As expected, there has been a deluge of stories on Najib Razak's involvement (allegedly, allegedly) in Altantuya Shaariibuu's 2006 murder following an accusation by convicted killer Azilah Hadri that Jibby had ordered the dirty deed done. Perhaps the most interesting was an allegation that Azilah had met with a VVIP, whose name we know not, outside of Sungai Buloh prison. In other news, a lawyer who perhaps has no clients to assist has filed another claim that vernacular schools are unconstitutional while claiming not to be racist; and, Malaysia has filed a submission staking claims to parts of the South China Sea, much to a spoilt brat’s China's annoyance.

Of VVIPs and convicted murderers

Azilah to get his day in court

For the second day in a row, the most talked-about news items were those surrounding ex-cop Azilah Hadri’s explosive (no pun intended) allegations against Najib Razak over the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder.

To quickly recap what’s going on, former UTK commando Azilah swore out a statutory declaration (SD) as part of his bid to have his conviction for the murder of the Mongolian woman reviewed and set aside by the Federal Court in order for a retrial to take place. Part of the SD states that the 2006 hit had been ordered by the then DPM, Jibby Razak.

And it looks like Azilah will be having his way, thanks to the SD. During case management of his application, the Federal Court set April 20 next year to hear the case. So, Azilah will be spared the gallows, for now at least.

Present at the case management yesterday was the Jibster’s lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, who really seems to be busy these days thanks to his client. The legal eagle says his client has applied to intervene in Azilah’s bid to set aside his conviction, as he denies all allegations against him in the SD.

When the case eventually comes up in April, there probably won’t be a shortage of lawyers in the courtroom as Sangeet Kaur Deo has applied to hold a watching brief for Altantuya’s family.

Of course, there were the usual conspiracy theories floating around. The “best” were started by Shafee himself, as he claimed Azilah had been taken out of his death row cell in Sungai Buloh Prison to meet with “a VVIP”.

He said Azilah had several times since February been taken out of prison to meet this VVIP, but added that he could not confirm this. And, he claimed agents of the Malaysian government were also sent to interview Azilah’s partner in crime Sirul Azhar Umar in an immigration detention camp in Australia.

All of this, said Shafee, was part of the political assassination of his client, poor widdle Jibby.

Since Shafee refused to name the VVIP, reporters covering Dr Mahathir Mohamad at a function later in the day asked the PM if he was the VVIP in question.

If this had been Maddey 1.0, during his first stint as exalted leader, the reporters would have gotten a tongue lashing at the very least. Maddey 2.0, now considerably older (and wiser, perhaps?) just smiled and shook his head before getting up and leaving.

Meanwhile, Hazman Ahmad, the lawyer who represented Azilah at his trial, said he was still working on getting a pardon for his client. This, however, is separate from the review application.

At least two people yesterday called for action to be taken based on Azilah’s SD. One of them was DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang (no surprises there) who said the SD alone justified an inquiry to look at the whole process of investigation, prosecution and trial concerning the murder of Altantuya.

More importantly than a Malaysian politician, Altantuya’s father Shaariibuu Setev also commented, via a statement from his lawyer in Mongolia, saying that this was a chance for Malaysian authorities to clear the country’s name at international level by starting a fresh investigation.

Vernacular schools are the devil's workshop, apparently

Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz is at it again.

The lawyer has re-filed an application in the KL High Court seeking to declare vernacular schools unconstitutional, just over a month after the Federal Court said it did not have sole jurisdiction to hear matters of constitutional challenges.

Khairul’s own lawyer, Shaharudin Ali, said the application was filed based on a case in the 1980s, where the Federal Court ruled the use of Chinese as medium of instruction at Merdeka University had violated Article 152 of the Federal Constitution.

Now, we’re not big fans of Chinese and Tamil schools, but we really don’t see the problem with them. Are they producing anti-Malaysian pupils? Are they churning out terrorists? Anarchist fiends? Or, horror of horrors, Communists?

Well, the obvious answer is no. And how does having Mandarin or Tamil (or any other language associated with the various ethnic groups in Malaysia, for that matter) as the medium of instruction become a threat to everyday Malaysians? Cos that’s what this is all about, right?

With all due respect to the Federal Court in the 1980s, how does using a different medium in a school or university violate Article 152 of the Federal Constitution, which merely states that Bahasa Malaysia is the official language of the country, and “shall be in such script in Parliament”?

Understandably, Khairul’s move has been cause for grave concern for several quarters, including DAP. Secretary-general (Comrade?) Lim Guan Eng says the move not only jeopardises the existence of vernacular schools but threatens national unity and racial harmony.

Lim says DAP would bring the matter up in the Cabinet for it to instruct the Attorney-General’s Chambers to mount a strong defence against the suit (which they are entitled to do, since the suit names the gomen and the Education Ministry as respondents). He also said the party would also seek to intervene legally on behalf of vernacular schools.

