It’s lies, Najib Razak says! All lies! But is there something in convicted murderer Azilah Hadri’s allegation that the order to kill Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu came from Jib? Elsewhere in today’s newsletter, Anwar Ibrahim’s accuser says he’s willing to submit to a lie detector test, NST, Berita Harian and Harian Metro are letting go of some 500-plus people, and we’ll be kicking off 2020 with another by-election.

Murder most foul

License to kill

Five years after the Federal Court found him guilty for murder, former cop Azilah Hadri has laid the blame for the 2006 killing of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu at the feet of Najib Razak, whom he claims gave a “shoot to kill” order on her.

Folks, this is huge. Way, WAY bigger than the alleged pocketing of a RM2.6 billion donation from a Saudi prince or anything else the Jibster is currently on trial for.

But that’s only IF the Federal Court agrees there’s good reason to review its 2015 decision that sentenced Azilah and fellow police commando Sirul Azhar Umar to death, and re-examine the role Najib, and everyone else Azilah has now accused, played.

In case you need your memory jogged, you can read this comprehensive guide detailing what went down in the murder case, or watch Al Jazeera’s Murder in Malaysia. The TL;DR version, though, is this: Altantuya had been in Malaysia just a few days when she went missing sometime in October 2006.

Three weeks later, her remains were found in a jungle near Shah Alam, apparently blown up. Azilah and Sirul were arrested and charged with her murder, while another person was accused of abetting the them. That person was political analyst and close associate of then DPM Najib, Abdul Razak Baginda, who admitted to having been in a relationship with the victim.

Azilah and Sirul were found guilty, then acquitted, then found guilty again. However, Abdul Razak was acquitted without being asked to enter his defence. And here’s the other thing: Despite loads of accusations (mainly from then Opposition politicians), Najib has always denied knowing or even meeting Altantuya. 

Azilah’s new statutory declaration, however, alleging Jib told him the Mongolian national was a foreign spy and she was to be “arrested and destroyed” might change things … or it might not.

You see, statutory declarations are generally used by a person to declare something to be true. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the statements contained within an SD ARE true. What the court has to decide now, therefore, is whether the stuff in Azilah’s SD is enough for the conviction against him and Sirul to be reviewed.  Sirul fled to Australia shortly before the Federal Court’s verdict was delivered in 2015 and is currently in a detention centre there.

Najib has, unsurprisingly, called the convicted cop’s statements lies by a “desperate person seeking to escape the gallows.” But more importantly, he’s claiming it’s all part of a conspiracy by the Pakatan Harapan government to throw him in jail because, get this, and we quote (because it’s too good not to): “They are finding it difficult to counter or rebut what I post on social media or reveal in my speeches during ceramah. There are analysts who say that the facts I produce are the ‘sharpest weapons’ … The things I posted and revealed contributed to Pakatan Harapan’s crushing defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election.”

Uh-huh. Yeah. Okay Jibby, that’s the main reason. 🙄

Meanwhile, while the Jib’s maintaining his innocence, Abdul Razak Baginda’s lawyer has called on A-G Tommy Thomas to initiate contempt proceedings against Azilah for his SD. The reason is the statements impact an on-going civil case involving Altantuya’s family, who’re suing Azilah, Sirul, Razak and the government, over her death.

TT has yet to respond and the police say they will look into Azilah’s allegations only after they receive a copy of it. However, one person with an interest in the case is Altantuya’s dad, who notes that the latest revelation presents a chance for Malaysia to come clean.

He’s not entirely wrong, of course. There’re so many things about the case that didn’t make sense. However, unless the apex court is convinced there’s new evidence, there’s not a whole lot that can be done.

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

You know how we said earlier about the stuff said in SDs not necessarily being true? Well, one fella who recently made a declaration is bent on proving the “truth” of his allegations by agreeing to submit to a polygraph test.

Yep, Anwar Ibrahim’s accuser and former aide Muhammed Yusoff Rawther, it seems, wants a thorough investigation into his claim he was the victim of sexual misconduct. So the dude is making himself available for a lie detector test any time the cops are ready. 

According to Yusoff’s lawyer, Haniff Khatri Abdulla, the former PKR research officer is aware it’s up to the court to decide whether to admit the results of a polygraph test. However, he’s willing to submit himself to one anyway.

It’s true. There’s no precedent currently for the admissibility of polygraph tests as evidence in Malaysia. But that doesn’t mean a judge can’t accept it if he/she wants to. But the reality is that opinion is split on the efficacy of polygraphs; the American Psychological Association (APA) says there’s very little real evidence that polygraph tests can accurately detect lies, while the American Polygraph Association (also APA!) says the new computerised methods have 98% accuracy rates. 

