No need for Malaysian PM Najib to reveal details of political donation, says new Cabinet minister

Dr Salleh at his office in Putrajaya.
Dr Salleh at his office in Putrajaya.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - There is no need for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to provide details of the political donation he received despite pressure from the opposition to do so, said newly appointed Cabinet minister Salleh Said Keruak.

Datuk Seri Salleh said the Prime Minister was not bound by any law requiring him to disclose the details of the donors.

"There is no law that says one can't collect money for political purposes," the new Communications and Multimedia Minister told The Star in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Dr Salleh said it was more important to note that Datuk Seri Najib was cleared by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

"The money did not come from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) - that was the accusation.

"But the MACC said there was no corrupt practice and this was money donated by people," he said.

However, Dr Salleh agreed that there should be laws governing political funds.

"The Prime Minister said there should be political reform... we will work on it," he said.

MACC had declared that the RM2.6 billion (S$928 million) allegedly deposited into Mr Najib's personal accounts came from donors and not 1MDB.

The opposition then wanted the Prime Minister to name the source of the funds in order to end speculation.

On perceptions that he was appointed to the Cabinet for being a Najib loyalist, Dr Salleh said he was unperturbed by that.

"They can give their views. I will do my best. I am a party man. I'm from (Umno) Sabah and I defend my president.

"Why he appointed me, that you should ask him.

"I was myself surprised. I only knew about it that day," he said.

Meanwhile, the MACC will ask Mr Najib to shed light on the donation he is said to have received from the Middle-East.

In a statement on Wednesday, the MACC maintained that the money was not from 1MDB but had come from a donor in the Middle East.

"There are many parties who are unclear after our Aug 3 statement.

"Following this, we discussed with the Attorney-General who asked that we clear the air over the donation," the commission said.

It added that MACC had tracked down and taken statements from the donor.

"We identified the donor from bank documents and letters sent to the Prime Minister when large sums were deposited into his account. We spoke to the donor who has also confirmed that it was a donation," it said.

The MACC added that the investigation into 1MDB's former subsidiary SRC International was still ongoing.

"There are two issues being investigated, the RM2.6 billion in the Prime Minister's account and the RM4 billion involving SRC.

"The investigations into the RM4 billion are still ongoing and that we would like to stress that we did not say the investigation is closed, only that the RM2.6 billion is not from 1MDB," it said.

The commission also clarified the reason behind releasing the Aug 3 statement without involving the police or Bank Negara, who are members of a special task force with MACC.

"We did not make the announcement through the task force after the Attorney-General advised us that there was no need for a task force.

"All the agencies can continue to work on the issue based on the relevant laws," it said.

On Aug 3, the MACC stated that the RM2.6 billion deposited into Mr Najib's account had come from a donation and not from 1MDB.

The commission added that MACC's investigations only focused on issues related to 1MDB's former subsidiary SRC International and RM2.6 billion in Mr Najib's personal account.

It said the police were carrying out investigations related to 1MDB while Bank Negara focused on probing financial procedures.

The MACC also urged the public to refrain from speculating until investigations are completed.