Razak Baginda is a hard man to find. His controvesial acquittal from abetting the Altantuya murder came after a prolonged murder trial and almost two years after being arrested at his office. Walking out from the courtroom a free man, he quietly relocated to the United Kingdom to continue his studies and since then has remained out of the public’s eye.
He last surfaced in Singapore on April 19th, 2010 when giving a talk on the Islamic Caliphate at Nanyang Technical University to a group of 40 participants. Other than this event, he has remained out of sight with many speculating that he has chosen to reside in the UK although he may just be keeping his head down in Kuala Lumpur, where he has lived for decades.
But all that lying low may come to an end soon as the French investigators have shown interest in his role in the RM7 billion purchase of Scorpene submarines from French firm DCN.
One of the key holders
There is also the matter of alleged irregularities in the payment of a RM570 million 'support services deal' to Perimekar, a company linked to Baginda. So far in replies to Parliament, the Malaysian government has insisted it was not a kickback to Perimekar for clinching the order but for “co-ordination and support services”. Presumably, it related to the submarines although Perimekar has no known record of such high-tech expertise.
Baginda is definitely one of those holding the keys to Najib Razak’s survival. If ever Baginda chooses to come forward to tell his side of the story, what a moment that would be for Malaysia. Statements by private investigator P Balasubramaniam to the French financial police have painted a picture of the involvement of several military personel in the Altantuya murder.
In the course of the interview, two new names also surfaced — Malaysians identified as Major Rahim and Abdul Rahim bin Saad. What roles do the two Rahims have in the murder is still unclear, but it is a more than fair assumption that Baginda would be in the know.
So all eyes are now shifting to Razak Baginda once again. He has been adamant in professing his innocence of the murder. Yet his link to Altantuya can never be denied.
Baginda even hired Bala to keep her from harassing his family. So while Baginda may have been just as surprised that those more ruthless and with more at stake than him had chosen to cold-bloodedly order her killing, he knows who they are.
By not revealing the truth, is Baginda not just as guilty of abettment as picking up the phone and saying 'do it, men'.
For a man of his learning and capability, it is a shame to choose to err on the side of the dark. Hopefully, one day, he will step out into the light and tell all to the world - for Altanutya is no longer just another sordid Malaysian murder and corruption case, but has gained a global stage.
From the world of academia to switching corpses
Baginda graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in politics and government from London's City Polytechnic in 1982, and gained a master's degree in War Studies at King's College London in 1984. He is certainly no idiot. A smart man with dashing good looks, he returned to Malaysia in 1988, joined the Malaysian Armed Forces Defense College as a lecturer and eventually became head of strategic studies. In 1993, he formed a think-tank called the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre, which is based in Kuala Lumpur. His abilities put him in the front-row seat to be advisor to the then-Defence Minister Najib Razak and eventually as lead negotiator for the purchase of military equipment from France.
With so much going for him, it is not impossible for Baginda to issue a “kill” order to Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, the former bodyguards to Najib and Rosmah who have been sentenced to hang for her death. Certainly, Baginda's wife and family feared he might be made the scapegoat for Altantuya's killing. It would have so easy for the real "killers" to have just shut the prison doors on him and let him suffer the same fate as the two cops, now on death row.
But as Baginda was acquitted, there is also widespread speculation backed by visual evidence that the two bodyguards might also be allowed to cheat death.
There is much speculation the highly odd way the police have always covered up the faces of Azilah and Sirul whenever they went to court was to enable them to eventually 'escape' and return to normal life, but under different identities. Other corpses would be used when the time came to hang them, so the macabre stories abound.
Whole truth or fatal mistake
Why do these 3 men - Baginda, Azilah and Sirul - hold so much 'power'? Who or what is protecting them?
Why haven't the real "killers" opted to throw these three men to the gallows and in this way forever keep their secrets hidden? Is it because the trio has made sure that in the event the worst happened to them, 'information would leak out'.
It would be Baginda's 'information' that would be the most damaging, of course. No surprises, the French investigators would put him top on their list of witnesses. But will he go?
It is anyone's guess what Baginda will do. If he does decide to travel to Paris, what will he tell French? Would the link to Najib and all its ramifications finally come to light? Will Baginda tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Or will he choose to continue riding on his current and extremely comfortable lifestyle - secure in the knowledge that what he knows puts him out of the reach of the powers that be in Malaysia? Sad to say, that may eventually prove to be his fatal mistake. - Maclean Patrick, Wong Choon Mei