CALL FOR GE13 NOW – Anwar: No escaping Jan 17 GFI roundtable or Rosmah’s diamond scandal

4 January 2013

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Malaysia Chronicle

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim told Prime Minister Najib Razak to call for general elections as soon as possible ” so that the people can decide” rather than to let ‘out-of-control’ corruption swamp the country and erode the national coffers.

“The utter silence from them shows their total abdication of responsibility… their poor leadership and lack of governance. We would seek that they call for general election as soon as possible so that the people can decide,” Anwar told a press conference on Thursday.

He was responding to a question on the lack of response by the Najib administration to a string of corruption scandals recently brought to the fore by former IGP Musa Hassan and controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan.

January 17 GFI roundtable

The 64-year-old Anwar, widely touted to be Malaysia’s next prime minister, chided Najib and his Umno-BN government for refusing to clear the air over the latest corruption expose’s or to acknowledge two disturbing international reports that have roiled investors and shocked the nation.

“Our ranking on the Transparency International index has continued to slip and they did not even bother to respond to the Global Financial Integrity report,” said Anwar.

Anwar also said that the GFI had agreed to participate in a roundtable to discuss Malaysia’s shock rise in illicit outflows that amounted to RM200 billion in 2010 and RM871 billion for the 10 years from 2001 to 2010.

“GFI has replied to our letter and the tentative date for the roundtable will be January 17,” said PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli, who was also present at the press conference.

Malaysia moved up 2 notches in the latest Global Financial Integrity report released last month and is now considered the third most corrupt country in the world after China and Mexico. For the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, US$285 billion was siphoned out from Malaysia, while China and Mexico posted cumulative outflows of US$2.74 trillion and US$476 billion respectively.

Rosmah’s diamonds add to Malaysia’s already tarnished corruption image

Apart from the warnings issued by the global watchdog bodies, the country has been rocked by a string of shocking exposes’ from two high profile people.

Ex-police chief Musa Hassan has publicly accused Najib’s cousin, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, of interfering in police work to ensure desired political outcomes. But the most sensational ‘whistle-blower’ has been Deepak, a former close friend of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor and once part of her inner circle.

After a falling out with the First Lady over a business deal involving Ministry of Defense land in Selangor, Deepak had gone on a no-holds-barred tell-all campaign against the Najibs. He not only revealed that the first couple had asked him to facilitate the withdrawal of a statutory declaration in 2008 that implicated them in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder, but provided key documents that led to the latest scandal over Rosmah’s purported diamond purchases.

Invoices and bank-in slips provided by Deepak show a jaw-dropping trail of jewellery acquisitions, which he had alleged were purchases his firms made for Rosmah. Deepak had also revealed that he paid the Najibs “millions” to secure Najib’s green light for the Ministry of Defense land deal. 19 pieces of jewellery costing RM13 million were bought purportedly for Rosmah over a three month period in 2009.

The entire episode has tarnished Malaysia’s already tattered image, increasing investor sensitivties over the alarming rise in corruption levels especially against the backdrop of the recent GFI report. Diamonds have long been an alternative currency, just like gold, popular with investors and underworld money-laundering syndicates. The gems have an added advantage of being easy to transport as well as to smuggle in and out of international borders.

“It is very simple. Deepak has made these accusations against Rosmah and he has shown documents and bank-in slips as proof he bought these diamonds for her. It is now for her to deny if it is not true. These are very serious allegations that touches on the office of the Prime Minister,” Rafizi told Malaysia Chronicle at the sidelines of a press conference on Wednesday.

“But as we have seen in the past, there has always been deafening silence whenever there are documents that show corruption. This is also not the first time time Rosmah has been involved in a cincin (ring) incident. In the end, the Customs documents did show that there was such a diamond ring worth US$ 24 million despite counter-claims from the Najib administration that it was just the Opposition bad-mouthing her.”

June GE13 date?

However despite the awful avalanche of damning corruption accusations, there has only been deafening silence from Najib and his Umno coalition, prompting concern that Malaysia was now on “auto-pilot, with the Umno-BN federal government likened by critics to being a ‘headless chicken’ due to Najib’s mysterious absence.

In the past fortnight, apart from his New Year’s Eve televised message, it is Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who has been making public statements.

There is growing talk of a deep rift within Umno and that Najib had been asked to step down ahead of the 13th general election which must be called by the middle of this year.

“The latest insider information we have is that GE13 will only be held in June to allow Umno time to heal from the current surgery to cut out Najib and Rosmah first,” PKR leader Wong Chen told Malaysia Chronicle.

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