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Malaysia

Malaysia’s Najib seeks police protection, visits hometown, claims he’s a scapegoat

Former leader also accused police of eating chocolates from a fridge during a raid on one of his homes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 10:21pm

Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak fears for his safety and has asked for police protection, his spokesman said on Sunday, a day after the ex-leader complained about the conduct of police searching properties for evidence of corruption.

Having ruled Malaysia for nearly 10 years, Najib – and his wife, Rosmah Mansor – have been barred from leaving the country after his coalition’s defeat in an election on May 9.

The new government led by his mentor-turned-foe, Mahathir Mohamad, wants answers to how billions of dollars disappeared from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state fund founded by Najib.

He has consistently denied all allegations of wrongdoing, but his image has not been helped by his wife’s reputation for lavish spending.

On Sunday, the couple left Kuala Lumpur to spend time in Najib’s home state of Pahang, having suffered the ignominy of police searching their home and other properties in the capital over the past few days.

“I did not steal the people’s money,” Najib asserted during the visit to his rural constituency. “I was prepared to hand over power gracefully. But once I did that, I was not treated properly.”

Speaking at a ceremony to open a local office of his Umno party, Najib urged his supporters to “fight on”.

“The people of Pekan know me. I am not a thief. I am not a rogue,” he said. “To topple the party, they had to target the president. They would do anything as long as my brand was destroyed ... There were a lot of allegations made ... I was the target because I was the prime minister and party president.”

Before retreating to his family constituency, Najib asked for police protection, though police have been stationed outside his house for the past week and he travels everywhere with a police escort.

“Najib has lodged a police report asking for protection for himself and his family as they fear for their safety after the 14th General Election,” a spokesman told Bernama news agency.

The Malay Mail newspaper reported that Najib had sought witness protection from the police due to “clear threats made”.

Malaysians take aim at Rosmah Mansor, Najib Razak’s reviled wife

Neither Bernama nor the newspaper gave an indication of the source of any threat.

For the past two days, Malaysians have been avidly viewing footage of officers removing bags and boxes aired on news channels and uploaded to social media platforms.

The police have seized at least 284 boxes of designer handbags and dozens of bags filled with cash and jewellery in the raids.

[The] irresponsible manner in which the raid was conducted ... is reflected by the manner in which the police personnel helped themselves to food and chocolates
Harpal Singh Grewal

Malaysia’s anti-graft agency wants to see the Najib back in the capital at its headquarters on Tuesday to give a statement specifically on the transfer of US$10.6 million from a former unit of 1MDB to an account belonging to him.

1MDB is also the focus of the biggest anti-kleptocracy probe launched by the Department of Justice in the United States.

Peeved by their public humiliation, Najib and his wife had their lawyers issue statements on Saturday complaining about the conduct of the police.

Rosmah’s lawyer said it risked creating a “premature public trial”, while allegations from Najib’s lawyer prompted an internal police probe into who ate the family’s chocolate.

How did Malaysia’s former first lady afford a lavish lifestyle?

“The cavalier and irresponsible manner in which the raid was conducted, and the seizure made is reflected by the manner in which the police personnel helped themselves to food and chocolates in the refrigerator and further demanded that the meals be prepared for them,” said Najib’s lawyer, Harpal Singh Grewal.

In response Amar Singh, director of the police’s commercial crime investigation department, promised “stern action … if the allegations are found to be true”.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, Associated Press