Electoral reform group Bersih yesterday showed the media a list of bank accounts of all those who had donated a total of RM2.6 million (S$842,000) for its mammoth rally in August, and challenged Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to now name those he said had donated US$700 million (S$997 million) into his bank accounts.
The group was responding to a challenge by Datuk Seri Najib, who had said Bersih was using double standards when it wanted him to name his political donors, yet was unwilling to detail who contributed money to it to organise the rally on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
At a news conference yesterday, Bersih officials showed reporters 2,126 pages of the group's bank statement containing the account numbers of about 27,000 people who had put in money to help it organise the rally. The officials said the list was being independently audited.
The two-day rally saw tens of thousands of Malaysians calling for Mr Najib's resignation.
"Now it is (Mr) Najib Razak's turn to account for his RM2.6 billion. If he fails to do so, then it is clear he has lost all credibility," the civil society coalition said in a press statement.
Mr Najib had said last month that Bersih "collected money, but when asked to reveal (its) source of donations, (it) refused to disclose it", after its leaders refused to field questions from police on the source of funds. "But when it comes to us, they question all kinds of things. We can't have double standards," he said.
Bersih chief Maria Chin Abdullah had then responded that the group was not refusing to disclose details of its accounts, and had told the police, "I didn't want to answer those questions because whatever I (say) will be presented in court".
According to Bersih, it spent RM664,052.52 to organise the Aug 29 to 30 rally. The remaining RM1,983,309.22 will be used to fund its activities for the next two years, including for legal fees, training and voter education.
The rally was held soon after Mr Najib sacked critical members of his Cabinet, including then Deputy PM Muhyiddin Yassin, and made changes to government positions which effectively froze two probes into debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state investor linked to the money that Mr Najib received in personal accounts.
The Wall Street Journal had reported in early July that US$681 million made its way into the Premier's bank accounts just weeks before the 2013 General Election, which he narrowly won. It said another RM42 million was deposited earlier this year and both tranches involved companies linked to 1MDB.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said last month that the US$681 million came from unspecified Middle Eastern donors, although it was still probing the transaction as well as the RM42 million.
Mr Najib has insisted it is his duty as president of Umno to raise funds for the party and that he has never used public money for "personal gain". But the communications chief from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has admitted that the Premier has not explained the source of the RM42 million.
Mr Najib is planning legal action against Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, a former BN stalwart who accused the Premier of putting public funds in his own accounts. His lawyers sent a letter on Monday to Dr Ling, a former Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president, asking him to offer an unreserved apology and compensation within seven days, or legal action would be instituted.
News site Malaysiakini quoted Dr Ling as saying last Saturday that he agreed with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - who was premier when Dr Ling was leading the MCA - that Mr Najib had "taken people's money and put it in his personal accounts".