The shocking revelation, contained in a statutory declaration by Death Row inmate Azilah Hadri, that former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak ordered the killing of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu has sent both citizens and politicians reeling.
However, another statutory declaration released last week by a one-time aide of PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim alleging that he was sexually molested by the Prime Minister-in-waiting has far-reaching consequences, with many speculating that there may even be a “Sodomy 3” debacle that will affect the handing over of the reigns of government by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In this week’s declaration, Azilah, in an application for a review of his conviction and death sentence, admitted that he and another policeman, Sirul Azhar Umar, killed Altantuya in 2006 after receiving an explicit “shoot to kill” order as members of the elite Police Special Action Force (UTK) from Najib and his former associate, Abdul Razak Baginda.
Sirul, who was also convicted and sentenced to death with Azilah, managed to flee to Australia. He is being held in an immigration detention centre there.
If Azilah’s allegations are to be believed, it means there was a complete breakdown of the law and a “devastation of the nation’s political leadership and a breakdown of the entire government machinery”, as one commentator put it.
The implications are very serious and deep-rooted, involving former government officers and those serving in the new administration.
Meanwhile, investigations are being carried out into the alleged sexual misconduct by Anwar Ibrahim, who is touted to be the next Prime Minister.
Former staff member Muhammed Yusoff Rawther accused the politician of sexual misconduct at the latter’s residence in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur, in October last year.
Politicians, as well those linked to Anwar, are being questioned as part of the probe into the alleged offence.
It appears Anwar’s much-heralded takeover of the premiership will be put on the back-burner until the sordid matter is cleared up. And his hopes of becoming the next Prime Minister may be fading by the week.
The contents of both declarations may be explosive but they have strengthened Dr Mahathir’s grip on the country’s bleak political landscape.
With Azilah’s declaration, Umno’s and especially Najib’s influence are now in tatters. Najib made the mistake of taking a dig at Dr Mahathir by taking sole credit for the Tanjung Piai by-election when the Bersatu candidate was crushed by a massive majority.
Najib, while facing a slew of corruption charges, has been out on bail and free to make comments and take potshots at ruling members of the Pakatan Harapan government.
The former Prime Minister may have gone too far for Dr Mahathir to countenance. The 94-year-old is not one to forget his friends or his foes.
Najib, instead of concentrating on his defence while out on bail, has been active in politics, campaigning in the two by-elections that have been won by his Barisan Nasional coalition and Umno.
And as he has been able to hit at PH’s policies and governance at will, Umno had for a time experienced a resurgence in popularity. So confident was Umno that there was even talk of a backdoor takeover of the government by aligning itself with certain parties in PH and moving a no-confidence vote on Dr Mahathir.
Malaysia is a nation where the rumour mills have thrived for decades in the absence of reliable and credible news source.
So, even after the news about Najib’s alleged hand in the Altantuya murder was broken by news portal Malaysiakini, the mainstream media was slow reporting it, waiting for official announcements by the police and lawyers.
This gap in information has kept fuelling the rumour mill and this is working in Dr Mahathir’s favour. As one analyst put it: “You can accuse Dr Mahathir of being a dictator and even Machiavellian. But never the other ‘m’ word.”
With the two statutory declarations up his sleeve, the world’s oldest Prime Minister is set to reign unfettered for as long as he wants. Moreover, there does not seem to be anyone in the near or distant horizon to take over the reins from him.