Don’t expect Najib to answer Rafidah

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“When one gets in bed with government, one must expect the diseases it spreads.”

― Ron Paul

COMMENT | Caretaker prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s failure to address the open letter by Rafidah Aziz regarding the privatisation of over 40,000 hectares of military land across the country to a three-person company, does not bode well for the self-described Bugis warrior.

Rafidah was not only an Umno insider, she was also a former high-ranking official of the establishment. While she may have picked a side in this conflict within Umno, this should not diminish the allegations she made against Najib personally in her open letter.

Instead of the minions of the state, including a relative of Najib, taking pot shots at Rafidah, the caretaker prime minister should address her allegations in an open and transparent manner.

Of course, since he can't seem to find the resolve to address the 1MDB issue in an open debate with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister-designate of Pakatan Harapan, there is very little evidence that he would find some to face off against the former minister of international trade.

If the Umno state claims that Rafidah is lying – as the state's minions do – then why not sue her in open court? If the Umno state is claiming – as the state's minions do – that these allegations are “fake news”, the genesis of which is supposedly a WhatsApp message passed around, why doesn’t the state use the newly-minted anti-fake news laws against her?

Rafidah has eschewed the usual Malaysian-style politics of poison-pen letters and directly addressed these allegations towards the caretaker prime minister, and if this does not show cojones, I do not know what does.

Moreover, these allegations are important. Not only to the voters but to former and still serving security personnel. Why is it important? Because when allegations of corruption revolving around the security apparatus of this country, be it personnel, land or the myriad other concerns attached to the security apparatus of the state, these become issues of national security.

We are not merely talking about any pieces of land here. We are talking about land, whether “idle” or not, which has some connection with how the state handles the security of the nation. More importantly, if business interests could find easy access to those who hold the reins of the state security apparatus, this complicates things in obvious ways.

Let’s face facts. The state security apparatus is riddled with corruption scandals. International arms companies understand that we are a pliant country when it comes to the way how we do business. There are recent examples of so-called “rogue” regimes like North Korea, using local front men to facilitate international arms deals.

The state security apparatus is a collection of petty fiefdoms allegedly connected to organised crime, which has been documented by numerous government commissions and non-aligned NGOs. We even have had security apparatus personnel arrested for terrorist activities.

These allegations merely continue a narrative of greed, incompetency and high-level governmental corruption. This point is neatly summarised by retired Brigadier General Mohd Arshad Raji: “Besides the commercial value, any relocation of the military bases would have serious strategic, security and defence implications. Additionally, relocation to remote regions would cause much discomfort to the uniformed men and women and their families.”

Mohd Arshad’s Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) also posed three questions to the prime minister but no doubt these would be ignored too.

In other words, the voices of retired service people are not important except when they are called to sing along to the Umno tune like deranged old men...

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