KUALA LUMPUR // Two of Malaysia’s main opposition parties on Sunday demanded an emergency sitting of parliament to discuss prime minister Najib Razak’s future as tensions mounted over a report that linked him to probes into alleged corruption involving state fund 1MDB.
A Wall Street Journal report published on Friday said investigators had traced nearly US$700 million (Dh2.57bn) to bank accounts they believed belonged to the prime minister.
Mr Najib has denied taking any money from the debt-laden state fund or any other entity for personal gain, and on Sunday said he had referred the “wild allegations” against him to lawyers.
He said he would decide any legal steps in a few days.
“If I wanted to steal, it wouldn’t make sense that I would place that money into accounts in Malaysia,” he said. “Surely as a prime minister I would not betray Malaysians and property that belongs to Malaysians. This is my promise.”
Pressure mounted on Mr Najib on Saturday after the country’s attorney-general said he had received documents from a task force investigating 1MDB that were “connected to allegations” that money was transferred into the prime minister’s account.
The documents sent to the attorney general pave the way for possible criminal charges
“With the attorney-general’s confirmation, the Journal allegation against Najib has assumed an even more serious character and import, sparking a political and government crisis of the first magnitude never seen in Malaysia’s 58-year history,” said Lim Kit Siang, the opposition Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) parliamentary leader.
“This is really uncharted territory in Malaysian politics. For the first time ever, we are seeing a prime minister facing the possibility of a criminal charge,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who heads the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs think-tank.
Members of Mr Najib’s party, the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), have closed ranks behind the prime minister, who had already been on a back foot over the mismanagement of 1MDB and his handling of the economy.
However, the DAP and opposition People’s Justice Party (PKR) sought to stoke the furore, urging the speaker of parliament’s lower house to call an emergency sitting on Tuesday.
DAP lawmaker Charles Santiago said he and 72 others had also lodged a police report.
“We have asked that the police investigate the WSJ’s assertion that billions were deposited in Najib’s personal account and take necessary actions,” he said.
1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Mr Najib, has debt of nearly $11.bn. Even before the report, the company was the subject of separate investigations by the central bank, auditor general, police and the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail said on Saturday that a task force made up of members of the anti-corruption commission, police and central bank had raided offices of three companies linked to the state investor.
* Reuters and Associated Press