COMMENT The web of entanglement spun by disclosures over the past week by businessman Deepak Jaikishan threatens to suck a senior lawyer and his son, also a lawyer, into its vortex.

Though the disclosures are just as menacing to the career of Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, he inhabits a deep no-affect belt on which the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the attorney-general are loath to encroach.

NONETheir inhibitions vis-à-vis the PM afford him a kind of immunity which he can enjoy while it lasts.

As for the senior lawyer, a report lodged with the Bar Council imputing grave professional misconduct on his part means that the wheels of inquiry can start turning.
A probable consequence could leave the lawyer in peril of being disbarred unless of course the Bar Council does not view the disclosures made by Deepak as reason to justify issuing a ‘show cause' letter to the lawyer.

Today Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee will issue a statement on the matter. The statement will be received with considerable expectation in some quarters and comparable trepidation in others.

It cannot be otherwise for it concerns a matter that ramifies from a murder, a murder not "most foul" as Duncan's killing is described in ‘Macbeth', Shakespeare's drama of resonant relevance, but a murder most curious in why it occurred and hideous in how the body was blown up so that its traces would not be found.

Six years after it occurred in 2006, the murder of the Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, continues to reverberate in the national consciousness for the opportunity it provides to explore the socio-political setting and individual psychology that gave rise to the crime.

A tale of two women

Sex, crime, politics and the vagaries of Malaysian criminal justice were all at work in this saga of a young foreign woman with links to people in high places who vanished from the streets of Kuala Lumpur in a riddle of murder that keeps veering away from conclusive unraveling though two police officers have been found guilty of her murder.

NONEFurther, the case's appeal as real life drama lies not only in its seeming connection to the billion ringgit sale of two French submarines to Malaysia when the present PM was defence minister with Altantuya playing a tantalising role in the transaction, but also in the possibility of an intriguing part assayed by Rosmah Mansor, the most controversial occupant of the hitherto non-descript role of PM's wife.

This murder saga would then have two women in its frame. One is Altantuya herself. Attractive and dimunitive, she would have embodied the Oriental archetype of feminine acquiescence and mystique.

She must have got involved in the drama that eventuated in her murder from a yen for adventure and a desire to make fast money - money that she would have needed when a child she bore was born with disabilities.

NONEAs for Rosmah, one has to reach for her correlates in the literary realm to fathom her: she has defied the usual classification of prime ministerial spouse as demure fixture two steps adrift of hubby at public functions, someone often seen and rarely heard.

The announcement last week that a biography of her is in the offing in which she would explain away queries that have dogged her, is outlandish.
She owes her renown to the fact that she is Mrs Najib but that she has now become known as the woman to whom the PM is married has less to do with fame than with its opposite.

That a sitting PM's wife is about to have a biography published about her in which she will attempt to dispel the shrouds that have accumulated in her slipstream raises more questions than the work could conceivably answer.

The rot in legal profession

It seems the Altantuya saga includes no heroes, only victims and villains.

The hypnotic lure the case has exerted lies in the opportunity it provides for an exploration of the institutional weakness and peculiarities of Malaysia in the Dr Mahathir Mohamad era.

Just the other day, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, given these days to airing disquisitions on Malaysian society, lamented the moral decay in the professions that has led to the emasculation of the institutional life of the country.
Perhaps the profession that has suffered the most rot is the legal profession and its extension - the criminal justice system.

The Altantuya murder is an indictment of this rot. The rot is scintillant in that, pace the disclosures of Deepak, luminaries of the legal profession, high honorific distinctions in hand, may be caught up in its lurid coils.

Today, we will know if the guardians of the legal profession's propriety will choose to either expose the extent of the debility the profession has sustained or will attempt the formidable task of exorcising it.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for close on four decades. He likes the occupation because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them. It is the ideal occupation for a temperament that finds power fascinating and its exercise abhorrent.