Since the change of government 10 days ago, expectations have been high on Pakatan Harapan to put things right, including reopening the Altantuya murder case, relooking the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and investigating Taib Mahmud for graft.
Mongolia’s President Khaltmaagiin Battulga has asked Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to reopen the murder case of Altantuya Shariibuu, while Anwar Ibrahim said Sirul Azhar Umar, who was convicted of her murder, should face a new trial.
Anwar said the original trial and judges’ ruling was “compromised” and the reluctance of the judges to call relevant witnesses “made a mockery of the law”.
Now in Australian custody, Sirul has claimed he was ordered by “important people” to murder the Mongolian interpreter in 2006 and is willing to return to Malaysia to spill the beans in return for a full pardon.
Altantuya was the lover of Abdul Razak Baginda – a former close associate of Najib Razak – who was accused of arranging kickbacks for the purchase of French submarines in 2002.
It has long been alleged that Sirul and accomplice Azilah Hadri, members of an elite unit that guards top Malaysian ministers, were scapegoats in the killing to hide the involvement of their masters at the highest levels of government.
The Guardian newspaper reported that Canberra has allowed Malaysian officials and their middlemen to meet with Sirul regularly, including one from Umno’s youth wing recently.
The daily cited a source as saying the Malaysian visitor delivered a message to Sirul: “Don’t say anything”.
Pascal Najadi, son of the former AmBank Chairman Hussain Najadi, who was gunned down in broad daylight, has urged the government to reopen the investigation into his father’s assassination five years ago.
Pascal told the New Straits Times that he was hopeful that the real motive for his father’s assassination would be determined, along with other unanswered murder cases such as Altantuya and former Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Morais.
“I plead to (Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was one of my father’s closest friends for decades to reopen the assassination case of my late father Hussain Najadi.
“The Najadi family demand and hope for a full investigation to be carried out according to the criminal laws of Malaysia.
“This time, the investigation must focus on the motive of the murder because without it, the investigation is incomplete,” he said.
Hussain was shot dead on July 29, 2013, at close range in a car park after leaving a Chinese temple in Lorong Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur.
In July 2015, Lim Kit Siang urged the police to reopen the investigation into Hussain’s murder to ensure that it had nothing to do with the 1MDB scandal.
This was following an article published by The Wall Street Journal the same month, where it alleged that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) in state funds was deposited into Najib’s private bank accounts at AmBank.
Hussain was killed four months after the first alleged transactions involving Najib’s bank accounts.
According to Pascal, his family have appointed prominent lawyer Americk Sidhu to represent them in the case.
“The Najadi family is confident that the Pakatan Harapan government will seek justice for all of the victims.
“I want to return to Malaysia together with my mother, Heidi Najadi to finally be able to visit the grave of my late father,” he said.
Even the family of Ivana Smit has turned to Dr Mahathir for help, asking him to look into the “suspicious” circumstances of the Dutch teenage model’s death.
In a letter made exclusively available to FMT, Smit’s family lawyer Sébas Diekstra hoped that the prime minister would personally look into the investigation since there were unanswered questions surrounding her death.
Diekstra claimed that the Smits have yet to receive the first report of a post-mortem examination of Ivana’s body. Repeated requests for case files by the Dutch authorities had also been ignored, he said.
Ivana’s naked body was found on Dec 7 last year on the balcony of a sixth-floor apartment in a building on Persiaran Capsquare, off Jalan Dang Wangi, Kuala Lumpur.
The 19-year-old was said to have earlier been in the apartment of a couple on the 20th floor. Police assumed she had fallen down.
Her family lawyer said Malaysian police had given only a skimpy briefing to the Dutch authorities but not the exact findings.
In the letter to Dr Mahathir, he said:
“Dutch authorities have repeatedly requested documents from the investigation, but they still have not been provided.
“This is so the relatives no longer have to live with unbearable uncertainty and know that every stone is turned.”
Diekstra also asked Dr Mahathir to look into why the American couple who had hosted Ivana at their apartment had mysteriously not faced criminal charges for drug possession.
Early last month the American couple broke their silence and said they had done nothing wrong. They told UK’s Daily Mail that Ivana had likely fallen off their balcony on her own.
It was reported last year that Ivana had been out drinking with the couple in Bangsar before returning with them to their apartment.
Police have classified the case as sudden death pending the results of the post-mortem and pathology tests. The results have not been revealed.
A pathologist who conducted a second post-mortem into her body said he found bruises on her arms which he said might have been inflicted before her fall.
Dr Frank van der Goot said that a struggle had probably taken place before she plunged to her death.
Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat
Much to the delight of the family of Raymond Koh, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will restart the public inquiry into the pastor’s disappearance.
