In the last two Parts, much have been mentioned about Hong Kong-based news portal, Asia Sentinel. It was playing the covert operation of Dow Jones’s Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) publication towards South East Asian countries, particularly Malaysia but in a small way. .
It so happen that Asia Sentinel’s editor and writer on the alleged Malaysian Scorpene scandal issue is a former FEER writer, John Berthelsen, 74.
He goes way back to the time another of Dow Jones publication, The Asia Wall Street Journal was banned from distribution in Malaysia for three month in September 1986. Two reporters wee asked to leave and he was one of them. [Read in this AP news archives here.]
It takes someone with an ex-to-grind towards Malaysia to write obsessively only on the death of Altantuya and alleged Scorpene corruption scandal. Another obsessive was Malaysiakini writer, loonie Susan Loone who then was writing from Bangkok in her blog. When the event was unfolding, she had something like 60 postings on Altantuya and Scorpene.
As the leading writer for the propaganda, Berthelsen played the role of feeding news and spin ideas for the local pro-opposition news portal and politicians to work on. The mechanism can be seen in Part IV here on how they dramatised the information judiciaire (judicial investigation) process by juges d’instruction (investigating judges).
Before retreating into guerilla strategy, they were lying and distorting the investigation documents in their hands and later leaked by Asia Sentinel. At first SUARAM claimed that they have not seen the documents. Later SUARAM said it was in the possession of their lawyers, but they could not obtain copies. Who were they kidding when news after news was coming out of Asia Sentinel?
It was SUARAM and their lawyers tipping off Asia Sentinel. From March 2012, Asia Sentinel began to unveil new materials, other than repeating the same boring bit on Altantuya's death, Perimekar Euro 115 million alleged kickback and DCNS's other corruption allegations.
Conveniently, the time was right to drum it up into an issue. The general election is expected to be soon.
Indeed they had in hand a sensational finding because in Asia Sentinel’s April 5th 2012 issue entitled, “The Gun Begins to Smoke in Malaysian Sub Scandal”, they broke the story of Hong Kong-registered company of Razak Baginda, Terasasi Ltd:
The Terasasi offices are located on the 19th floor of an office at 3 Lockhart Road in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong. There is no indication in Hong Kong government records of what Terasasi’s business is. It is only listed as a ‘local company’. However, French authorities say Terasasi apparently received regular payments from Thint Asia. One payment was for Euro 360,000 accompanied with a handwritten note saying “Razak wants it to be paid quickly.”Notice they were reporting abut the magistrate securing documents containing this piece of information.
The magistrates have documents that show that the money was funneled from Thint Asia to Terasasi – Euro 3 million of it when Terasasi was still domiciled in Malaysia, and Euro 33 million after it was incorporated in Hong Kong. There is no indication at this point where the money went. French investigators, however, theorize that it was part of Euro 146 million that may have been funneled to officials of the United Malays National Organization and Najib, who traveled with Abdul Razak Baginda several times to France as defense minister at the time the Malaysians purchased the submarines from DCNS.
And notice the typical Pakatan plot that everytime they can't explain anything, they blame it on UMNO. Truly, till today, they couldn't conceive a fair explanation of Terasasi except to accuse it as a conduit for UMNO to channel bribes.
Cheap and shallow ...
USD1 billion for Perimekar?
Asia Sentinel's role was so important that without them the propaganda was ineffective and easily disputable. SUARAM tried to break a news themselves without working in tandem with Asia Sentinel and they failed miserably.
In that press conference on May 30th 2012 in Bangkok after William Bouldon was chased out of Malaysia, they attempted their own spin. Taken from SUARAM website here are extracts below:
The documents seized by the French police from the office of Mr. Henri GIDE (THALES) on 28 May 2010 includes a fax written in English and sent by F. DUPONT dated 1 June 2001 addressed to D. ARNAUD, CCed to BAIOCCO and SAUVAGEOT with “MALAYSIA/SUBMARINE PROJECT” as the subject.
