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Monday, September 30, 2013

CLUMSY MOVES: Is Najib trying to influence who becomes the next Indonesian president?

CLUMSY MOVES: Is Najib trying to influence who becomes the next Indonesian president?
KUALA LUMPUR - The usually sedate Kota Bharu High Court was transformed into a rare hive of activity by the presence of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto as well as 'big-time' Umno lawyer Shafee Abdullah.
The VVIPs were in town for a murder hearing involving an alleged underage maid Wifrida Soik.
The presence of so many political 'big guns' has prompted concerns that the small-town courthouse might be intimidated, and justice might be undelivered to a 60-year Malaysian citizen who had been murdered.
It has also sparked speculation of a political conspiracy of the 'I help you, you help me' sort between Prabowo and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
"Prabowo's argument is for leniency because Wilfrida was allegedly a victim of human trafficking and she is only 17 even though her documents say she is 23. But human trafficking or not, a life was taken. Who took it? So we hope Prime Minister Najib Razak and Umno will not rush to grab political mileage and make it seem they are so cozy with the Indonesian leaders that the murder of a Malaysian citizen is brushed aside," a human rights lawyer following the case told Malaysia Chronicle.
"These days, given the extent of Malay racism in the Malaysia, Umno leaders can do anything. They can forgive murder or even commit murder - this is the view of a great many Malaysians and it is not at all a pleasant picture for the outside world that there is no functioning, free and fair justice system in this country. Only politics rule and very sick politics at that."
Who will 'save' the murdered Malaysian victim?
Wilfrida had been been detained for allegedly killing her employer Yeap Seok Peng in Kampung Chabang Empat, Tok Uban, Pasir Mas. According to news reports, Wilfrida hails from East Nusa Tenggara, and has been working since she was 12. She is said to be a victim of human trafficking.
Prabowo, who is due to stand for next year's Indonesian presidential election, caught the eye of curious onlookers at the Kota Bharu High Court this morning, while the Indonesian media who had followed him to Malaysia could be seen scrambling to get his views.
The Indonesian presidential poll, due to be held on July 9, 2014, will elect a president for a five-year term. Incumbent president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term in office.
Prabowo, from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), has said he wants to 'save Wilfrida and is even contemplating a direct appeal to Najib, with whom he says he is close to. Prabowo was accompanied by Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Herman Prayatino.
Clumsy moves: Najib helping Prabowo for future political favors?
Yet Prabowo's critics have questioned his sincerity and whether he was 'saving' Wilfirda or was 'using' Wilfrida to gain popularity at home. There is also some discomfort on the Indonesian side that Malaysian leaders were going out of their way to help him; what and when will be the payback time?
"Put it this way. If the Wilfrida case helps Prabowo to win the presidential election, then he would be very grateful to Najib. This is akin to interfering with Indonesia's domestic politics and we hope Najib will not succumb to such clumsy manipulations as though no one can put two and two together. It is actually a most dangerous game and Najib would do well to remember that international diplomacy is not like the slam-bang Umno elections where everything including the dog and the kitchen sink goes," a political observer told Malaysia Chronicle.
Indonesian news portal  Tribunnews.com had reported that Prabowo studied in Kuala Lumpur when his father, Sumitro Djoyohadikusumo, was based in Malaysia. It said he has a good relationship with Najib as their fathers were close friends.
Even the lawyer whom Prabowo has hired to defend Wilfida is linked to Umno, which is Najib's political party. Shafee Abdullah, who is known for his seven-figure legal fees, handles most of the big cases involving the top Umno leadership.
Najib has been accused of hand-picking Shafee - a private lawyer - to act as the government's chief prosecutor in its appeal against a court decision to acquit Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim of manifestly fabricated sodomy charges.
Unnerved by the Umno and Indonesian bigwigs?
Meanwhile, the concerns that the Kota Bharu High Court might be affected by the presence of the 'double-barreled personalities' appear to have some basis.
The court decided postponed to Nov 17 its decision on whether to call for Wilfrida's defence for murdering her employer in Pasir Mas in 2010.
Judge Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim also agreed to the requests made by the defence lawyer to have the accused undergo a bone test to determine her actual age and psychiatric evaluation. He also allowed Shafee Abdullah's request for notes of the court proceedings.
It was reported that in 2010, Wilfrida was approached by some men who managed to get her a job in Malaysia through the Indonesian Ministry of Labour's agency in Belu. To help her enter Malaysia, they falsified her papers, passing her off as an adult.
Once in Malaysia, Wilfrida was employed as a maid in the house of an elderly lady in Johor. The old lady, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, was found dead on December 7, 2010. Wilfrida was arrested less than two weeks later.
Malaysia Chronicle

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