Malaysia’s Anwar says Najib likely headed to jail

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, right, shakes hands with former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim following his release from custody at National Palace in Kuala Lumpur. (Department of Information via AFP)
Updated 17 May 2018

Malaysia’s Anwar says Najib likely headed to jail

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly released Malaysian political heavyweight Anwar Ibrahim said Thursday he expects ex-premier Najib Razak to be jailed over multi-billion-dollar graft claims.
In an interview with AFP a day after he walked free from custody — where he had languished since 2015 on what supporters say were trumped-up charges levelled at Najib’s behest — Anwar also said he would be back in parliament very soon.
“Give me a few months, I should be back as an MP. It is the correct thing to do,” he said.
Anwar’s release on Wednesday capped an astonishing week in Malaysian politics that saw Najib’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition booted from power in a revolution at the ballot box.
The election dramatically reversed Anwar’s fortunes, from prisoner to presumptive successor to 92-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
It also imperiled Najib, who Anwar said now faces an “arduous” legal battle — without the protection of high office.
Accused of overseeing the plundering of state fund 1MDB, Najib’s position has looked increasingly precarious. Police carried out extensive searches of his home overnight.
Anwar predicted that Najib would likely take up the spot he had just vacated in prison.
“He will certainly be charged,” he said.
Anwar declined to say how he thought Najib’s case would play out, as it depended on “how he can defend himself in court.”
But Anwar added: “It will be very difficult for him to escape (going to) prison.”
Mahathir, who came out of retirement to lead the revolt against Najib, has vowed to hand power to Anwar within two years.
The younger man’s return to politics has been the subject of much speculation and he confirmed he would be seeking to contest a by-election to return as an MP soon — but would not seek a position on the front benches just yet.
“I am not intending to join the cabinet,” he said he had told Mahathir.


Banned Thai opposition party accuses junta of helping in 1MDB cover-up

Updated 21 min 20 sec ago

Banned Thai opposition party accuses junta of helping in 1MDB cover-up

  • Future Forward Party, the third-largest party in parliament, was dissolved on Friday by Thailand’s Constitutional Court
  • ‘If we were in government, we would investigate’

BANGKOK: A banned Thai opposition party on Sunday accused the former military junta of helping cover up Malaysia’s multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal, urging Thais to demand the truth ahead of a censure debate against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The Future Forward Party, the third-largest party in parliament, was dissolved on Friday by Thailand’s Constitutional Court over a loan it took from its billionaire founder.
The dissolution was decried by democracy advocates as a way to weaken opposition to the government of Prayuth, who first came to power in a 2014 military coup and led a military junta until after elections last year that his pro-army party won.
Future Forward’s spokeswoman, Pannika Wanich, told reporters at a news conference on Sunday that the junta had worked with Malaysia’s former government to arrest a whistleblower in the 1MDB case in 2015 and had allowed financial criminals to operate in Thailand, risking the country’s international ties.
“The junta government yearned for international acceptance after the coup ... and formed a dark alliance with Malaysia,” Pannika said.
“The only person who can issue these orders is Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha,” Pannika said.
Pannika cited irregularities surrounding Thailand’s arrest and the subsequent confession of Xavier Justo, the Swiss national who was arrested in Thailand in 2015 the first whistleblower in the 1MDB affair.
The government also harbored Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, allowing him to enter the country at least five times between October 2016 and May 2018, despite Low having an Interpol red notice from Singapore, she said.
Low has been charged in Malaysia and the United States over the alleged theft of $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), set up by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak with the help of Low, to promote economic development.
At least six countries, including the United States, have launched money laundering, financial mismanagement and criminal probes into 1MDB dealings.
Low has denied any wrongdoing. His whereabouts are unknown.
Future Forward Party said it would have opened an investigation on corruption and money laundering related to the 1MDB case if it were in power.
“If we were in government, we would investigate. We want a government that is a responsible neighbor and acts with dignity,” Pannika said.
“Since we have been dissolved, we can’t, but the Thai public can demand the truth.”
A spokesman for the Malaysian prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.