Saturday, July 23, 2011

Malaysia Deports French Lawyer

William Bourdon arrived in Penang on Thursday. The next day, he traveled to Kuala Lumpur - but he was not permitted to disembark from the plane. Instead he was detained and subsequently deported. The Immigration Department told much later that this action was taken as Bourdon had violated the terms of his social visit pass. No further explanation was offered.

Bourdon was the French lawyer - working pro-bono - representing the human rights advocacy group Suaram, the latter having filed a legal case against DCNS back in December 2009 alleging corruption in a 114 million euros ($164 million) that the French shipbuilder paid to Malaysian firm Perimekar Sdn Bhd to facilitate the submarine deal. The matter has passed the initial inquiry stage and is expected to be heard in French courts in September of this year.

Of course Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied there was any corruption. He was defense minister in 2002 when Malaysia ordered the two diesel-electric Scorpene attack submarines as part of a naval upgrade. (We have since received both the submarines).

According to Malaysiakini, "thus far Bourdon's team had uncovered evidence which may point to millions of ringgit paid out to top Malaysian government officials" (July 22, 2011).

Anyway, I can only speculate that Bourdon's speaking engagement in Penang where he said those beneficiaries and kickbacks from the RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal would be revealed may have triggered paranoia. After all, he was addressing Malaysians 'live' and this definitely will not sit well with the crooks in high places. Besides, Bourdon knows too much and for him to be in Malaysia is indeed a chilling prospect because more Malaysians will get to hear from him. And don't forget, Najib is alleged to be involved in this deal somehow.

So it is understandable lah that the government is very afraid!

The other disturbing point is that Malaysian authorities failed to acknowledge the fact that Bourdon was Suaram’s lawyer on the submarine case and that his deportation would be a breach of his right to perform his duty as a lawyer – not that the government gives two hoots about it.

And this has also opened up other cans of worms. There is now renewed interest in other billion-ringgit Malaysian defense contracts which some parties have claimed to be as scandalous as the RM7.3 billion Scorpene deal highlighted above. DAP’s Tony Pua identified these as the RM2.3 billion for 12 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters, RM6 billion for six offshore patrol vessels (OPV) and RM7.8 billion for 257 armored personnel carriers. He said that questions over these deals in the media or in Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee were met with the repeated refrain of “itu rahsia” (that is secret) – the armed forces and defense ministry officials had insisted they could not expose military secrets to the rest of the world. Okay, this is another joke, hahaha!

No comments: