Malaysian PM Najib 'to solve 1MDB crisis by year end'

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at the prime minister's office in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 6, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at the prime minister's office in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 6, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

Malaysian PM reportedly makes pledge at briefing for party grassroots

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has vowed to solve the issues surrounding troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) by the end of the year, the Malaysian Insider news website reported yesterday.

Datuk Seri Najib made the pledge to solve the crisis in two to six months at a closed-door session with Umno division information chiefs and pro-Barisan Nasional groups at Putra World Trade Centre yesterday, the website reported, citing an attendee at the session.

"Earliest is two months, but at any rate, he said he will solve it by the end of the year," said Mr Hasan Hamzah, who leads a group called Gabungan Bertindak Perpaduan Melayu.

But Umno leaders at the event were tight-lipped about its details and did not confirm the pledge allegedly made by Mr Najib.

The briefing had been held for Mr Najib to address party grassroots on the controversy over 1MDB and other issues.

1MDB has been dogged by public scrutiny after racking up RM42 billion (S$15 billion) in debt.

The debt has been a drag on state finances, weighing on the ringgit and the country's sovereign credit rating.

The fund is under investigation by the Auditor-General's Department and Parliament's Public Accounts Committee. This month, the central bank also said it would launch an inquiry into the loss- making fund.

The controversy over the fund has sparked calls for Mr Najib, who is 1MDB's chief adviser, to resign from the government.

Mr Hasan said Mr Najib acknowledged the problems plaguing the fund but noted that it needed time to solve them.

"The PM admitted that there are problems, but this is a business entity, it has enough assets," Mr Hasan was quoted as telling the website.

"If we give him enough time, he would be able to solve all the problems."

Mr Hasan also said Mr Najib indirectly referred to his ongoing spat with former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has in recent months waged a public campaign to get the Premier to step down.

Mr Najib, in turn, has accused Tun Dr Mahathir of using the 1MDB issue as an excuse to attack him, adding that Dr Mahathir should wait until the three separate probes into 1MDB have been completed.

Mr Hasan said Mr Najib made it clear - without referring to Dr Mahathir by name - that he intended to stay on in the job in order to see through the fund's problems.

"He said he cannot bow down to an individual's pressure, whoever that may be."