Malaysia’s Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarine, “KD Tunku Abdul Rahman”, docks in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur in this September 3, 2009 file photo. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have vowed to continue hounding the Najib administration with the Scorpene submarine scandal, suggesting today that the government was hiding behind the facts last night when it denied knowledge of the alleged sale of Malaysia’s naval secrets to the French.
The lawmakers said that if the allegations were proven true, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi could be cited for contempt for making the claim in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday while the Hong Kong-based company owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, which was revealed in an ongoing French inquiry as the firm that sold the secrets, could be charged with treason.
Abdul Razak, the political analyst investigated in the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, has often been said to be a close associate of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Najib was defence minister at the time when the RM7 billion Scorpene submarines were purchased in 2002 but he has since denied allegations of having received hefty commissions in the controversial purchase.
There has been no evidence linking him directly to corruption in the deal and his supporters have accused the federal opposition of reviving the issue to tarnish his credentials ahead of a general election that must be called soon.
PAS MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told a press conference today that despite Ahmad Zahid’s denial yesterday, the matter could not just be laid to rest and should be investigated to the very end.
“This is not just about misleading Parliament. This is treason.
“We cannot put it to rest until and unless the proof is all uncovered. So we must leave no stone unturned,” the Kuala Selangor MP said.
In his reply to an adjournment speech by Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar yesterday, Ahmad Zahid had insisted that no information was leaked regarding the evaluation of the Scorpene submarines, despite court documents from the ongoing French inquiry claiming the contrary.
“To the best knowledge of the ministry, up to now there is no information detected to have been taken out of Malaysia.
“The Defence Ministry has no information on the allegations of so-called secret documents sold by Terasasi (Hong Kong) to Thint Asia (Thales International) said to be worth €36 million (RM142 million),” he had said.
He also denied any knowledge of dealings between the two companies, the latter having formed a joint-venture with French defence giant DCNS to build the two vessels, as the government had no dealings with either company in the purchase.
But PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang furnished another court document today, which he claims proves the government had lied in its denial.
“The government says that they do not know about Terasasi’s existence and they categorically denied that Terasasi has sold secret Malaysian naval documents to France.
“But yesterday I revealed the annual returns which showed that Terasasi’s owners are only two — Abdul Razak and his father, the same owners of Perimekar,” he said, pointing out that Putrajaya had previously insisted that it had signed a contract with Perimekar for “coordination and support services”.
“So if the government claims that they don’t know, it means that Abdul Razak was dishonest in his contract — because he not only received payments from the government, the contract was also signed between Terasasi and Thompson, which later became (French shipmaker) DCNS,” he said.
The Batu MP also cited a French court document available online on Asia Sentinel, where Abdul Razak was mentioned as a party to the controversial Scorpene submarine purchase.
Chua singled out Document 136, which was translated from French, which details the interview between the French police and DCNS’ financial controller, Gerard-Philippe Menayas.
The document, distributed to the media today, was of Menayas’ explanation to the police of how the firm had to use other associate companies to make payments to Abdul Razak’s Terasasi.
Even more notable from the document, said Chua, was Menayas’ clear mention of Altantuya as Abdul Razak’s “interpreter”.
“So the government cannot deny the link,” he said.
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 Abdul Razak.
Abdul Razak is being sought as a witness in the French case.