Najib's hold begins to unravel: Hisham orders probe against Anwar

Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak sidestepped questions on whether he had complained to Saudi Arabia that two princes in its royal family were funding his arch rival Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, whose Pakatan Rakyat coalition is gaining ground against his government which is expected to call for snap general elections soon.

"This is a Saudi investigation. I don’t wish to comment,” Malaysian Insider reported Najib as saying.

Given the embarrassing nature of the incident sparked by a secret report unveiled by U.S. broadcaster CNN, Najib's refusal to add to the scandal is not surprising. In fact, he has already retaliated by asking his cousin Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein to probe Anwar for his "terror links".

"It's got nothing to do with Najib. It is just a CNN report linking him (Anwar) to a terrorist organization. I have asked the terrorist taskforce and I have asked the Special Branch, and they are linking up with the Saudi's intelligence to find out to what extent is Anwar Ibrahim linked to this terrorist group," Malaysiakini reported Hishammuddin as saying.

"This is not a political issue. This is a security issue - like it or not, we must take this seriously."

What CNN actually said

Oddly, Hisham's closing comment eerily echoed Anwar's when opposition chief had demanded that Parliament investigate Najib's powerful strategic communications adviser APCO for having links with the Israeli secret service, Shin Bet.

Anwar had warned of risks to Malayisa's national security, partly due to fears of APCO's influence in Najib's foreign policy. Speculation is rife that the powerful New-York based firm was the puppet-master behind Najib's international maneuvers.

Hisham and other BN media have been quick to cover up for Najib after he was caught out in the lie by the international community. They have tried to turn it around and are accusing Anwar of links to terror groups. But the CNN news report published on its site is quite clear. The first 5 paragraphs read as follow:

"In August last year, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was not happy with Saudi Arabia. He complained that the Saudis appeared to be funding an opposition candidate, Anwar Ibrahim, in upcoming elections.

"What's more, the Malaysian authorities suspected two senior Saudi princes of involvement. The Saudis launched an investigation, and uncovered something very different -- and more alarming.

"A secret report seen by CNN concludes: "There is no evidence any Saudi official ever supported Anwar Ibrahim" and "claims of support from the Saudi royals named in the initial report [names redacted] were found to be without basis."

But the investigation found that hundreds of millions of dollars of Saudi money had been funneled to leading Islamist politicians and political activists overseas. It also found that al Qaeda and the Taliban were still able to use Saudi Arabia for fund-raising, despite numerous measures to choke off those sources of cash.

"According to a Saudi source who is not authorized to speak publically, "People close to the senior leadership of the Taliban live in Saudi Arabia and send money back" [to the Taliban]."

An eye-opener for the world

Yet despite the clarity of the report, Najib has seen fit to order his troops to cover up for him with further falsehoods. In his trips overseas, he has tried hard to lobby for support against Anwar, persuading world leaders that he was not the villain behind the conspiracy to jail Anwar on sodomy charges.

But the latest response from his media, government and cousin is an eyeopener - not only for Malaysians but also for the international community. Keeping a close watch on developments are powerful foreign investors and diplomats. Anwar's supporters say the BN's retaliation only underscores the unreliability and insincerity of Najib's administration.

"We cannot be flip about this. We are talking about a very dangerous regime that is being advised by a very dangerous entity. Malaysia is in real danger now because it is being run by desperate people who have everything to lose. They will try to get away with anything, and that is what makes the prospect of Malaysia becoming like Zimbawe and Myanmar no longer small," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

Fear of being brought to justice for corruption

Malaysians themselves have little doubt that the going will get even rougher in the months ahead.

Most anticipate that Najib and his BN allies will stage a coup in order to cling to power. The BN's biggest fear of giving up federal control is that the Pakatan will seek redress for the massive corruption they committed during their five decades in power.

Just days ago, deputy Trade minister Mukhriz Mahathir said the government would not probe a Global Financial Integrity report that revealed Malaysia experienced illicit outflows of funds totalling US$291 billion or RM881 billion during the period 2000 to 2009.

Mukhriz is the son of former premier Mahathir Mohamad whom Barry Wain, an Asian Wall Street Journal editor-turned-author, had accused of having squandered US$100 billion in corrupt and wasteful deals during his time in power.

Umno politicians have also accused GFI, a well-known global think-tank, of being an obscure group with suspicious motives. The Washington-based body has today offered to help Malaysia trace these illegal outflows.

All eyes are now on whether Najib, who is also the finance minister, will dare accept the GFI offer as a probe could unravel the misdeeds chalked by his colleagues and himself, if any.

Najib's nightmare

In any event, Anwar has demanded a full-scale probe.

“There must not be a cover up. It is stealing from the country and keeping it in foreign banks, institutions,” Anwar had said.

The 63-year old opposition chief is not only fighting sodomy charges he has accused Najib of fabricating, but has also been suspended from Parliament for 6 months for exposing APCO's link to the Israeli secret service, Shin Bet. This means that Anwar will be locked out in the coming March parliamentary session.

The BN is expected to ram through a slew of "security" laws including tight curbs on the online media in preparation for snap polls forecast to be called later this year and which Najib has already vowed to win "at all costs" including" crushed bodies", "lost lives" and "ethnic cleansing".

“It shows how afraid Najib is of Pakatan Rakyat in the coming General Election,” Anwar said in an early morning statement issued in the wake of the CNN bombshell.

“I won’t be surprised that the Prime Minister is constantly going overseas not to tap foreign investments but also to defame and tarnish me.”

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