WikiLeaks unveils another Malaysian scandal
Prominent UMNO stalwart allegedly raped his housemaid in 2007 but wasn’t investigated, reports Asia Sentinel
The latest round of WikiLeaks cables to embarrass Malaysia alleges that a “VVIP” later identified as Rais Yatim, the Information, Communications, and Culture Minister, raped his Indonesian maid in 2007, but got away with it because then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi apparently didn’t want an embarrassing confrontation with the Indonesian government.
The 68-year-old Rais at the time was law minister in Badawi’s cabinet. He has been a stalwart in United Malays National Party politics since at least 1978. Although the rape charges were passed to Badawi’s office in 2007 and were well known to top government officials, it appears they were never investigated. Certainly, the charges didn’t stop Badawi from naming him foreign affairs minister in 2008, nor did they stop Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak from naming him information minister in 2009.
However, on July 27of 2007, Rais did abruptly pull out of the running to become Commonwealth Secretary-General after the end of the previous secretary’s reign in March 2008. He cited the conflict of his duties serving on the committee planning the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s freedom from British colonialism. The complaint making the rounds appears to have been filed on July 23.
The lack of investigation of the case also prevents Rais from protesting his innocence. At this stage, lack of evidence would probably make the case almost impossible to prosecute, since it would end up with just the maid’s word against Rais’s.
Malaysia’s blogosphere has caught fire over the allegations although Rais wasn’t named as the alleged rapist until this weekend. A three-page Indonesian police report giving details of the maid’s service in his home – with his name blanked out – has been making the rounds of the Internet since the middle of December.
However, despite widespread and growing demands in the blogosphere that the allegations against Rais be investigated and prosecuted, the odds are that nothing is going to happen, said a lawyer with close ties to UMNO. It raises too many questions – few people, with the probable exception of the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, want to go after Badawi for refusing to allow the investigation of Rais. Najib probably doesn’t want fire him, the lawyer said, because that brings up unpleasant reminders that the other WikiLeaks documents quote Singaporean officials appearing to implicate Najib in the widely publicized 2006 murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu. Other documents made public by WikiLeaks allege that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was probably entrapped into having sex with his then 23-year-old former male assistant, but did it anyway.