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It is hard not to write about Maira Nazarbayev, the controversial in-law of Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor. While the 50-year-old jet-setter accused by her own 'husband' of being an international serial swindler is lapping up the media attention, no matter which way their expensive publicists try to spin it, Maira and her son Daniyar are bad news for Malaysia and the Najibs.
Maira has been sending a series of 'clarifications' through her consultants to selected Malaysian press, where she has denied the news reports written by the reputable tabloid New York Post and carried around the world by the international media.
Given Maira's overblown style and manner, it is not surprising few readers would want to exonerate her or even wish to sympathize with her.
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Until her 'husband' Bolat Nazarbayev, the brother of the Kazakh president, issues a full clarification, most would assume that Maira is lying through her teeth to clear herself, her son as well as do some damage-control for Najib and his family.
She says Bolat says...
The latest news issued by her publicist tries to show that she is not wanted by Interpol, as claimed by the New York Post because she is free to travel on a “long-planned” family vacation to Europe.
Whether she is really traveling, or if the Interpol order has been rescinded for whatever reason, no one knows - yet, that is! Indeed, it would be interesting to find out if the mother and son had ever been on the wanted list.
“I am looking forward to my long-planned family summer vacation in Europe. We are all unaware of who is actually behind these absurd claims and accusations which have caused our family unnecessary embarrassment," Malaysian Insider reported Maira's New York publicist as saying in a statement.
"These scandalous allegations are completely untrue and have been made without any substantiation whatsoever.”
BUT whatever Maira says, the "scandalous allegations" came from documents filed by lawyers acting on behalf of Bolat in a Manhattan court. She has not been able to deny this nor have her own lawyers been able to do so. The best rebuttal from her is that she has spoken to Bolat on the phone a few weeks ago, “he was in shock to learn about this lawsuit.”
“He indicated that since he didn’t sign anything and his signature is not on any court documents, that he was surprised to hear that this took place,” she had told the New York Times.
Was Bolat using Maira's connection to the Najibs to get back his property
According to the Manhattan court papers, Bolat had asked Maira's son Daniyar - who is engaged to Najib's daughter - to look for an apartment for him. Bolat even gave Daniyar a power of attorney but the young man allegedly put his mother's name as owner. She then sold her share to her son for $1.
Why the fuss? Well, the 24-year-old Daniyar is not Bolat's son. Maira had her son's last name changed from Kesikbayev to Nazarbayev on his birth certificate after she managed to marry into Kazakh's first family.
Furthermore, while Maira insists her 2001 marriage to Bolat is still going strong, his lawsuit says he was also granted an annulment in September of last year.
So who is lying - Maira or Bolat? Did Bolat file the papers to threaten her to sign back the ownership of the apartment to him? Did Bolat make full use of the sensational affair AND Maira's weak link - her connection to the Malaysian 'first' family - to pressure her into doing so? Has she finally conceded defeat? Has a deal been struck?
All these are up in air. But whether she has managed to appease Bolat and returned to him his US$20 million New York apartment is moot.
Even if she and her son are not international con-men wanted by the Kazakh police and Interpol, it still cannot brush aside the awful feeling that she had tried to squeeze her ex-lover out his money and property.
Her scruples and those of her son have been raised for international scrutiny, and chances are they have both failed the test. Would you want to have in-laws like these?
Scandals get worse and worse
Meanwhile, Najib's politcal allies in the ruling Umno-BN coalition have insisted that the whole scandal was a private family matter and will not in anyway impinge on Malaysia's image. Obviously, their defense of their boss may be flawed.
Pundits say Najib does not enjoy a good international image thanks to his Jekyll-and-Hyde politics, where he preaches moderation at global forums but orders brutal police crackdowns on peaceful protesters seeking clean elections at home. The influential Washington Post did not dub him the "champion of double" alongside the Saudi leader for nothing.
In France, a court trial into hundreds of millions of euros that Najib allegedly received as illicit commission for buying 2 Scorpene submarines for the Malaysian government is taking place. He has already indicated he won't testify - further compounding the poor image people have of him.
In Australia, the Malaysian diaspora is only too happy to blow the whistle and alert the folk back home whenever Najib and his wife go to the Land Down Under on public expense but for private purposes, and Rosmah goes on another of her legendary shopping sprees putting Imelda's 3,000 pairs of shoes to shame.
In Mongolia, not too far from Kazakhstan, they view Najib with suspicion if not contempt as one of their nationals by the name of Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered by Najib's ex-bodyguards allegedly because she knew too much about his Scorpenes deal.
And now the latest scandal involving the flamboyant Maira, an unknown who found riches through marriages with the rich and powerful. It must also be mentioned that the Kazakh president is regarded by many quarters as a cruel despot equivalent or even worse than Idi Amin or Joseph Stalin.
Malaysian must feel doubly angry when they recall that Najib may have used their money to splurge on a lavish engagement party both in Kazakhstan and later in Putrajaya for Daniyar and his daughter. Till now, Najib has not given any satisfactory answer to the accusations he used public funds to entertain his private guests.
Daniyar, who is said to have met Najib's daughter in Columbia, graduated in 2010. He has been accused of faking his qualifications in order to get into the Ivy League institution. The latest reports are that he is now in UK's Sandringham, raising further speculation as to who could have recommended him for the military attachment - his ex-stepfather Bolat or soon-to-be father-in-law Najib?