Anyways, whether Yusoff is confident he’ll pass the polygraph or this is all just a means of trying to get people on his side with this announcement, we dunno. But what we do know is the cops don’t appear to be taking this latest allegation of sexual misconduct against PM-in-Waiting Anwar lightly. The PKR head honcho, as well as several others, have already been interviewed, and, according to CID director Huzir Mohamed, more people are set to be called. Including a number of politicians. Jeng jeng jeng!!!

Meanwhile, Anwar’s letter of demand to his former aide to explain his allegations has been finally delivered. However, neither Yusoff nor his lawyer has responded to the demands as yet.

Tough times ahead

It’s been a bad couple of years for the media industry. 

In the last 24 months, we’ve seen The Star Media Group carry out two downsizing exercises, Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad first cut staff then close shop, two storied newspapers – Tamil Nesan and The Malay Mail – cease printing, and even Astro moving to trim the fat.

Now, Media Prima Berhad, that had already carried out rationalising exercises not too long ago, is looking to reduce staff numbers even further.

Media Prima owns TV3, NTV7, 8TV and TV9, as well as three papers – the New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro. And on Monday, the company announced that 543 employees from its three papers would be losing their jobs by March 2020.

The company has said employees will be provided with counselling and job outplacement services. However, that’s probably gonna be scant consolation given the overall gloom in the industry. 

When Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo! shut down in October, the National Union of Journalists noted that the closure signalled a worrying trend for traditional media companies. However, while it is true that times are a-changin’, the staff cuts and shutterings which have affected many of Malaysia’s media companies are also the direct result of these companies having operated for yonks as mouthpieces of their owners (read: political masters from the former ruling government) instead of you know, doing what businesses should do i.e. focus on customers and try to make profits.

Also, sometimes, and in some cases, it was just down to truly horrible business practices. Take for example the current case with Media Prima, where seven employees are said to have been drawing a collective monthly salary of RM300,000. That’s RM3.6 million a year, folks! For seven people!!!

Considering shit like that, surely it should come as no surprise to anyone that the bottom’s finally dropped out, right?!

In an immediate response to the Media Prima announcement, Money Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the government is prepared to grant media companies tax breaks provided they can show every effort was made not to retrench employees. Unfortunately, while we think that’s great and all, it’s tough to see companies taking Lim up on the offer.

Ironically, yesterday Cabinet announced that it has agreed to the setting up of the Malaysian Media Council. At the rate things are going, there might not be enough media left to even sit on the council.

It's on! Like Donkey Kong!

Former MP Anifah Aman may be currently trying to stop it from happening. However, as far as the Election Commission is concerned, the Kimanis by-election will go ahead, with noms set for Jan 4, 2020, and polls scheduled for Jan 18.

The Kimanis seat, a traditional Barisan Nasional stronghold, fell vacant following a court decision that invalidated the results in GE14 which saw Anifah triumph by less than 200 votes. So now, it’s time to go again. Except that quite a bit has changed since May 2018. For one, ex-foreign minister Anifah’s no longer a BN man. And two, he may not even be in the reckoning this time. 

Anifah’s opponent in 2018, Warisan’s Karim Bujang is ready for Round 2 though. However, despite analysts thinking the former state assistant minister stands a good chance of winning, his own party has yet to make a decision.

Still, even as Sabah’s big parties get their election machinery ready and the smaller ones mull flinging their hats into the ring, one thing that could throw a spanner in the works is Anifah’s court application.

Last week, Anifah’s lawyer said his client would be filing an appeal against the Federal Court’s latest order due to issues of bias. Basically, the guy is claiming four of the five judges who presided in his case had also previously heard another appeal concerning the same petition, and that shouldn’t have been allowed. As such, the case should be re-heard by a fresh panel of judges. 

EC chairman Azhar Harun says the Commission is duty-bound to uphold the court’s most recent decision in the case (i.e. the one that took the win away from Anifah). However, if Anifah is successful, a stay of the by-election could very well be ordered. 

So yeah, this one looks far from being settled.

“The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.”

- Terry Pratchett -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Boeing is suspending production of its troubled 737 Max jets after the Federal Aviation Administration said it wouldn’t be allowing the jet back in service before next year. Boing’s 737 Maxes were grounded worldwide earlier this year following the fatal crashes of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines plane near Addis Ababa.
     
  • According to the Bank of England, investors have pulled approximately US$5 billion from Hong Kong investment funds following demonstrations there that show no signs of stopping.
     
  • Mariah Carey’s Christmas classic, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, has topped the Billboard Hot 100, 25 years after it was first released.
     
  • Donald Trump is likely to become the third US President to be impeached when the House of Representatives votes on charges concerning efforts by El Presidente to get a foreign country to investigate former veep Joe Biden.

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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