Mr. DUPONT detailed out the chronology of visits and future actions during the journey in Malaysia of which there were various planned undertakings in particular negotiation meetings with the Ministry of Defense and the management members of PERIMEKAR during which two (2) contract proposals would be mentioned (from DCNI to PERIMEKAR as well as between PERIMEKAR and the Malaysian Government).
He finally indicated a meeting with DATO’ SRI NAJIB in France on 14 July 2001 with the condition that DCNI offers a maximum sum of USD 1 billion for PERIMEKAR’s stay (in France).
SUARAM was not thinking straight and they were too obsess and malicious to only lie and slander that logic had begotten the best of them. Imagine that these SUARAM people are mostly lawyers talking and speculating without providing any proof.
Without prejudice, one can with ease speculate that it was Dato Najib exploring a bigger role for Perimekar. There are other shareholders than KS Omak to think off.
But the point is, Perimekar is not paid USD1 billion but €114.96 million, even that was made into an issue as though the whole amount of €114.96 million is kickback.If there is truth, after exchanging to Euro, the sum paid to the manufacturer DCNS is less than RM100 million and the rest must be all kickback.
It is an absurd attempt at a spin.It is the first time the SUARAM people tried to lead the propaganda and they failed.
Daim’s man, Ibrahim
|Dato Ibrahim Mohd Noor in blue
in a signing ceremony for Ikram Berhad
It was the day they tried to confuse the public as though Dato Najib will be sub-poenaed and eventually indicted. The questions of 'sub-poena for what and charged for what' for him to be indicted does not matter as long as it implicated Dato Najib.
Asia Sentinel wrote two articles before and on May 30th, 2012. In the later issue entitled, “New Revelations in Malaysia Sub Scandal”, they created a sensational expose, below:
French prosecutors plowing through 153 documents seized from the French defense contractor DCNS have discovered a confidential report stating that in dealing with major defense contracts between Malaysia and France, substantial transfers of money had to be channeled to individuals and political organizations such as the United Malays National Organization.Interestingly, they devulged having in their possession:
Two of the individuals named were Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, and Mohd Ibrahim Mohd Noor, who was said to be close to Daim Zainuddin, the country’s finance minister at the time of the purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines by Malaysia from a DCNS subsidiary.
It explains why they start to link it with UMNO. They were merely feeding an established perception and prejudice for political purpose.
French prosecutors plowing through 153 documents seized from the French defense contractor DCNS ...No wonder they were having a field day making accusations after accusations. They were abusing their French lawyer’s access to documents to spin ahead without the Government side having a chance to answer. But then, the Government side is too cautious and slow to reply.
On Dato Ibrahim, they just knew that?
What a pity because quite a few knew Dato Ibrahim was pursuing this military deal in an effort of trying to emulate Amin Shah but hopefully more successful at delivering. He had to sell off his BERNAS to Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar after putting in place the infrastructure and this businessman need something to do.
Many of his fellow ANSARA knew of that since early 2000. Ibrahim had an office behind CIMB building in Damansara and there was a little submarine in his meeting room. That was Perimekar's office then.
For SUARAM to just knew that, it just proof they do not know head or tail of what was going on. They were outsiders, novice defense analyst no better than children with toy soldiers, trying to be clever. Without any idea what was going on, they were trying to create an uproar over nothing.
In an earlier Part II here, we attempted to explain Dato Ibrahim's role. He sold out of Perimekar about a year before Government signed the agreement to buy the submarine in June 2002.
Malta-based Gifen and Altantuya
By June 6th, 2012 issue entiled “Malaysia Sub Scandal Spreads to Malta”, Asia Sentinel went on to get more sensational as SUARAM was under pressure in Kuala Lumpur.
This time it was about returning back to the proven formula of Altantuya and they started out as:
According to the Malta-based news portal Malta Today, MP Evarist Bartolo told the Maltese parliament that the French-owned financial consultancy Gifen is being investigated by French officials over allegations that part of a Euro 114 million commission paid to Perimekar Sdn Bhd, then wholly owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, may have been laundered through Malta. The Perimekar commission has been criticized as a subterfuge to steer kickbacks to political figures.
