Malaysia

DAP: PM should testify in Scorpene hearing to clear name

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
April 23, 2012

Lim said the officials involved may be compelled to testify if they should visit the EU. — File picLim said the officials involved may be compelled to testify if they should visit the EU. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak should attend the ongoing French probe into allegations of graft by Malaysian government officials involving the multibillion Scorpene submarine deal if he has “nothing to hide”, Lim Guan Eng said today. 

The Penang chief minister said that the onus was on the prime minister to offer assistance in the probe if required by the French authorities.

“If I’m PM, I would definitely answer go to France and testify if I have nothing to hide,” Lim told reporters here.

“The prime minister, defence minister should offer assistance to testify if required by French authorities. The public should demand full accountability; if the French authorities demand a judicial probe, it shows that there is basis,” he added.

The Bagan MP said government officials may also be compelled to testify should they visit any part of the European Union, of which France is a member state.

“If you refuse to give evidence, when you enter Europe they can subpoena you [or] get a warrant to compel you to testify,” Lim said.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has said he will not attend the Scorpene probe, and that Putrajaya will not send any representatives to attend the inquiry in Paris.

“Why should I appear? I am not a witness! If I appear, who will pay for my expenses? I don’t want to use my money and the government’s money,” Ahmad Zahid was reported as saying by Sin Chew Daily on Saturday.

“They can conduct an inquiry, although the Ministry of Defence will not send any representatives to France, but I believe our country’s ambassadors will keep track of the case’s progress,” the Chinese-language daily quoted him as saying.

He added that local human rights group Suaram’s action in bringing the case to the attention of the French authorities was not for legal purposes, but for a “political agenda” against the Malaysian government.

Suaram had previously said it had resorted to filing a complaint with the French authorities because Malaysia’s Defence Ministry had failed to reply to questions about the Scorpene case in Parliament.

Asked about Suaram’s list of witnesses submitted to the French tribunal, which included Najib, Ahmad Zahid said Suaram was free to use French legal channels for its own goals.

Ahmad Zahid also said he hoped Suaram would be able to accept any ruling and not use other issues to twist the truth.

Suaram revealed last week that French prosecutors have uncovered evidence to prove the involvement of Malaysian officials in millions of ringgit in kickbacks for the sale of two Scorpene submarines to Malaysia.

Malaysia paid RM6.7 billion in 2009 for the two submarines, of which RM574 million was earmarked for co-ordination and support services for Perimekar Sdn Bhd, owned by Najib’s close associate Abdul Razak Baginda.

According to PKR’s Chua Tian Chang, the French court had asked for Abdul Razak’s address as it wants to subpoena him as a witness in the trial. He is believed to be based in the UK now.

The purchase, made while Najib headed the Defence Ministry, has been linked by human rights groups and opposition parties to the 2006 murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Abdul Razak, who was Altantuya’s alleged one-time lover, was acquitted of a charge of abetting two Special Action Squad members — Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar — to commit the murder in 2006.

Altantuya’s father Dr Setev Shaariibuu recently told a press conference in Petaling Jaya that he had offered himself as a witness in the Scorpene submarine probe, claiming that his testimony would be able to “connect the dots” between her death and the Scorpene case.