Najib hits back at critics of 1MDB

POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ALLEGATIONS: History will show that the shameful politically motivated allegations made to unseat a democratically elected government were false. - MALAYSIA'S PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK, lashing out at detractors of his manageme
POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ALLEGATIONS: History will show that the shameful politically motivated allegations made to unseat a democratically elected government were false. - MALAYSIA'S PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK, lashing out at detractors of his management of 1MDB.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mega projects like Tun Razak Exchange are state investor's real legacy: Malaysian PM

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak hit back at detractors of his management of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), pointing to several mega projects as the "real legacy" of the state investment company.

Datuk Seri Najib said that despite the criticisms levelled at 1MDB, the development of new financial district Tun Razak Exchange and transport hub Bandar Malaysia would be remembered and serve as the state investor's legacy.

"And history will show that the shameful politically motivated allegations made to unseat a democratically elected government were false," he told potential investors and financiers at the annual InvestKL conference.

The Prime Minister has come under fire since early last year over his management of the economy and handling of the financial scandals surrounding 1MDB, including US$681 million (S$914 million) banked into his private accounts. Mr Najib's fiercest critic is his one-time mentor and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been leading a campaign to remove him.

 

Without mentioning names, Mr Najib yesterday took a jibe at Tun Dr Mahathir when he criticised those who "against their own principles even asked for foreign intervention!"

During his 22 years as prime minister, Dr Mahathir was known to be distrustful of Western powers. But in an interview with The Weekend Australian, he remarked that the chances of ousting Mr Najib were slim without outside pressure.

Mr Najib yesterday also said opponents who painted the Malaysian economy to be in turmoil "have their own agenda and personal interests, which they have placed above the interests of the country".

"To them, damage to the country is just collateral," he said, adding that "wild allegations" were aired about 1MDB. A report released last week by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) showed that 1MDB had incurred debts of over RM50 billion (S$17.3 billion) as of January this year, stacked against assets of RM53 billion. The firm had paid RM3.3 billion in interest alone in the 2014/2015 financial year.

Despite the hefty debt, 1MDB and Mr Najib, its advisory chief, maintained that they are confident of the rationalisation plan in place to reduce the firm's borrowings.

The PAC report also recommended that former 1MDB chief executive Shahrol Halmi take responsibility for the management's actions. In response to the Auditor-General's findings, the 1MDB board of directors offered to resign.

Mr Najib said that "action will be taken if any evidence of wrongdoing is found" and that there "will be accountability".

Despite the government's assurances, opposition lawmakers say there are still unanswered questions over the billions of dollars in payments made by 1MDB which could not be verified by the authorities. "This is because 1MDB had not provided all the documents that are needed, including the overseas bank statements," opposition MPs on the PAC said in a statement on Monday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Najib hits back at critics of 1MDB'. Print Edition | Subscribe