Lawyer Gurdial Singh who is representing the family says he plans to call as witness a police officer who admitted that the police Special Branch was involved in the abduction.
“Our search for truth will continue through this Suhakam inquiry,” Gurdial said. “As far as we are concerned, there was a hurried plan by the police to prevent the truth from coming out.”
He said the police officer was an important witness after the revelation by Norhayati Mohd Ariffin, the wife of missing activist Amri Che Mat, that a police officer had given her information on who was involved.
She claimed a police informer had told her that her husband was taken by a team from Bukit Aman which was also responsible for the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh.
“A whistleblower, Sergeant Shamzaini Mohd Daud, has said that he wants to come clean and does not want to pay for the sins of others.
“He told Amri’s wife that this was indeed a black operation by the Special Branch in which some very senior police officers were involved.
“He claimed it was done with the full knowledge of the former inspector-general of police (Khalid Abu Bakar),” Gurdial said, adding he wants to call Shamzaini as a witness.
Gurdial said if what this “whistleblower” said was true then it would mean a few witnesses who had testified at the inquiry had committed perjury.
“Under Section 15 (2) of the Suhakam Inquiry Act, if you lied on oath, you can be charged for perjury under the Penal Code.
“That’s the angle we are now pursuing.”
Another lawyer for the family, Jerald Gomez, said there was a role for the new home minister to play in cleaning up the police force.
“Independent to this inquiry, the home minister can investigate what is happening in the police force.
“He would also want to clean up the force.”
Police previously had denied responsibility for Koh’s disappearance but arrested a 31-year-old who was later with kidnapping the pastor.
Wronged Hindu mother M Indira Gandhi expressed her renewed hope of recovering her daughter Prasana Diksa after Pakatan Harapan won the general election.
Indira, who was embroiled in a nine-year legal battle to regain custody of her daughter, told the Malay Mail she believes the current administration will be able to find her child, who turns 10 this year.
“I feel more hopeful, because they are more open, more transparent, and I can see their efforts to reduce corruption and do the right things,” Indira said. “I also know many of the leaders are aware of my struggle and they have been very supportive.”
The child was allegedly taken from Indira by her ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah in 2009, when she was 11 months old.
Indira said there had been no updates on her situation, but she remains confident that her lawyer M Kulasegaran – who is also Ipoh Barat MP and recently named as Minister of Human Resources – would keep fighting for her and her family.
“In fact, after he won the Ipoh Barat seat, he told me that he wanted to get my child back in a week. However, I know it will take longer than that because there is so much going on,” she divulged.
Indira also felt Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be able to understand the pain of her struggle over the best part of a decade.
“Even before he won the election, I felt he was a humble man. As a parent, he will know what I have been going through as a mother,” she said.
Indira previously secured a mandamus order compelling then inspector-general of police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to retrieve Prasana and return the child to her mother.
However, Khalid reportedly said police could not execute the order, citing the jurisdictional conflict between the civil courts and their Shariah counterparts – which had issued an order in favour of Riduan.
But in January, the Federal Court nullified the conversion of Indira’s three children to Islam.
After the landmark decision, current Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the police will track down Prasana Diksa and Muhammad Riduan.
Kulasegaran echoed Indira’s confidence, saying that PH could now communicate directly with the IGP now they were in power.
“After our election win, I think he should make fresh efforts to recover Prasana and Riduan. We will follow up with him on this,” Kulasegaran said.
“We are committed to this issue. In fact, one of our manifesto’s special commitments for the Indian community promises to resolve the issue of unilateral religious conversion of minors peacefully.”
There have been many calls for investigations into the suspected graft activities of high-profile individuals, including Sarawak’s former chief minister and current governor Abdul Taib Mahmud.
The Bruno Manser Fund said it hoped that the MACC and the Attorney-General’s Chambers would soon reopen files on the alleged corrupt activities of Taib.
The Swiss-based NGO said it is willing to share with the new Malaysian government evidence of Taib’s alleged corrupt practices.
“The investigation should focus on the alleged allocation of state land to Taib family members and on the Taibs’ unexplained wealth overseas,” said the NGO’s executive director Lukas Straumann.
He was referring to Dr Mahathir recent remark that those with evidence of corruption in Sarawak should come forward with it so that the authorities could act.
The premier was responding to National Human Rights Society (Hakam) chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan’s statement that the new Pakatan government should investigate Taib over alleged corruption in Sarawak during his 33 years of ruling the state.
Taib had been accused by international environmental groups of exploiting Sarawak’s natural resources, including widespread logging which is said to have stripped the state of huge portions of its rainforests.
He is also speculated to be among the world’s richest with business interests in a variety of industries locally and abroad.
These are but a handful of cases among the numerous that the people hope will finally see justice served and hope restored in the name of a new democratic Malaysia.