Other news reports from Malta alleged that Gifen was established by Jean-Marie Bouvin, who has been also heavily involved in other sales by the French state-owned company DCN of submarines to Pakistan and frigates to Taiwan. Both of those transactions have been dogged by a flock of spectacular murders.Subsequently on June 25th, 2012, Asia Sentinel leaked all the information and Altantuya story is revived:
On Sep. 29, 2000, according to document D00015, DCNI, a DCN subsidiary took ‘corrective actions’ after France joined the bribery convention. Contracts concluded after that date were to be routed to Eurolux and Gifen, companies held by Jean-Marie Boivin, DCN’s former finance chief, and headquartered in Luxembourg and Malta, respectively. Boivin is being investigated for having played a central role in the ‘corrective actions’ with what were described as ‘outlandish commissions’; traveling through the welter of companies that he established in tax havens around the world. Among the documents is one that shows Boivin paid to send Razak Baginda on a jaunt to Macau with his then-girlfriend, Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian national who was later murdered by two of Najib’s bodyguards.It only shows they had nothing sensational that make sense to sell and they had to resort to the Altantuya formula to regain attention. And there are people who thinks orang puteh are any much smarter than us Asian and these international media are any much more credible.
Malaysiakini's version of spin can be found in Anwar Ibrahim's blog here.
By 1995, according to document DC00078, DCN’s subsidiary Thales was losing out to the German manufacturer Kockums AB, which was represented by Amin Shah, dubbed ‘Malaysia’s Onassis’ because of his business and shipping interests, who was close to then-finance minister Daim Zainuddin and was suspected of being a front man for Daim’s interests.Tun Daim was Finance Minister between 1984 to 1991 and for the second time from 1998 till a year or so before Tun Dr Mahathir left office. Between 1991 to 1998, it was their man Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim that was the Finance Minister. A little correction there.
French authorities seemed to counter by paying a ‘consultancy fee’ according to a handwritten document called a "Consultancy Agreement’ signed in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 1, 1996 between DCN International representative Emmanel Aris and a Malaysian Army major named Abdul Rahim Saad. The purpose was ‘to reintroduce’ DCNI in the short list of tenders after it was rejected by the Government of Malaysia on Dec. 14, 1995, according to the French documents.
Now is it Daim or Anwar then?
Never mind, let's save Anwar the agony of another alleged past wrongdoing. The preposterous thing about Asia Sentinel's claim is that the so-called "bid" for the submarine didn't start until late 2000. The process of technical and commercial evaluation till agreement on June 5, 2002 was 20 months.
They are getting absurd, aren't they?
June 25th, 2012 was the date that 153 documents were leaked. [Get it in Malaysia Today here in pdf file.]
Raja Petra described these documents, in his article, “Inspector Clouseau, where are you?”[same link] as:
Most of the police investigation reports submitted to the court were quite routine in nature, touching on the background of all the French and Malaysian companies involved in the contract plus the role of the various personalities from these companies, including tracking the money trail. It traces the history of the entire transaction to the present day and it explores whether there are any criminal elements in how the transaction was conducted.So far, they only much talked documents are the following:
Raja Petra described this document as:
... statement by the French police submitted to the court that there are no records of Altantuya Shaariibuu, Razak Baginda and/or Najib Tun Razak ever having entered France from 1999, the date the Scorpene submarines were first negotiated, until the day Altantuya was reported murdered. “Document 76
For this document, Raja Petra wrote this document was:
... presented to the court is a statement to the police by Fredric Faura regarding his role in the submarine contract. The police had asked him whether he had ever met Altantuya or knows who she is and he replied that he had never met her or knows of her. He added that they do not need any translator to transact business with Malaysians since Malaysians can all speak perfect English.Document 87
It is about the internal fax that claimed that Dato Najib requested for Perimekar USD1 billion in a trip to France on 14 July 2001. SUARAM thought that this document on something that did not happen is important and significant. Clever ....
