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Friday, July 29, 2011

RM24mil ring: Denial or cover up? Rosmah says "nothing I want to say"

Sulaiman Kamal | 9:15 PM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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At last, Rosmah Mansor, the controversial wife of Prime Minister Najib Razak has deigned to break her silence on a RM24.4 million diamond ring she purportedly bought from an exclusive New York jewellery chain, Jacob & Co.
But while the UMNO press rushed to report her comments as a denial, Pakatan Rakyat leaders point out that she never actually said she did NOT import the ring or did NOT buy the ring, nor was she NOT connected in anyway with the ring.
In fact, her words were "there is nothing I want to say because I have no time to address such things. Let (the blogger) say what he wants."

She then moved straight on to grab some public sympathy with this comment.
“This is slander but what have I not experienced? I have experienced it all. So, rather than address this, it is better I pay attention to publicissues as these are more important,” Malaysian Insider reported her as saying on Thursday during a vist to Kedah.
Furthermore, according to Pakatan Rakyat leaders, at no time did she mention or encourage the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to cooperate with the Customs Department for the purpose of conducting an independent and thorough investigation to clear her name.
"This is typical Rosmah. She may have been trying to appeal to the rural audience. But it doesn't cut any ice at all. If she was a responsible citizen, she would have given an outright denial and explanation," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
"Secondly, she should also insist that the MACC and Customs immediately investigate the allegation. She should also demand that the findings are made public. We want to ask Rosmah, why didn't she do these things. Is she encouraging a cover up?"
The gargantuan 'Natural Fancy Blue Gray Cushion Cut Diamond Ring' was originally said to be worth US$24.4 million or RM73 million. News of it hit cyberspace earlier this month and shocked everyday Malaysians, who could not believe that anyone could splurge such a huge sum on an ornament, although the super-rich also see it as an investment.
Still, it was jaw-dropper and tough for the First Lady to deny, given that the blogger who first broke the story had very authentic-looking screenshots of the Customs computer system confirming such the import. One glaring factor pointed out was that tax on the ring was waived. (scroll below to view)
Moving into defense mode, UMNO bloggers then claimed that the ring was brought into Malaysia  to be exhibited to a group of select tycoons who might want to buy the ring. They said Rosmah was just trying to 'help' by agreeing to inspect the ring, and this is why her name appeared in the Customs record.
Sad to say, the high-class 'tupperware party' raised a fresh slew of questions as to whether Jacob & Co was paying Rosmah any commission and more pertinently, was she declaring tax on the commissions.
Many Malaysians also saw the humor in the parallel dogging her husband Najib Razak, the country's 6th prime minister. Najib has been accused of receiving kickbacks in relation to the navy's RM7.3 billion purchase of 2 Scorpene submarines. He has denied any financial improriety.
Probe must go on, Customs has yet to explain
Meanwhile, PKR Youth leader Badrul Hisham Shahrin has demanded that the MACC continue its probe and not freeze investigations just because of Rosmah's denial. Badrul had lodged a report with the Penang MACC earlier this month. So far, the Customs department has not responded at all. (scroll below for video)
"We need professionalism in all our institutions. We lodged the report more than a week ago, but so far, not response. We understand they may need a bit more time but we hope they won't take this as an excuse to close the file. Just because Rosmah says she didn't buy it, MACC cannot just accept her word as good. MACC and Customs owe it to the people to be independent and flag out wrongdoing by the government even all the way to the top," Badrul told Malaysia Chronicle.
Najib and wife had earlier this month gone on an overseas trip to visit 3 countries in their official capacity including London and Rome.
Just days ago, the New York Post reported that Jho Low, a controversial young tycoon who is a good friend of Rosmah's son, had paid a record price for a super-luxury penthouse in downtown New York.
That the plush condo was a mere 10 minutes' walk from Jacob & Co - believed to be Rosmah's favourite shopping haunt - raised eyebrows and sparked comment that she too may have been involved in that deal. 

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