Ex-Umno man held for anti-democratic activities

Mr Khairuddin Abu Hassan, the former Batu Kawan Umno division vice-chairman.
Mr Khairuddin Abu Hassan, the former Batu Kawan Umno division vice-chairman.PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION

He had gone abroad to highlight graft claims against Najib and was leaving for FBI meeting

KUALA LUMPUR • The Malaysian police have decided to detain until Thursday a former ruling party official who had travelled the globe to highlight corruption allegations against Prime Minister Najib Razak, media reported yesterday.

" The magistrate approved the remand after saying that there is a need to investigate further as there is a connection," Mr Stanley Augustin, lead counsel for Mr Khairuddin Abu Hassan, said yesterday, referring to the detainee's activities and his charge of plotting to "undermine parliamentary democracy".

Federal Police Criminal Investigation Department director Mohmad Salleh confirmed the six-day detention yesterday, Bernama reported.

Mr Stanley was quoted by the Malay Mail Online as saying: "The police said that the documents he gave to the Swiss and French authorities are false." He added that he had cast doubt on the police accusation as they had yet to see the documents. Police response, if there is any, remains unclear.

Mr Khairuddin was arrested by the police last Friday after he was stopped from leaving for the United States, where he was to meet Federal Bureau of Investigation officials tomorrow, his lawyer Matthias Chang said.

Critics argue that Mr Khairuddin's charge is so vague that it is open to government abuse. "They want to stop him travelling and maybe to intimidate him," Mr Chang said.

Mr Khairuddin is not the first person to say he had been prevented from leaving the country.

In July, opposition lawmakers Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli - who had been critical of the scandal-plagued state investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) - said they had been barred without reason from travelling. The police did not respond to requests for comment.

Datuk Seri Najib's government has moved to quash further scrutiny of the revelation in July that nearly US$700 million (S$973 million) was deposited into his personal bank accounts. The government has called the money "political donations" from Middle Eastern sources but refuses to give more details.

Mr Najib subsequently sacked his attorney-general and deputy prime minister and made other personnel moves that appear to have stalled investigations.

Mr Khairuddin, a former division head in the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno), has demanded transparency over the Najib funds as well as at 1MDB, which Mr Najib launched.

Mr Najib and the company are under fire over allegations that perhaps more than a billion dollars went missing from overseas deals involving 1MDB, which is now struggling under massive debts.

With no progress seen in Malaysian investigations, Mr Khairuddin has recently travelled to Switzerland, Britain, France and Hong Kong to highlight the case to the authorities, Mr Chang said.

Various foreign investigations have been launched.

The scandals have deeply tarnished Mr Najib, a self-proclaimed reformer. He dismisses them as a conspiracy to unseat him.

Last month, tens of thousands of protesters paralysed Kuala Lumpur with a two-day demonstration to demand Mr Najib's resignation and reform of Malaysia's 58-year-old regime, whose critics accuse it of repression, corruption and electoral chicanery to stay in power.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 20, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-Umno man held for anti-democratic activities'. Print Edition | Subscribe