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HEARSAY: No link between submarine deal and Altantuya
IN an open letter to his former party president soon after he quit Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), outspoken member of parliament Zulkifli Noordin wrote how he was forced to part ways with the opposition party two years ago.
Ticking off Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for asking him to vacate his seat, the now independent lawmaker instead challenged her to quit as president for allegedly not defending Islam.
"I never wanted to make any statement against her, not merely because I have respect for her as my elder, but because we have been through many bittersweet memories. She has confided many times in me about her family over the past 12 years that I have been with them."
But he was quick to tell her off: "Please don't force me to do and say things that I do not wish and want to say."
Zulkifli's real political target these days, as we know, is not Wan Azizah, but her husband and opposition leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, as political battles heat up ahead of the next general election.
Zulkifli, a maverick lawyer, was a confidant of the de facto PKR leader. He was also detained under the Internal Security Act in 1998 along with Anwar and 16 others in the wake of the sacking of Anwar as deputy prime minister.
He won the Kulim-Bandar Baru parliamentary seat in the 2008 general election.
But he soon fell out of favour with Anwar and PKR over issues that he said were against his Islamic principles.
And last week, he dropped a bombshell at Parliament, alleging an opposition attempt to link Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu following the purchase of two Scorpene submarines.
Speaking at the Dewan Rakyat during a debate, Zulkifli claimed that Anwar had allegedly asked him to "create, fabricate evidence" implicating Najib in the murder case, even after he insisted that there was no such evidence.
"Tiada sebesar zarah pun bukti Perdana Menteri terlibat dalam kes pembunuhan Altantuya dan apabila saya beritahu Anwar, dia marahkan saya. Anwar kata, kalau tiada bukti, kamu kena adakan bukti tersebut, tetapi sebagai peguam yang berprinsip saya tidak mengikut arahan berkenaan. (There is not one iota of proof that the prime minister is involved in the murder of Altantuya, and when I told Anwar this, he scolded me. Anwar said even if there was no proof, you have to come up with proof, but as a lawyer with principles, I did not heed the directive)."
"Kalau ada bukti sudah lama saya gunakan untuk menyerang Perdana Menteri, tetapi hari ini isu pembelian kapal selam Scorpene ditimbulkan lagi. Apa tujuan mereka timbulkan isu ini, tujuannya tidak lain untuk kembali mengaitkan Najib dengan kes pembunuhan Altantuya yang terbukti fitnah. (If there was proof, I would have used it a long time ago to attack the prime minister, but today, the issue of the acquisition of the Scorpene submarines has been brought up again.
The reason they are raising this is to link Najib with the Altantuya murder case, which has already been proven to be a false accusation.)"
At that point of time, Zulkifli was a lawyer for Anwar as well as one of the lawyers representing the accused in the murder case.
To Zulkifli, Anwar's tactics seemed all too familiar. "The aim is just to create doubt. It is political expediency at all cost. This is dangerous for the country," he said outside the chamber. "I would not compromise my position as a lawyer."
Based on the facts of the murder case, there was also no connection between the submarine deal and Altantuya. The agreement for the purchase of the submarines was signed in 2002, while Altantuya came into the picture only in 2004.
Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, the independent member of parliament for Bayan Baru, said: "So, how can the opposition say that Altantuya was involved in the purchase of the Scorpene submarines? This shows that some people had acted based on hearsay."
The people who are championing the Scorpene issue by taking their complaint to a judge in France are mostly from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Suaram, which is pro-PKR.
It is far from being an independent NGO. As someone said, Suaram > PKR > Suaram.
Suaram apparently held a second fundraising dinner in Petaling Jaya yesterday to raise some RM300,000 to pay for the legal fees of its lawyers.
Whatever its cause, it is simply not behaving like an independent NGO that is concerned about issues of human rights and transparency; it is behaving like a political party in an election season.