Mahathir bars scandal-hit Najib from leaving Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad barred his predecessor, Najib Razak, from going overseas on Saturday, saying there was enough evidence to investigate his links to a multi-billion-dollar scandal.Immigration authorities issued a travel ban on Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor just minutes after the ousted PM said they were leaving on a weeklong trip overseas to rest after his thumping electoral defeat. “It is true that I prevented Najib from leaving the country,” Mahathir said at a news conference, adding that doing so had averted extradition problems later. “There is sufficient evidence that an investigation into certain things … done by the former PM has to be done and, if necessary, the rule of law will apply,” he said. After the ban on his travel was announced, Najib said in a Twitter message that he would respect the decision and would remain in the country.Mahathir has been the PM of the Muslim Malay-majority nation earlier, for 22 years, governing in a tough, pugnacious style. He said the attorney general, who had cleared Najib of wrongdoing in the graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), had been sacked. The Attorney General, Apandi Ali, declined to comment.As Najib came under increased pressure, the world seemed to be opening up for Anwar, who, from jail and a hospital bed, combined with Mahathir to hand out the defeat to the administration alliance. Mahathir has said the king has indicated to him that a royal pardon for his jailed ally Anwar Ibrahim would be announced soon. Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah said her father was likely to be freed on Tuesday.Late on Saturday, Mahathir met Anwar in his hospital room, where he is recovering from a shoulder operation. There was no word on what was discussed in the first meeting between the two since their alliance won the election. Questions about his whereabouts were answered when he appeared at a meeting of his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to announce that he was stepping down as the party’s president and as chairman of the Barisan Nasional (BN), the alliance dominated by UMNO that has ruled Malaysia for six decades.Earlier, people gathered at an airport near Kuala Lumpur from where Najib and his wife were reported to be leaving for Jakarta, and tried to look into cars entering the complex. — Reuters
The scam that cost him dear
- Ousted leader Najib had faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement over the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). 1MDB, set up by Najib in 2009, was meant to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments.
- But it started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the $11bn it owed to banks and bondholders. Then the Wall Street Journal reported it had seen a paper trail that allegedly traced close to $700m from the fund to Najib’s personal bank accounts. Najib has denied taking money from 1MDB.
Ethnic Chinese appointed FM
- New Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday appointed an ethnic Chinese Finance Minister, the first ethnic minority member to hold the powerful post in 44 years. In addition to naming Lim Guan Eng, a man Mahathir threw into prison twice, as Finance Minister, the PM also named ex-Deputy PM Muhyiddin Yassin as Home minister and Mohamad Sabu as Defence Minister.
- Zeti Akhthar Aziz, who was internationally lauded during a 16-year stint as central bank governor, and billionaire tycoon Robert Kuok were among those named to a special team that will advise the government on economic and financial matters for 100 days.