COMMENT It is pathetic that our beleaguered government should be trying yet again to demonise Malaysiakini and NGOs like Bersih over their receipt of foreign funding, after the humiliation it received when it launched an all-out attack against Suaram in 2012, in concert with the mainstream media. The government’s vindictive campaign against Suaram lasted for more than a year and involved no less than six government agencies which were ordered to investigate Suaram. Everyone could see that it was payback time for Suaram having complained to the French courts to investigate the suspected commissions in the RM7 billion Scorpene submarine scandal.
Mother of all editorial apologies
The New Straits Times (NST) was forced to make an unprecedented “mother of all editorial apologies” after we had sued them for defamation, in which they acknowledged their shockingly low standard of journalism and the government’s failed attempt to show that Malaysia’s concerned NGOs are beholden to foreign funders. The NST’s patently gauche assassination attempt was launched on Sept 21, 2012 when it carried a front page story with the banner headline: 'Plot to destabilise govt'. A few other NGOs were also implicated, namely Bersih, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Merdeka Center but clearly Suaram bore the brunt of that assault.
After many months of relentless harassment of Suaram - orders for documents and calls for interrogation of Suaram personnel both past and present including one deceased (i.e. Fan Yew Teng) - the six government agencies, including Companies Commission Malaysia (CCM), Social Security Organisation (Perkeso) and Bank Negara were forced to admit that their allegations didn’t have a leg to stand on. In other words, we were found to be squeaky clean and we had not committed any acts to sell out the nation otherwise we would have been done for!
Is MACC investigating Perimekar and Terasasi?
But despite the more than a hundred documents uncovered by the police investigations into the Scorpene scandal in Paris, no government agency including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) appears to be investigating all the reports made about Perimekar and Terasasi and the suspected leaks of military secrets and commissions paid in the Scorpene deal. There have already been indictments by the French courts against two officials of DCN, the French state company that sold the Scorpene submarines.
It was ironic and comical that the order to Bank Negara to investigate Suaram for money laundering should have coincided with the case of money launderers with funds for Sabah Umno being caught with RM40 million by the Hong Kong police. We haven’t heard any more about the investigations into this.
Guess who’s been fraternising with Soros?
The government officials’ “foreign plot” allegation in 2012 also blew up in their faces when there were subsequent exposés of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s cosying up to George Soros. First, it was revealed that Najib had a private meeting with billionaire financier George Soros at the luxury Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, New York on Sept 27, 2010 when he attended the UN General Assembly in New York.
At the time, Mahathir had also joined the chorus, accusing NGOs of working with Soros to engineer a regime change. Mahathir had frequently accused Soros of being a “rogue currency trader” even though when he was prime minister, Malaysia's Bank Negara was known as a rogue central bank for similarly dabbling in high-risk currency speculation with Malaysian taxpayers’ money. After losing some RM5.7 billion of our money to currency speculators including Soros in the early 1990s, Mahathir called him a “moron”.
Nonetheless, despite his public denunciation of Soros, it was later revealed that Mahathir had written to the billionaire for his support to lend his name to the former premier's Global Peace Forum project. So did Soros’ support indicate that the Global Peace Forum had been compromised to serve “foreign powers”?
Najib not compromised by RM2.6b in his personal bank account?
Only recently, Malaysia's attorney-general (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Najib of any wrongdoing with regard to RM2.6 billion worth of donations from the Saudi royal family that were channelled into his bank account. The MACC had earlier said the funds were a political donation and “there is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly." The AG has ordered the case closed.
Now compare Najib’s RM2.6 billion (donated into his personal bank account) to Suaram’s annual budget of RM400,000 which is used to employ five staff who give human rights support to Malaysians and refugees who face human rights violations; monitor and document these violations; as well as run campaigns to defend and promote human rights in Malaysia. You’re right… there is no comparison! So lay off Malaysiakini and Malaysian NGOs that have been working selflessly for decades for Malaysian justice, democracy and human rights.
KUA KIA SOONG is Suaram director.