Why Malaysia must come clean (cont’d)

Unfortunately, Malaysia has decided to take a defiant route to tackling the WMD allegations leveled against some of its companies. Why is the issue not considered serious enough to take Mr Tahir in for questioning? Malaysian law has enough provisions and precedents to even arrest individuals before enough evidence is collected. Malaysia is making a mistake here., and unnecessarily allowing its role to be perceived as more sinister than it probably was.

“There is no such thing as Malaysia’s involvement,” said Mr Abdullah. “We are not involved in any way. I don’t know where Bush is getting his evidence from.”

The case has caused political embarrassment for the new Malaysian leader since the company named as supplying centrifuge parts to the nuclear trafficking network is owned by his son.

The issue threatens to overshadow relations with the US in spite of their close co-operation in fighting terrorism. Kuala Lumpur was chosen last year as the site for a US-sponsored regional anti-terrorism centre.

The state-controlled New Straits Times newspaper yesterday accused Mr Bush of “double standards and hypocrisy” and compared his campaign against nuclear proliferation to “the sham of his weapons of mass destruction theory behind the invasion of Iraq”, which Malaysia opposed.

Mr Abdullah said Malaysia was not prepared yet to arrest B.S.A. Tahir, the Sri Lankan businessman now in Malaysia, who Mr Bush described as the “chief financial officer and money launderer” for the smuggling network created by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s leading nuclear scientist, which sold nuclear equipment to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Mr Tahir, married to the daughter of a former Malaysian diplomat, allegedly arranged the order for the centrifuge parts made by the Scomi Group, which is controlled by Mr Abdullah’s son. [Financial Times]

See Jeff Ooi’s coverage of Malaysia’s response.