What is blackmail? Does it only involve money? Shazryl Eskay said on Wednesday the release of the now-infamous “sex video” is not an attempt at blackmail because his Unholy Trio did not ask for money.
Of course he would say that. Besides, the crime of extortion (the term for blackmail used in Malaysia’s Penal Code) carries a jail sentence of up to 10 years. The crime of anonymous criminal intimidation, another possible offence, carries a jail sentence of up to two years plus two years.
To admit it’s blackmail would put him at risk of 10 years’ jail, besides derailing his attempt at claiming the moral high ground of purity, that he’s Doing It For The Truth. Truth? Pah.
Whether Eskay & Co are guilty of the crime of extortion (blackmail) is another matter. But in the public eye, the Unholy Trio have certainly carried out an act of blackmail. They also carried out a dog-and-pony-show, but that’s also another topic.
The Unholy Trio called in the media to view the “sex video”, pointed to the man in the video and said it was a leading political figure. Then the Unholy Trio demanded that the political figure and his wife give up political office, or the video would be made public.
Give up politics or else we release the video. That’s blackmail, plain and simple.
The dictionary says this:
to exact or attempt to exact (money or anything of value) from (a person) by threats or intimidation; extort
to attempt to influence the actions of (a person), esp by unfair pressure or threats
Malaysia’s Penal Code says extortion involves “any property or valuable security, or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security”. It does not say that only money must change hands.
Eskay also denied that the revelation of the video was a blackmail attempt. “No, it’s not blackmail. I did not ask for money. I will go straight to Anwar Ibrahim if I were to blackmail him and I would not be going to the press,” he said. [» The Star]
Shazryl Eskay is talking lawyer talk, because the crime of extortion in Malaysia depends on an exchange of property or something valuable that can be turned into money.
The Unholy Trio want to force Anwar Ibrahim and Wan Azizah out of office — and thereby extinguish the threat of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition — by using the threat of public exposure of a video whose veracity and provenance has not been established.
That’s blackmail, even if no money exchanges hands.
There is no difference between collecting money now, or collecting money later through new business opportunities, through new government contracts, or through government decisions going in your favour.
For example, Shazryl Eskay is in the midst of a legal suit involving RM20 million arising from the contract to build the proposed “crooked bridge” to Singapore. Mahathir Mohamad is the biggest champion of the “crooked bridge”, who insists that the bridge must be built whether Singapore agrees or not. Shazryl Eskay has stated that the Johore royal family has an interest in the bridge contract. The other member of the Unholy Trio, Rahim Thamby Chik, is held to be a devout follower of Mahathir Mohamad. The go-to man in the Mahathir government for business and government projects was Daim Zainuddin, the “silent” partner with a finger in almost anything those days.
Money and power — these are the ingredients that fuel the Umno-BN political and business machine.
Sex was added to the mixture after Rahim Thamby Chik was accused of having sex with an under-age schoolgirl — for which Lim Guan Eng paid the price of a jail term for statements made when defending the girl and championing her cause on behalf of her grandparents.
And sex firmly became another part of Umno-Barisan Nasional politics when Mahathir Mohamad sacked Anwar Ibrahim and subsequently charged him with sex offences — long viewed as trumped-up charges and a political fix-up.
Blackmail to obtain a political objective, and therefore profit from it, is just another tool in the Umno-BN toolkit.
Shazryl Eskay & Co used that tool this week. They also used the Umno-BN’s other tool, the Malaysia media, just as they did when Anwar Ibrahim was first charged.
The Malaysia media became part of the blackmail process with the advance release in the newspapers of affidavits from the Attorney-General’s Chambers for Anwar Ibrahim’s first trial. This time it’s the advance release, through the media, of a video whose authenticity and provenance have yet to be established.
Even a fool knows that Anwar Ibrahim’s head is worth several fortunes. Whoever can deliver his head on a platter to the Pharaoh can demand a king’s ransom.
Collect now, or collect later — it’s still blackmail.
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