Anwar, Najib Clash Over Murder Cover-Up Claim
The day of attacks and denials began just before noon when Datuk Seri Anwar produced a key witness in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu who alleged that the police omitted vital information he provided in the case.
This included a damning claim by him that Datuk Seri Najib knew the dead woman and had sex with her.
Later in the evening, Mr Najib lashed back, insisting that a statutory declaration filed by the witness was a 'terrible lie, a malicious fabrication' to damage him.
It was, he said, a 'desperate attempt' by Mr Anwar to divert attention away from a police investigation against the former deputy premier that he had sodomised his former personal assistant.
'I want to state in the strongest terms that I never met or knew this Mongolian woman,' Mr Najib said, adding that he has refrained from commenting on the allegations because the trial, now in recess, was ongoing.
The claims by Mr Balasubramaniam Perumal, who was present at Mr Anwar's press conference, were in the statutory declaration, or sworn statement, he had filed. In it, he alleged that vital information he gave interrogators was suppressed during the murder trial.
Abdul Razak Baginda, a former political adviser to the Deputy Premier, is being tried with two others over the murder of the Mongolian woman.
He had hired Mr Balasubramaniam, a private investigator, just around the time of the murder in October 2006. The PI was at first arrested for the murder but later released. He is a declared supporter of Hindraf, a group fighting for Indian rights whose leaders are behind bars.
His declaration also stated that Abdul Razak showed him a text message reply Mr Najib sent to him after the political adviser was arrested. Mr Najib allegedly messaged Abdul Razak: 'I am seeing the IGP (Inspector-General of Police) at 11am today...matter will be solved...be cool.'
Mr Anwar, whose opposition alliance made big gains in the March 8 general election, said yesterday that Mr Najib had feared that he would use the murder case to trigger his downfall.
Mr Anwar has claimed that his alliance will take over the government soon because of defections of elected lawmakers to the opposition.
But he faced a setback last week when police said they were investigating allegations that he had sodomised a male personal assistant, a claim he has dismissed as 'sheer fabrication' and an attempt by those linked to Mr Najib to short-circuit his takeover bid.
In recent weeks, Mr Najib, who is also Defence Minister, has been forced to fend off allegations that his wife and two others he knew were involved in the murder and were at the crime scene.
The face-off between the two politicians took another sensational turn when Mr Najib yesterday admitted that he had met Mr Anwar's accuser, Mr Saiful Bukhari Azlan, days before he lodged his police report.
'He had come to see me and he was traumatised. He said he needed help,' said Mr Najib, who insisted that he never directed Mr Saiful to do anything, including filing the police report.
Asked whether he believed Mr Saiful, he said: 'I wouldn't dare say...I thought he looked genuine... he was afraid. His hands were cold.'
The day ended with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi trying to quash widespread rumours about the government imposing emergency rule.
'The government is stable...Everything is under control,' he said. (The Straits Times, Singapore)
***** With Anwar and Najib heading for a politically bruising duel, things look good for Pak Lah as he gets some breathing space to consolidate power. Who said Malaysian politics was boring?