Sydney: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been mired in a controversy involving a murder, bribery, blackmail, betrayal and political cover-up, setting back his chances of winning the upcoming elections.
Najib has been accused of being involved in the murder of a 28-year-old Mongolian fashion model, Altantuya Shaariibuu, who worked as a translator in a 2 billion-dollar deal negotiation for the purchase of two French-Spanish built Scorpene submarines in 2002, while Najib was defence minister, reports The Age.
The internet in Malaysia is running hot with allegations by a disaffected businessman, Deepak Jaikishan, who is well connected in the ruling United Malays National Organisation.
Deepak, a carpet dealer, has claimed that Najib had had a sexual relationship with Shaariibuu. Najib has repeatedly denied any relationship with Shaariibuu, calling it a "terrible lie".
Another person involved in the controversy is a Ferrari-driving businessman, Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Najib's best friends and policy advisers, who was the director of the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre.
Two French investigating magistrates are looking into so-called "commission" payments of about 160 million dollars into companies reportedly set up by Baginda.
Shaariibuu, who had become Baginda's lover after they met in Hong Kong, admitted in a letter found after her murder that she had been blackmailing Baginda, who had jilted her after they had travelled through Asia and Europe together. She had reportedly wanted a 500,000-dollar cut to remain silent about her knowledge of the deal.
Najib, who is preparing to contest his first election since being installed in power by his party in 2009, has denied ever meeting Shaariibuu or having any link with her. The government has also denied any wrongdoing in the submarine purchases.
But according to a court testimony, it was two of Najib's bodyguards who shot a pregnant Shaariibuu dead on October 19, 2006. She had begged for her life and apparently that of her unborn child. The killers also ensured that the foetus was destroyed along with the identity of the father. They also erased her entry into Malaysia from immigration records. According to analysts, the upcoming election will be the strongest ever challenge to UMNO's rule.