Why Suaram’s status is suddenly so important

By showing that Suaram is a company, the Najib administration can tell the French authorities that Suaram has not legal standing to bring the Scorpene inquiry, says Raja Petra. 

Free Malaysia Today

The ongoing government onslaught on human rights watchdog Suaram is a carefully planned tactic undertaken by the Najib administration to defend itself against a French inquiry into the Scorpene submarine deal.

The government intends to show to the French authorities that Suaram is a profit-motivated company and not an international NGO as it had claimed itself to be at the French courts.

“As such, Suaram has no locus standi in the ‘class action suit’ [over the alleged corruption in the Scorpene deal],” popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin said today in a posting in his Malaysia-Today portal.

Raja Petra said that the French investigation into the sale of the two submarines to Malaysia was launched mainly because of an application made by Suaram, which had applied to the French court for the investigation to be launched on the basis that it was an international NGO.

He said that Suaram had claimed that it has suffered damage because France sold the two submarines to Malaysia.

He added that Suaram was also seeking compensation.

“Suaram has managed to convince the French court that it is an international NGO and therefore has locus standi to take this ‘class action suit’ against the Malaysian government.”

Raja Petra also attached a document submitted to the French authorities to indicate that Suaram was “an international NGO that was eligible to sue for compensation as it had personally suffered damages because of the obvious phenomenon surrounding the corrupt sale of these submarines”.

“The Malaysian government, therefore, now has to defend itself against a possible legal action.

“And to do that, it has to bring into question Suaram’s status as an international NGO. And if the Malaysian government can prove that Suaram is not an international NGO but is a registered company [and hence profit-motivated], then it may be able to torpedo the submarine investigation,” he said.

Raja Petra said that the Malaysian government has to “rip to shreds Suaram’s status” so that it can argue that “not only is Suaram a profit-motivated company and not an international NGO but also it has no locus standi in this class action suit”.

In recent weeks, Suaram has come under intense attack over its funding and organisational structure. The government has accused it of being funded by foreign powers to “destabilise the peace of the country”.

Last week, Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that six government agencies are taking action against Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd, the operating entity of Suaram, for breaching five sections of the Companies Act 1965.

Suaram has consistently denied any wrongdoings.