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19 Mar 2016

Why The Four Corners Crew Was Arrested In Sarawak

The Malaysian corruption scandal involves Australia. We educated some of them and they own hotels and a timber company here.
By Lindsay Murdoch
Eroglu (L) Besser (R) leave Sarawak
Bangkok: "I came here for my children's education, that's all," Santamil Selvi angrily shouted at a Kuala Lumpur press conference, under close questioning from the ABC's Linton Besser.
It was a gotcha moment for Besser and his cameraman Louie Eroglu – this is probably when the official clock started counting down on their stay in Malaysia – but it was also a dramatic reminder of the role that patronage politics and an entrenched system of payments still plays in the way the country is run.
Santamil had just revealed that she was offered 20,000 Malaysian ringgit ($A6460) to apologise to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak  and his family for alleging their involvement in the sensational murder of a Mongolian socialite in Kuala Lumpur in 2006.
Altantuya Shaariibuu
 Santamil is the widow of a private investigator who watched over Altantuya Shaariibuu before she was killed. It is not the first time that money has intervened in the case surrounding this gruesome murder.
Fairfax Media revealed in February that Sirul Azhar Umar, a Malaysian police bodyguard convicted of the murder, made videos distancing Mr Najib from the crime in January 2015 – at the same time that he was attempting to blackmail his government for $17 million to keep quiet.
A shadowy middleman with links to high-level Malaysian officials sent a message back to Sirul saying "they want to discuss".

The murder of 28-year-old Ms Shaariibuu has dogged Mr Najib during his seven years in office, despite his repeated denials of any involvement, while his office has described attempts to link him to the crime as "entirely false smears motivated by political gain".

Besser and Eroglu were deported on Tuesday after trying to question Mr Najib in Sarawak over how more than $A1 billion turned up in his private bank accounts in 2013 and 2012.

The scandal has focused attention on the nexus between politics and business in the long-ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

The Hong Kong-based Asia Sentinel reported earlier this month that once a month each of UMNO's 191 district chiefs receives 50,000 Malaysian ringgit ($A12,040) for expenses from Mr Najib's personal accounts.

The online news site claimed the system has sustained party loyalty through several prime ministers for 35 years and points to deep, long-running corruption of Malaysia's political system.

Analysts say that despite allegations swirling around Mr Najib's financial affairs and his management of heavily indebted state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), his support in UMNO appears unassailable.

Mr Najib has purged his critics in UMNO, including an attorney-general who was investigating the 1MDB scandal, and cracked down on dissent from the media and academics.

Teck Chi Wong, a former Malaysian journalist studying at the Australian National University's Crawford School of Public Policy, said Malaysia's flawed political system has kept Mr Najib in power.

"Almost all power and resources are concentrated in the hands of the prime minister," Mr Teck wrote on the New Mandala academic website.

"These strengths are then abused by politicians like Najib to consolidate their position within UMNO … this isn't helped by the fact that many UMNO members rely on government contracts to make a living," he wrote.

"Many democratic institutions, which were established and inherited from the British political system to perform checks and balances, are also in a deplorable state."
Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said that investigations into 1MDB in the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland could prove a more potent threat to Mr Najib than the alliance Dr Mahathir has forged with opposition MPs in a bid to topple the leader.

In Switzerland, prosecutors investigating 1MDB said in January that they believed around  $US4 billion had been stolen from Malaysian state-owned companies.
UMNO cronies Najib and Taib

And in Paris, French prosecutors are also pursuing claims relating to Ms Shaariibuu, who was abducted outside the home of one of Mr Najib's closest friends and shot twice in the head while she begged for the life of her unborn child, before her body was blown up with military-grade explosives.

Ms Shaariibuu worked as a translator in the final stages of a deal for Malaysia to buy two French/Spanish submarines when Mr Najib was defence minister.

She wrote a letter demanding $US500,000 to keep quiet about alleged kickbacks paid to high-level Malaysian officials. Mr Najib denies any wrongdoing.

Sirul, who is being held in Sydney's Villawood detention centre, and another of Mr Najib's former bodyguards who is on death row in Kuala Lumpur, have been convicted of Ms Shaariibuu's murder and sentenced to death.

"Bodyguards follow orders. So who gave the orders?" Dr Mahathir asked during an interview last week with London's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

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