KUALA LUMPUR: Those involved in the Scorpene case should come forward with the true facts to counter Suaram’s allegations rather than persecute the human rights group for its role in the probe, said its chairperson K Arumugam.

“We are prepared to be scrutinised and investigated by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) and we are willing to cooperate,” he told reporters at the launch of the “Stand up for Suaram” campaign.

“But we warn those responsible for the Scorpene scandal to open up their books and reveal the true facts. They should willingly come forward to answer the allegations made by Suaram,” he added.

He was referring to the French inquiry probing Malaysia’s multibillion ringgit purchase of two Scorpene submarines, which had been linked to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and the murder of Mongolian national Altantuyaa Shaariibuu.

Suaram had initiated the inquiry through a complaint sent to the French court to investigate suspected corruption in the Scorpene deal.

The human rights organisation was now being investigated under five sections of the Companies Act 1965, and could face charges in court for its “misleading accounts”.

Several government agencies, including the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and Bank Negara, would also take action against it within their own jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, Suaram had been under the media spotlight for its foreign source of funds, particularly its alleged links to currency speculator George Soros.

But despite the various probes against Suaram, the group said it would not give up its operations and would continue to protect and defend human rights.

“Whatever scare tactics they use, we will not be frightened. Suaram cannot be made quiet. We fight for justice,” said Arumugam.

Why investigate Suaram now?’

The timing of Suaram’s “persecution” and the ongoing Scorpene probe in France did not go unnoticed by various NGOs that attended the launch today in support of Suaram.

The campaign, aimed at mobilising support for Suaram in the face of “unjust persecution launched against them by the government” was supported by 138 national NGOs and 56 regional groups.

The launch was ironically held at the lobby of CCM’s headquarters here, with the NGO representatives speaking before a large screen depicting newspaper articles questioning the source of Suaram’s funds.

“While we are open for investigations, we need to question the timing, drama and process of the scrutiny,” said Ivy Josiah, executive director of Women’s Aid Organisation.

“Why now? Don’t government agencies have anything else to do? They must have so much time to be able to investigate Suaram. Are they doing this to other groups?” said Jerald Joseph of Pusat Komas, a communication centre for human rights.

“Many are asking whether these investigations are related to the hard issues Suaram is digging up,” he said, adding that it was a step in the wrong direction as the “victimisation” would frighten other people from creating companies.

“Suaram has existed for so long, so why now? We’re not even sure what their basis is for conducting these investigations,” said Fadiah Nadwa Fikri from Lawyers for Liberty.

“The government is going against their own duties by persecuting human right defenders. When they attack Suaram, they attack human rights. And if you continue to attack Suaram, we will continue to stand up for Suaram,” she added.

Anisah Shukry September 18, 2012, Free Malaysia Today