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The ghost of Altantuya forever. Prime Minister Najib Razak must take the lead in ensuring the truth comes out

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by  Christopher Fernandez

Abdul Razak Baginda, a controversial figure in the death of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaaribu, was the chairman of the Kendo Club at St John’s Institution in 1978, while the vice-chairman was none other than me.

Baginda was a most affable chap back in school those days. He was pleasant, courteous and gregarious. He had many friends as he was a likeable person. There were none in school who could be said to be enemies with him.

Upon leaving St John’s, we parted ways and he never crossed my mind, until a chance encounter at the MPH Bangsar in Jalan Telawi brought us back into contact. By then he was a familiar personality among Malaysians as a television talk show host.

During that brief encounter, he invited me to be a contributing editor with a publication he was about to start from scratch. The name of the publication was Asian Editor. This was mid-1997 and Baginda had a business office at Wisma Getah Asli in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur which was frequented by me in the process of writing stories for them.

When the official launch of the magazine was held at a leading hotel in the city, it was none other than Najib Tun Razak, who was to officiate at the launching ceremony. Unfortunately, and for certain reasons, Najib did not show up. This was really the old boy network of St.John’s at work as Najib himself is an old boy of St. John’s, but much senior to both of us, Baginda himself being two years my senior.

But the show went on with Baginda apologizing about the non-appearance of Najib and the maiden issue of Asian Editor was unveiled with Baginda hailing the “editorial prowess” of the team. It was a magazine meant to be circulated and distributed around the Asian region.

Unfortunately, while being a commendable effort, the magazine folded suddenly after a year-and-a half of publishing. No reasons given, but all the staff working on the magazine were paid their dues before parting ways with Baginda.

While on the job at Asian Editor, there was hardly anything amiss at the office. Baginda was as he always was, almost as if we were in school. He was his usual cheerful, confident self, though most of us felt he had very little business acumen especially with regards to publishing. It also looked as if he had very little real interest in the publication, leaving day-to-day operations to us.

Imagine the way and manner in which we were shocked out of our wits to discover that a political analyst was to be charged with the murder of a Mongolian national and that it was none other than Abdul Razak Baginda.

What was their motive

In the initial furor surrounding his arrest and subsequent remand for a period of twenty-two months, we were all hopeful that this was some big foul up and that Baginda will be spared the gallows.

But the curious twists and turns during the trial left many of us who were following the proceedings very much puzzled and bewildered, and when eventually two policemen were charged with the murder of Altantuya all of us were relieved on one hand for Baginda, yet had more unanswered questions on our minds.

Perhaps the most glaring and evident question was put forward by Mr Karpal Singh, counsel for Sharibuu Setev, who was holding a watching brief on behalf of the family: “What was their motive?”

This is precisely the question which is uppermost in most people’s minds? Why would two policemen who did not know Altantuya from Adam’s to apples, why would they want to go to the extent to gag and bind her and blow her up with explosives? Why on earth?

These were two men who were certainly not deranged and thereafter the whole mystery of the death of Altantuya began to shroud the nation of Malaysia with more and more questions and twists and turns.

It went into a never ending saga with witnesses appearing and disappearing and testimonies given turned into an almost opposite version and even a statutory declaration rescinded.

No closure until the truth comes out

Since the news broke of the brutal murder of Altantuya, Malaysians have been gripped by the wide ranging implications that have been created by this young Mongolian woman upon the hearts and minds of Malaysians.

While Altantuya was never much a part of the local scene, the others who are implicated and linked to her murder and the corruption scandal surrounding the Scorpene submarine procurement by the Malaysian government are noted persons in the country which have started to give Malaysians goose bumps and maybe sleepless nights.

The death of Altantuya is beginning to start to get eerie and spooky for most Malaysians. It’s as if it is set to haunt us, that this nation has been befallen a curse by her untimely and mysterious death.

It is not only an issue that troubles the minds and hearts of Malaysians but is beginning to rise up to the forefront of the international community.

The answers are there and it should be that the relevant authorities from the various countries involved, Malaysia, France, Mongolia and even Interpol work together to bring closure once and for all for everyone’s minds and hearts to be put at ease.

It is definitely a time for closure and also a time to bury the ghost of Altantuya and for Malaysians to move on with their lives. Only a once and for all settlement that appeases all parties with a vested interest in her death will bury the ghost of Altantuya forever. Prime Minister Najib Razak must take the lead in ensuring the truth comes out. -Malaysia Chronicle