Friday, September 28, 2007

Malaysia's Official Modus Operandi-- Corruption and Murder

Next year, Malaysia will host a spectacular murder trial. The spectacle is all but ignored by the international media, and is covered only with great reluctance by Malaysia's officially-backed media. The elements of this case comes straight from the plot of a Hollywood thriller-- greed, blackmail, a official cover-up, savage violence, and intractable corruption at the highest levels of the Malaysian government.

The following article from Strategy Page discusses well the details and ramifications of this tragic and unsavory incident:

The (upcoming) murder trial in Malaysia of the well-connected political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda has inadvertently revealed the extent of corruption in the purchase of weapons for the Malaysian military. The murder victim, a Mongolian woman named Altantuya Shaaribuu working as a translator for the Malaysian government, became the lover of a close friend of Malaysia's corrupt Defense Minister (who is also Malaysia's deputy Prime Minister and the equivalent of America's vice president).

The Mongolian lady got greedy, and tried to blackmail her boyfriend for half a million dollars. If Baginda didn't pay, she would go public with details of $300 million in payoffs by Russian, French and Malaysian arms suppliers. The blackmail attempt backfired, and the Mongolian woman was shot dead, and her body blown to bits with explosives in October 2006. The use of explosives only the military had access to (C4 explosives) led to an investigation which led to this trial.

What's not surprising is that there is corruption in the procurement of military equipment. This is a tradition that goes back thousands of years (and that's just the written record). But in many parts of the world, like Southeast Asia, it amounts to 10-20 percent of the cost of the weapons, equipment or supplies. This is particularly the case if the weapons are brought from abroad. If there are competing suppliers, everyone knows that, whoever offers the highest bribe, gets the sale.

The governments involved (especially Malaysia's) do not like this sort of thing to be made public. For then they have to at least go through the motions of eliminating the corrupt practices. All this means is that some bribes may be lost (not paid) or delayed. But it's annoying if your accustomed to plundering in peace.

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