SUARAM [read here] claimed that:
The documents seized by the French police include a note for the French Minister of Defense dated 2 June 1999 related to an interview with the Malaysian Minister of Defense and the French-Malaysian diplomatic relationships as far as defense is concerned.
In a document tagged “Malaysia”, there is a confidential report regarding PERIMEKAR and TERASASI. The report includes a note on “Retracing the background of negotiations”. The note states that pursuant to the major defense contracts between France and Malaysia, there is a requirement that substantial transfer of money has to be channeled to individuals and/or political organizations.Document 144
... the crucial documents was the existence of an invoice faxed by TERASASI Sdn Bhd (Company No.524814-P) on 19 September 2004 to Bernard BAIOCCO the then CEO of THALES International Asia. The invoice stated an amount of Euro 359, 450.00 for the purpose of success fees to be paid to Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad.For SUARAM’s allegations based on Documents 97 and 144, Dr Aril Sametok in his blog here disputed their version.
He could see the need for SUARAM to relook what they perceived as “web of lies involving a slew of companies” because it could actually be “a natural evolution" as a result from a business arrangement that though seemed “morally incorrect” but is “legitimate by law.”
Key Document 151
Dr Aril’s reminder is quite relevant in view of Sivarasa's attempt to spin this document as ground to accuse Razak of revealing military secret. He used Nurul Izzah to stretched the hoopla into Parliament.[read us here].
Taken from his blog here dated June 26th 2012, Sivarasa claimed:
“In the file entitled ‘Report of the December 2000 – June 2002 Phase III Part 2’ appeared the evaluation report of the French offer by the Royal Malaysian Navy dated 17 April 2001 followed by a table comparing the specifications of Scorpene and the wishes of the Malaysian Navy (page 29 … ) with the technical assessments. The report concluded (page 30) that the offer was acceptable but an agreement must be reached on a few details notably the delivery.”Opposition can be so naive.
That is only a small segment of the document. If Sivarasa had read it's translation in full, it would have saved him the agony from a major embarassment.
The whole report including the horizontal designed police report in Document 151 is the key to understanding the basis of the whole Scorpene issue. By right, after understanding what Document 151 was all about, only then they look for anything that is in contravention with the law and make informed accusation or questions.
We knew from the off-set that they was nothing basically wrong but when they start to make all these wild allegations, we knew they will have it.
That was why the military, Ministry and Government was quiet. Let them make a fool of themselves. Why should the Government be talking of military issues so openly and in detail? That is keeping military secrets.
All this while, we were having a good laugh at SUARAM and Dr Kua Kia Soong foolish statements.
This document is the key to clearing everything. It will show that there is nothing legally wrong, no contravention of the OECD Convention on Bribery that fixed 'commission' at 3 or 5% cap, and no Frenchmen have broken any law on French soil.
DCNS may have later but earlier with the Chilean and Malaysian, they did not.
The game will be over for them soon.
It is perhaps impolite to describe Dr Kua Kia Soong, Cynthia Gabriel, Sivarasa, Tian Chua, SUARAM and PKR as stupid. They are not.
Another description of them to express similar meaning would be puerile or childish.
On that score, it reminded us of one phrase lawyers love to use. “Don’t play lawyer.”
It is lawyers warning non-lawyers not to prepare your own legal documents based on purely English without knowledge on the intricacy of law.
To these lawyers, social scientist and activist of SUARAM and PKR pretending to understand military in order to make their ludicrous claims, “don’t play military.”
They hardly know what they were doing. Now they have shattered their own reputation.
Watch this space tomorrow afternoon to know about Document 151 and the explanation to refute all their allegations they deduced from the police investigative documents they had leaked.
It is a reminder. If one is not clever and knowledgeable, do not attempt to do investigative work. Always remember, police may come in at lower level of education but they are not stupid.
* Edited and updated: 8:00 PM