More calls for investigation into the letter that has shocked the nation.
- Senior lawyer Zainur Zakaria says the act constitutes an offence under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act
- Former diplomat Dennis Ignatius says the letter hints at possible plans for emergency rule in the event Barisan Nasional lost GE14
- DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang demands that Najib explain to Parliament about the letter
A senior lawyer has urged police to investigate a letter purportedly written by the top intelligence officer in former prime minister Najib Razak’s administration which sought the support of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to keep him in power.
Zainur Zakaria said the request, made days before the May 9 general election, was an attempt to obtain the assistance of a foreign intelligence agency and government to interfere in Malaysia’s democratic election process.
“This act constitutes an offence under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma). It seeks to procure an election result favourable to Najib and Barisan Nasional (BN) by unlawful means and also affects the security of Malaysia,” he told FMT.
The letter was allegedly written on behalf of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organization (MEIO) and signed by Hasanah Ab Hamid, who also leads a unit under the Research Division of the Prime Minister’s Department.
Hasanah, whose present whereabouts are unknown, is said to have penned the three-page letter to CIA director Gina Haspel, stating that Najib was a US ally with whom Washington could work, compared to Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was seen as “anti-West (and) anti-Semite”.
Zainur, who is also a former Malaysian Bar president, said paragraphs 11, 12, 13 and especially paragraph 14 of the letter clearly indicated a request for support from the CIA to help BN win GE14.
“The police themselves can lodge a report to begin investigations. Any member of the public can also do so,” he said.
Zainur said in the past, it was BN who accused the opposition of trying to obtain support from foreign agencies to bring down the democratically elected government.
“This letter appears to indicate that it is Najib and BN who sought foreign interference, not the opposition,” he said.
Zainur also said Najib had not denied the existence of the letter but merely stated that he was not aware of it.
“Surely, as prime minister, it is ridiculous for him not to be aware. It concerns a very serious and important issue that affects the democratic process and national security of the nation.”
Meanwhile, a former ambassador claimed the letter hints at plans for an “extrajudicial power grab” in the aftermath of GE14.
“I find it very strange, even bizarre, that our intelligence agency, a government department, would send such a letter to their US counterpart,” Dennis Ignatius told FMT.
“My sense is that there is perhaps more than meets the eye here.”
The former high commissioner to Canada noted that the letter didn’t ask for US support to win the election.
Rather, it appeared to seek their understanding and support in the period immediately following the election, he said.
Dennis alleged this suggested that in the final days of campaigning, Najib was anticipating losing the election and contemplating using the National Security Council Act to stay in power.
He said the letter attempted to convince the US that such a move would serve Washington’s interests well, given Dr Mahathir’s previous anti-Western bias, and that Najib might be more mindful of the US’ interests in relation to China if it endorsed whatever actions Najib might take.
“It represents, in my view, nothing less than a shocking and shameful appeal to the US to side with Najib against Mahathir in the event of an electoral impasse or a close call.
“It follows a pattern set by other regimes on the verge of losing power.
“Though Najib himself may or may not have known about the letter, it is an indication of the extent his administration was willing to go to hold on to power.”
He added that the letter to the CIA would now lend credence to the speculation that at least some in Najib’s camp was making plans for emergency rule in the event BN lost the election.
“While time will tell whether all this is fact or fiction, I believe it warrants a thorough investigation as proposed by the National Patriots Association (Patriot).”
Earlier, Patriot called on the authorities to investigate the letter which it described as “treacherous” and “treasonous”.
Patriot president Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji said the purported letter had discussed internal security matters and foreign policy matters that should not have been shared.
Calls to probe the letter aside, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has demanded Najib explain to Parliament.
“Let Najib turn up in Parliament on Monday and justify the despatch of the shocking letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to the CIA five days before the 14th general election.
“He should also explain when Parliament had approved the setting up of an intelligence unit in the Prime Minister’s Office and the details about the budget and operations of the secret intelligence unit under him,” Lim said in a press statement.
Lim said the letter painted Najib as a progressive leader and a staunch supporter of the US while describing Dr Mahathir as “anti-West” should never have been sent by any self-respecting government or official.
“It is just not good enough for Najib to now claim that he, as the Prime Minister at the time did not instruct the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to write the letter to the CIA seeking US support for the Barisan Nasional against Pakatan Harapan five days before the May 9 general election,” Lim said.
Lim added that MCA’s sole parliamentarian, Ayer Hitam MP Wee Ka Siong, had avoided his question in Parliament on whether he was aware of the said letter as Wee was a former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
In his statement, Lim also called Najib the “worst prime minister in Malaysian history.”