Putrajaya tightens screws on SUARAM, probing alleged civil service snitch

(The Malaysian Insider) — Putrajaya will investigate claims that a civil servant has received bribes from Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) in return for national secrets, the latest move against the human rights group, which is already under probe for having “misleading accounts”.

SUARAM has been at the forefront of exposing alleged corruption in the multibillion ringgit Scorpene submarine deal this past year but has in turn been the subject of investigation into its funding, along with several other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and news portal Malaysiakini.

“I cannot confirm or deny the allegations but we will monitor sensitive matters pertaining to national interest be it information, funds or outsiders,” Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters after launching a Women’s Safety Campaign at a school here yesterday.

The minister was commenting on Thursday’s newspaper statement by Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) president Azwanddin Hamzah, who claimed that RM100 million in foreign funds were believed to have been brought into the country since the human rights group was set up.

Azwanddin had claimed several government servants were also believed to have been bribed with the funds to make decisions in favour of SUARAM associates and for government information and secrets.

SUARAM has denied the statement that it bribed government officials to cover up information on its foreign funding and to gather information related to national security and government secrets from the Prime Minister’s Department, Finance Ministry and the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM).

It has also asked JMM to substantiate its allegations, and demanded an immediate apology and retraction of the allegations.

Several groups and Putrajaya have focused on SUARAM after it revealed that former political aide Abdul Razak Baginda had sold Malaysian naval secrets to France.

In April this year, the Tribunal de Grand Instance in Paris began its inquiry into SUARAM’s claim that French naval firm DCNS had paid some RM452 million as a bribe to Malaysian officials to obtain a contract for two submarines. SUARAM had filed the complaint with the French courts in 2009.

In a May 30 press conference in Bangkok, French lawyer Joseph Breham had revealed that a classified government document on the Malaysian navy’s evaluation of the Scorpene submarines it was then planning to buy had been sold by Terasasi (Hong Kong) Ltd to DCNS for RM142 million.

Abdul Razak, a former think-tank head who was at the centre of the 2006 investigation into the murder of former Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, is listed as a director of Terasasi with his father, Abdul Malim Baginda.

Weeks after the revelation, SUARAM came under close scrutiny of the CCM over its foreign funding sources, and the government agency said last week that it plans to

charge the activist group for its “misleading accounts”.

Yesterday, the Young Journalists Club lodged a police report against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers Chua Tian Chang, Datuk Mahfuz Omar and R. Sivarasa for bringing three foreign lawyers to Parliament to discuss the Scorpene submarine issue, and demanded to know SUARAM’s link to the case.

Club president Dzulkarnain Taib said the organisation did not want foreign interference in the country’s affairs.

“What is the opposition’s right to bring foreign lawyers to give a briefing in Parliament?

“What is SUARAM’s locus standi in the case?” Dzulkarnain said after lodging a report at the Dang Wangi police station here.

The former Suara Keadilan editor identified the three lawyers as William Bourdon, the French lawyer who was deported from Malaysia earlier this year, Breham and Oliver Netzer.

The journalist also asked about the ties between the opposition and SUARAM as well as the funds to bring the three lawyers here.