Saturday, November 22, 2008

Razak Baginda: aftermath

From high-flier to pariah

Abdul Razak Baginda went from high-profile political analyst to social pariah as soon as news of his links with the murdered Mongolian model broke two Novembers ago.

Click to see larger image
RELIEVED: Mr Abdul Razak just wants to move on with his life. PICTURE: REUTERS

Just as the details of the murder, in which 28-year-old Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot and her body exploded into pieces, gripped Malaysians, his prestige was quickly replaced with revulsion.

The suave globe-trotting analyst was charged for allegedly abetting the murder of the Mongolian.

The trial was seen as a test of judicial and political integrity as Mr Abdul Razak, a close associate of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was also his political adviser.

Mr Abdul Razak,48, described the last 22 months as 'the most stressful, anxious and sad period' of his life.

In his first interview to the media since he was acquitted on 31 Oct of murdering her, Mr Abdul Razak, 48, spoke about how he was made to feel like an outcast.

Giving an example, he said: 'I spent two Hari Rayas in prison. Prior to my imprisonment, I would receive hundreds of Raya cards.

'For the last two years, I received a total of no more than 20.'

According to Malaysian Insider, his reputation had been dragged down the gutter. Where his name used to be quoted in political reports, it made sensational headlines for links with the model or his alleged lover.

When asked about this, he replied: 'I didn't realise I had a reputation before I entered prison.'

His sarcasm seems understandable.

He had put up with 'lies and baseless assumptions' about him made in the streets or online, he said, while he was in remand.

Reading from a prepared statement which was published in news portals online, he said: 'I must admit I was rather shocked to see the extent of how my case has been wildly exaggerated and how the ignorant have taken centre stage and managed to pull the wool over the eyes of so many people...people have become so gullible and they believe what they want to believe.'

Losing his cool

At one point during the trial this year, he lost his cool and shouted in court that he was innocent.

Yesterday, he told reporters that hanging on to this hope was among the few things that kept him going.

He said: 'At some point I knew, I will be released. Because I cannot imagine that an innocent man can be found guilty.

'...So to me I am innocent, and I will at some point hope...'

His wife Mazlinda Makhzan and only daughter Rowena were among other family members whom he said gave him the courage to survive in prison.

With a tinge of tenderness, he described their 'well over 100 visits to him' every Saturday throughout the months as 'the highlight of my week' and that he has been 'most fortunate' for having them.

He said: 'When you are down, you are all alone, but...I had my family.'

Another unlikely source of encouragement was his prison mates.

He said: 'They helped me to get through prison life, for among other things, they showed me much kindness. I would like to take this opportunity to wish them the very best of luck.'

But he is still sore over the bloggers, whom he said posted unverified information online.

He said: '(If) a blogger can become a source of truth, then we are in trouble.

'...I want to make a clarification in general. More often when you read bloggers, they do not base their writing on facts, it is a lot of hearsay, this person told this, that person told me this.

'Let's be more critical in what we read, do not accept things verbatim. I was surprised how easy it was to tell lies on the Internet, blogs.'


Even after his acquittal, he said he still expects his fair share of cynics but was pleasantly surprised at the reactions he has been getting from the public.

He said: 'A lot of people came up to me and wished me the best. Some actually said 'congratulations'. Some total strangers came up to me and said, 'We are happy you are out'.

'I initially thought I would be frowned upon. I thought I was going to be a leper. But there are people, when I walk around, some were whispering...and all that.'

After 151 days in prison, he admits he is struggling to adjust to outside of it.

The reason for cancelling his press conference earlier was that his mind was 'incoherent'.

He let on: 'I lost my glasses, I cannot find it now that my daughter has gone back to the UK - there's one less person to look for my things. '

He has been trying to get his appetite back and he has been eating and putting on 'a lot of weight'.

Though he was in the mood to answer a lot of things in this 50-minute press conference, he repeatedly said that DPM Najib had never met the murdered model.

When the inevitable question about how DPM Najib and Altantuya met was asked, he firmly said: 'I do not want to reveal where. All I wanted to say is that Najib never met the woman. From there, whoever said whatever are all lies.'

Then, his mood seemed to swing from serious to light-hearted when asked whether he would pen a biography about his experience.

He said: 'The problem is, if I say yes, you will be hounding me for it.'

His first plan, he said, is to finish his doctorate, which he applied for two weeks before his arrest, at Oxford University.

He added: ' I just want to get it.'

With that, he hopes to open 'the next chapter of his life' and close the other. From high-flier to pariah Electric New Paper, Singapore

21-11-20008: Najib and Rosmah never knew Altantuya, says Razak
The Edge Daily, Malaysia - 18 hours ago
by Sharon Tan KUALA LUMPUR: Abdul Razak Baginda met the press for the first time yesterday after his acquittal to forcefully make the point that neither ...

I am innocent
The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia - 10 hours ago
By Abdul Razak Baginda LET me say firstly, Alhamdullilah, all praise to Allah SWT, the most compassionate, most gracious and most merciful, that I am here ...

Razak Baginda: Najib never met Altantuya
The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia - 10 hours ago
By Shannon Teoh KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 รข€” Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda said today that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had never met ...