Separately, the DAP Central Executive Committee (CEC) has called on the authorities to act against those who threaten national unity and racial and religious harmony, citing among others the issue about vernacular schools.

In a statement, it condemned the opposition for what it called the use of racist and extremist politics, saying non-Muslims and non-Malays were being targeted by such tactics.

Among other issues mentioned were the proposed boycott of non-Muslim products and businesses; the barring of non-Muslims from becoming cabinet ministers; and, the revoking of voting rights for Indians and Chinese.

Cry, the (not so) beloved country

Beijing is upset and crying foul! And, it’s all because Malaysia is claiming what’s rightfully ours in the South China Sea.

This follows news that Malaysia has filed a partial submission with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), which governs the implementation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). On Dec 12, Malaysia filed the submission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which comprises the submerged prolongation of the land territory of a coastal state.

In filing it, Putrajaya said this partial submission was for the “remaining portion of the continental shelf of Malaysia beyond 200 nautical miles in the northern part of the South China Sea”. It was an extension of the 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam for a portion of the two countries’ continental shelf in the southern part of the South China Sea.

Needless to say, China wasn’t impressed with what we did. You see, China claims most of the South China Sea through “historic rights”, a move which you can’t really blame them for considering some US$3.4 trillion worth of goods (dayum!) are transported through the area annually.

So, Beijing has objected to the submission, saying Malaysia’s move had infringed on its “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction” in the South China Sea. What a mouthful!

But UNCLOS does not recognise “historic rights”. Sure, China might have “owned” a large tract of the sea hundreds of years ago (so they claim), but in this day and age, every country has rights, set out in international law. It would be these laws that come into play.

Earlier this year, PM Maddey had talked about our sovereign territory in parts of the South China Sea, and defence experts had backed him up, saying Malaysia’s right to stake a claim in parts of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, were justified under UNCLOS. China’s claims, in fact, extended well beyond their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and well into ours, they said.

The Spratlys, various parts of which are claimed by Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and China, have been a point of contention for many years now. The collection of hundreds of islands are said to be rich in various resources, including oil, and China has been reported to have gone on a rich vein of expansion there.

What’s gonna be interesting to see is how this impacts Malaysia’s trade and bilateral relations with China. After all, it’s not like we’re a lot less chummy with them now than during Jibby Razak’s time.

Bits and pieces

A number of other things happened yesterday that we thought was important or interesting enough to include for you. So here they are in brief:

  • Yusoff Rawther, the man now infamous for claiming eternal bridesmaid Anwar Ibrahim had made unwanted sexual advances on him, spent four hours in Bukit Aman undergoing a polygraph test after volunteering to do so. Is that one for the Malaysia Book of Records, then?
     
  • Umno sec-gen Annuar Musa says the row with Hishammuddin Hussein has been settled after the former Veep met with party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and explained his meeting with Pakatan MPs. However, that doesn’t mean the disciplinary action against him will be dropped, apparently, as Annuar says the party won’t interfere with the disciplinary board’s actions. So, settled but not settled?
     
  • The US has barred former Goldman Sachs Group Inc executive Tim Leissner from the securities industry for his involvement in the 1MDB scandal. Only right, we think, since lawyers can be disbarred for committing various offences.
     
  • Vell Paari’s bid to have his father, MIC legend S. Samy Vellu, declared mentally unfit had to be postponed after the latter’s “quasi-spousal” partner sought to intervene in the suit. We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the use of “quasi-spousal”.
     
  • Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said empowered youth are “double-edged swords” whom the Muslim world should listen to and engage in the decision-making process as this would benefit the respective nations. He had us chuckling at how a champion debater could bugger such an expression, but he does make a good point otherwise.

“I love conspiracy theories. I used to just live on it. You know it's all hype and garbage, but you're still really paranoid afterwards. It's fun entertainment.”

- Doug Stanhope -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • A court in Pakistan has sentenced former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf to death for high treason and subverting the constitution.
     
  • El Presidente Donald Trump has sent a “scorching letter” to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over impeachment hearings against him, wildly claiming that more due process had been accorded the accused in the infamous Salem Witch Trials. 
     
  • British PM Boris Johnson has reportedly barred his ministers from attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying they need to focus on delivering for the people instead of drinking champagne with billionaires.
     
  • Pope Francis has lifted the “pontifical secrecy” rule on reported sexual abuse of minors by priests in a bid to improve transparency on such cases.
     
  • Italy’s top football league, Serie A, has been vilified for bad taste after coming up with an anti-racism campaign which features artworks of apes. It has since apologised.
     
  • If you’d invested $1 in this, you’d have $90,000 now. Want to guess what the best investment of the decade was?

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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