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Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Jakarta we go: The Rosmah ring, Kazakh mafia and Umno tussle

Sulaiman Kamal | 11:14 PM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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News of a RM24.4 million gargantuan diamond ring allegedly belonging to Prime Minister Najib Razak's wife has reached Indonesian shores. The republic's top newspaper, Kompas, in a rare editorial on the flamboyant Rosmah Mansor even reported the value of the ring as being worth US$24.4 million!
The newspaper also alleged that Nooryana Najib, the Malaysian first couple's 22-year daughter, was marrying into a family with links to the Russian mafia. According to Kompas, Nooryana's mother-in-law had ties to the European underworld.
Sensational reading but little of which has not been whispered around Malaysia. Firstly, the ring itself, which Rosmah dismissed as gossip that was not worth her attention, is believed to be part of Nooryana's dowry and a special gift to Rosmah, who is known for her ultra luxurious taste. Even before stories of the ring and a super-plush New York penthouse hit the headlines, Rosmah was frequently grilled by opposition lawmakers in Parliament for her excessive spending on overseas trips, often with large entourages on first class travel at public expense.

UMNO knives are out for Najib
But annoying though the 60-year old Rosmah has been to Malaysians, the current spate of revelations against her is largely the result of a power tussle within the ruling UMNO party. It is well known in the local political scene that both Najib and Rosmah want to stay another term. But Najib's bad performance with hardly any achievement or breakthrough made since taking over from Abdullah Badaiwi in April 2009 has made his party colleagues eager to show him the door.
Pundits say 4 factions are keen to vie for the UMNO presidency at internal party polls due to be held latest by next year. These include Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Kelantan prince Tengku Razaleigh and even Abdullah Badawi. Of course, it is unlikely that all four will really contest but will instead try to knock each other out - through all ways and means - before the formal race starts.
For the latest scandal publicised in Jakarta, some of the UMNO media - depending on which faction they are aligned to - have rushed to blame Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for leaking the news. But Anwar's aides say it was not true and that while Anwar's popularity was strong in Indonesia, his clout did not extend to being able to commission a made-to-order news report in the Kompass.
Given that Najib's closest enemies are now from within his own party rather than from Anwar's Pakatan Rakyat, this seems plausible. In fact, UMNO watchers are betting that there is some link with Abdullah, through his ambitious son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin. However, they also speculate that it could be supporters of Muhyiddin or even Razaleigh although the chances were lesser. They pointed out that when Najib and Rosmah first went to Kazakhstan on an official trip, it was Khairy who really got the entire Twitterworld in Malaysia agape at the audacity of the first couple.
Najib and Rosmah were accused by opposition politicians of intentionally scheduling an official visit so as to bring along a huge entourage of personal guest to attend their daughter's engagement party to Daniyar, the nephew of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayez. Daniyar's mother, Maira, is the former wife of the Kazakh president's brother Bolat Nazarbayev.
"Yes for sure, Najib is now weaker than Abdullah," PAS leader Dzulkefly Ahmad told Malaysia Chronicle.
It is now very clear that the scandal-tainted Najib is out of favour. Muhyiddin has the support of top UMNO power-broker, former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who is also considering Razaleigh.
Mafia mother-in-law?
Meanwhile, Kompas, which is the most widely-read newspaper in Indonesia, reported that “Maira Nazarbayev, who lives a lifestyle ala Imelda Marcos supposedly has links to the Russian mafia." It also mentioned Rosmah's alleged ring, which she did not directly deny was hers. She just said it was not worth replying.
“Will this USD$24 million (RM71.15 million) ring open the doors to change and democratisation in Malaysia? Only Malaysians can decide,” Kompas said.
UMNO media have also tried to blame the owner of the shop Jacob & Co as having involved the innocent Rosmah in money laundering activities. Yes, apart from Anwar, they are also lashing out at Maira's underworld links and connecting these to the Jacob & Co's Jewish owner. If their allegations are true, then this would make a criminal of Nooryana's mother--in-law! Can it be that the daughter of Malaysia's first couple has married into a family with global Mafia connections?
This certainly bears investigation. Malaysia is already in the doghouse with world authorities when it comes to money-laundering. To be further implicated especially as directly as alleged as through the Prime Minister's family would require a review of his suitability as the nation's top leader.
All in the family
Coincidentally, the Najib family is not free from scandals either. Nooryana and Daniyar should take heart in their marriage and have confidence in their love rather than be discouraged. Similarities in their families may outpace differences.
Firstly, Najib is believed to have accepted kickbacks from French arms vendor DCN in the early 2000s for purchasing 2 Scorpene submarines for an exorbitant RM7.3billion. Parisian authorities are finalising a probe and open court hearings due to begin next month.
Then, tied into the Scorpenes deal is the murder of a beautiful 28-year old Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was killed on Malaysian soil by two of Najib's former bodyguards. They even used military-grade C$ explosives to bomb her to pieces to prevent identification. But though the two men have been sentenced to hang, the question remains, who ordered them to kill her?

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