Najib fails to address key issues raised by Mahathir: Report

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who went on national television on Thursday to confront charges against him by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, did not address key questions relating to issues such as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the murder of Mongolian interpretator Altantuya Shaariibuu, it was reported.

While Mr Najib said he would not condone any abuse of power in 1MDB and that the state-owned investment company has enough money to pay off all its debts, he made no mention of his ties with hard partying business tycoon Low Taek Jho, Malaysiakini reported on Friday.

The Penang-born tycoon had earlier denied any wrongdoing over 1MDB's investment in a US$2.5 billion (S$3.5 billion) oil venture that failed to take off. The prime minister had also refuted claims that Low was involved in the decision-making of 1MDB.

On the murder of Altantuya, Malaysiakini said Najib did not address the main issues relating to the motive for the murder and if anyone had ordered the killing. It said he merely reiterated his innocence in the case and that he did not know the Mongolian national.

The crux of Dr Mahathir's arguments on the case was the absence of a motive and that fugitive police commando Sirul Azhar Umar should not be sentenced to death for "following orders".

In the hour-long interview conducted by Umno-linked TV3 on Thursday night, the prime minister also failed to address Putrajaya's decision to purchase an Airbus ACJ320 for him, the news portal said.

The opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has claimed that the operations, maintenance and management costs of the jet will total RM46 million (S$17.2 million), or RM690 million for 15 years. PKR vice-president and secretary-general Rafizi Ramli has also said Putrajaya would spend another RM28 million to refurbish the cabin. So far the government has not refuted the figures, according to Malaysiakini.

Mr Najib also failed to address Dr Mahathir's questions about his family's fortune, prompted by a Feb 9 New York Times article that reported the family has vast wealth, much of it overseas. In that article, the prime minister's office defended Mr Najib's wealth by claiming that it came from inheritance.

Mr Najib's four brothers later issued a statement saying that there were no "legacy family assets" and that any claim to the contrary is an insult to their father, Tun Abdul Razak, the country's second prime minister and a man known for his parsimony with government funds, Malaysia Today reported in February.

Dr Mahathir said Mr Najib had been silent on these issues for far too long and predicted that Umno and Barisan Nasional will be defeated during the next general election unless the latter steps down as prime minister.