Najib's brother may set up NGO for moderates

KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, brother of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and one of the nation's top bankers, said yesterday that he is planning to set up a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that promotes moderation.

The CIMB Group chairman said his initiative was prompted by concerns over Malaysian politics and society, the Malay Mail reported. He denied reports that he was forming a political party.

"This is not true," he said in a statement yesterday.

Mr Nazir has been a prominent critic of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state-backed fund that is wholly owned by the Finance Ministry and whose chairman is the Prime Minister.

Last week, he called the delay of 1MDB's audit for the financial year that ended in March "perplexing" and questioned the levels of governance of government-linked companies.

He has criticised 1MDB's president and group executive director Arul Kanda Kandasamy as well as former chief executive Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi for not attending a Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the fund, which has racked up RM42 billion (S$15 billion) in debts in less than six years. Both said they had prior engagements.

Explaining his proposal to start a new group, Mr Nazir said he has been growing "increasingly concerned" about the socio-political environment and its impact on the country's economy, the Malay Mail reported. "In this context, I have had conversations with like- minded friends, including Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, about the need to better enable moderate Malaysians to voice their views, concerns and suggestions."

Mr Saifuddin is a former Umno deputy minister.

"We have discussed setting up an NGO but it remains just an idea at this moment," Mr Nazir clarified in the e-mail statement.

Mr Saifuddin confirmed that he had been discussing the country's situation with Mr Nazir.

"We are thinking of forming an NGO as a platform for moderate voices," the chief executive of the Global Movement of Moderates said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2015, with the headline 'Najib's brother may set up NGO for moderates'. Print Edition | Subscribe