Najib Razak’s link to sex scandal and Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy accusation rock Malaysia

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, right, with his deputy, Najib Razak. Mr. Najib’s name has surfaced in connection with the case of a woman who was killed in 2006

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, right, with his deputy, Najib Razak. Mr. Najib’s name has surfaced in connection with the case of a woman who was killed in 2006

By THOMAS FULLER, New York Times
Published: August 4, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Government censors in this majority Muslim nation have upheld an ethos of modesty by snipping sex scenes from films and banning entertainers from wearing outfits that reveal too much on Malaysian stages; bare belly buttons and figure-hugging outfits are off limits.

But these days Malaysians looking to avoid R-rated content might be advised to steer clear of news reports about their own leaders. Two top politicians are embroiled in scandal, one accused of sodomy and the other of romantic links to a Mongolian woman gruesomely killed in 2006.

Reports on the finer points of a rectal examination and revelations about the sexual preferences of the dead woman make other sex scandals that once shocked people here — including Monica Lewinsky and her blue dress — seem almost Victorian.

This is not the first time that sex and politics have collided in Malaysia. In the 1990s, the sodomy trial of Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, featured, among other highlights, a bloodstained mattress being hauled into the courtroom.

This time, wider use of the Internet has helped disseminate documents, facts and rumors that would otherwise have been filtered out of the mainstream news media that are tightly controlled by the government.

The scandals encompass much more than sex; each is a potential career-ender for a man vying to become Malaysia’s next prime minister, with control over a political patronage system that dominates the economy.

Mr. Anwar is now facing new accusations of sodomy — a crime punishable here by up to 20 years in prison — at a time when he is making strides toward unseating the governing coalition, which has run Malaysia since its independence from Britain 51 years ago. His principal political rival, Najib Razak, the deputy prime minister and anointed heir to the current prime minister, has been persistently linked to the slain Mongolian woman, despite his insistence that he never even met her. She was shot and her body obliterated with explosives in the jungle outside Kuala Lumpur.

The defendants in that case are a former political adviser to Mr. Najib and two commandos who were bodyguards for Malaysia’s top leaders.

Tampering is suspected in both cases. Testimony revealed that immigration records of the slain woman had been deleted. Witnesses have dropped from sight, including a private investigator, Balasubramaniam Perumal, who said in a sworn statement in early July that the Mongolian woman was Mr. Najib’s mistress. He retracted his allegations the next day in a hastily convened news conference, and then disappeared, along with his wife and three children. The family’s two Rottweilers were left behind in their cages.

“It’s obvious what has happened here,” said Americk Sidhu, the investigator’s lawyer. “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. Somebody needed him to shut up.”

Mr. Balasubramaniam, who worked for the Najib adviser now on trial, Abdul Razak Baginda, spent two months writing and revising a 16-page declaration about the case, based on conversations he had with Mr. Abdul Razak and, before her death, with the woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu. [more]Please click here to read the whole article.

Anwar Takes Najib To Task On Altantuya Photos

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has been asked to explain the claim made in a court testimonial today that he had been photographed with murdered Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said it was all the more compelling for the deputy premier to explain since he had previously denied having met her.

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