Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Najib and Rosmah thumb their noses

As expected, Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor have decided against complying with a subpoena ordering them to take the witness stand in the sodomy trial against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

This is the same tactic used by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, when he sacked and jailed Anwar on manifestly trumped-up sodomy charges in 1998.

"It indicates guilt. What else is there? If they are a responsible couple with good morals and have nothing to hide, why not take the stand? What is there to be so uptight about? Show Malaysians what civic mindedness and social responsibility is about," PKR vice president Tian Chua toldMalaysia Chronicle.

But that is not likely to happen. Both Najib and Rosmah filed their applications on Wednesday, through their lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik.

Irresponsible is not cool

With GE-13 looming nearer by the day - with many now whispering it will take place before Christmas - Najib and Rosmah had been expected to look for a way out of their responsibility.

It is telling that just a day ago, Najib had bragged about a re-branding exercise to make him appear to be a ‘cool’ prime minister, so as to attract young voters to the BN fold.

“Not cool, not cool,” PKR president Wan Azizah Wan ismail told reporters on Wednesday.

Pundits had already said chances were high the first couple would apply to the courts to have the subpoena set aside. It is the only way to thwart such a court order, otherwise Anwar can demand for a warrant of arrest against them if they did not turn up.

It was back in August that both Najib and Rosmah refused to be interviewed as potential witnesses by the courts. So, left without a choice, Anwar's lawyers subpoenaed them.

Another public relations exercise on the way

Given Malaysia's skewed judiciary system, there is little doubt that the first couple will be granted their application, following which, they can be expected to launch another high-profile public relations exercise to 'clean' up their image.

Najib has already splashed hundreds of millions of taxpayers' money on public relations to improve his image at home and abroad. Recently, he got into trouble after it was exposed that he had paid FBC Media RM55 million to churn out positive propaganda about his administration and get it screened on international stations such as CNN, CNBC and BBC. The British industry regulator is now probing FBC for unethical practice. The news of the scandal traveled around the world, disgracing Malaysia.

“There’s a great deal of evidence around us to show what a waste of taxpayers’ money this is,” international branding expert Steve Anholt told the local BFM Radio station in a phone interview this morning. He was referring to the FBC Media scandal.

“First of all, the countries that tend to spend most money on these PR campaigns to fix their image tend to be the rogue nations. So I’m afraid I think the whole thing is an absolute scam and a shocking and indefensible waste of taxpayers’ money."

What Anwar said

Anwar was accused of sodomising his former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan in June 2008. He has pleaded not guilty and has accused Najib and Rosmah of cooking up the conspiracy against him.

"Y.A. (Your Honour), when making the order for the witnesses offered to the defence for interview in court, gave a lifeline to the witnesses in stating in open court that they could refuse to be interviewed. Y.A. did not in doing so evenly handle the scales of justice. Y.A. created and perpetuated an imbalance unbecoming anyone holding the mantle of justice. In fact, the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak, and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah binti Mansor, former Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan, and SAC Dato’ Rodhwan bin Ismail who featured prominently in the evidence of PW1 came to the interview room echoing similar protests namely, “We are not prepared to be interviewed” with the Prime Minister saying Y.A. suggested this could be done. These were material witnesses compelling the defence now to resort to causing subpoenas to be issued for their presence," Anwar had said at the start of his trial last month.

"The preparation entailed in this conspiracy was most elaborate and went all the way to the Prime Minister himself and his wife Rosmah Mansor both of whom by the complainant’s own admission had met him in their residence where he purportedly complained of being sexually assaulted. The initial statement by Najib that he had met with the complainant merely to discuss about a scholarship was a blatant lie only to be retracted later after various exposes were made via the social media and the internet blogs. It was obvious that neither Najib nor Rosmah would not want to be seen to be part of the conspiracy being themselves embroiled in a series of other scandals the details of which have been raised in Parliament which to date have never been categorically refuted. But the stakes in this conspiracy are so high that nothing can be left to pure chance for indeed the prospect of the UMNO led Barisan Nasional losing power to Pakatan Rakyat is becoming more real by the day.

[Source: MC]

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