Director of Military Intelligence Lt Gen Dato’ Mohd Salleh Ismail
By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 -Malaysia’s top military intelligence officer, Lt Gen Dato’ Mohd Salleh Ismail, made a rare appearance at a press conference before he proceeded to dismiss the existence of any intelligence report originating from his agency with regards to the Altantuya murder or threats to Anwar’s safety.
In light of the past week’s escalating allegations and counter-allegations between the Datuk Seris Najib Razak and Anwar Ibrahim, seen as the two PMs-in-waiting, the public presence of the military intelligence chief is surely a sign that things are reaching some kind of breaking point.
Salleh went so far as to claim that the military had no intelligence with regards to these matters even though they involved not just top political figures in our country but the government’s top executives as these were “criminal cases. The military looks at things related to security, e.g., militants and terrorists. Like you (the press), we are simply monitoring events.”
“There are people who want to see this country in disarray by confusing the facts. People are getting bored by these allegations and counter-allegations,” Salleh said to explain his coming out to set the record straight.
He described the act of parties that have cited the existence of military intelligence to back their claims as “immoral”, that these acts would “lead to the detriment of the country’s economy”.
He was referring to the chain of events beginning with controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s statutory declaration that Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi had received a military intelligence report concerning the Altantuya murder and then passed it on to his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin.
This was followed by Anwar seeking safe haven in the Turkish Embassy after an aide accused him of sodomy. It was reported that Anwar claimed he had sources from within the government and military intelligence both local and foreign advising him that certain agents from within BN leadership had initiated plots to cause harm to him, his family and/or his supporters.
“We, as an intelligence organization, did not get such reports. We’re sure that if there are any they would go through the normal intelligence community to confirm this. It is also amazing that after the threat, Anwar stood in front of 10,000 people and came out without a scratch. That’s quite unbelievable given the info he claimed was given to him – I think the info is not credible and I don’t think any intelligence organisation will admit to giving it to him rather than the proper authorities — especially the police,” he added.
The press conference clearly sought to undermine the claims of those seeking to discredit the PM and his deputy, laying the burden of proof and evidence on them. The general further allayed fears of use of force and the possibility of a state of emergency being declared that was sparked after Wednesday’s announcement of joint police-army exercises in the Klang Valley.
“It has been long-planned and not just because of the current situation. The police and military have not had a joint exercise for a long time. Because there are new procedures and laws regarding public order, we need to get together and see how we are to execute them. The old laws are from the 50s and now there are new procedures to handle demonstrators and public order. This is nothing to do with being worried about the current situation.”
He laughed off suggestions that it was in anticipation of this Sunday’s Pakatan Rakyat-backed anti-fuel hike demonstration which is aiming to see a million protestors turn up. But in explaining that it was police responsibility to handle demonstrations, Salleh seemed to be hitting home the message that the military want none of this and refuse to be implicated or involved in any of the intrigue surrounding current local politics.