Mahathir 'told to tone down his attacks on Najib'

KUALA LUMPUR • A former top Special Branch officer, who was abruptly transferred out of the department last week, has said that he met Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad four times in the past two years, under instruction from his superiors to get the former leader to tone down his attacks on Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In what is seen as an unprecedented move, former Bukit Aman Special Branch deputy director, Deputy Commissioner Abdul Hamid Bador, told newsmen at a press conference that he met Dr Mahathir to get his views on certain things, and also to get his consent to not do "some things".

"At first, he agreed not to attack (Najib) openly. He said he would meet him," Mr Abdul said. He also said Dr Mahathir told him that he was unhappy with the way the government was running things, such as BR1M, the 1Malaysia People's Aid programme introduced by Mr Najib in 2012 to dole out cash to the poor.

Last week, Mr Abdul, who is currently on leave, was quoted as saying that he would not "defame" the person who had contributed so much to the country, a clear reference to Dr Mahathir. He was then transferred from Bukit Aman to the Prime Minister's Department last Thursday.

Mr Abdul also alleged that there were "invisible powers" that were uneasy with his presence as the No. 2 in Bukit Aman's Special Branch, which could have led to his transfer. The fact that he was insisting on having 1MDB fully investigated may also have had something to do with it, he said.

He said, several weeks before the transfer order was out, that he was called up to meet Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. "I was given a choice between being transferred to the National Security Council or the Prime Minister's Department," Mr Abdul said, adding that he felt it odd that he was not told what his new role would be.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has, however, described the transfer as "nothing out of the ordinary", adding that Mr Abdul was to oversee security and transnational issues in the PM's department.

The IGP also said that Mr Abdul was informed of the transfer after he "rescinded" his request to retire early.

Mr Abdul told newsmen that he was not involved in the arrest of three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers, to assist with investigations in connection with the scandal surrounding state investment firm, 1MDB.

He also said Special Branch had advised the government to explain clearly to the people about the 1MDB issue, and urged those involved to come forward to clarify it. 1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Mr Najib, has been dogged by controversy amid accusations of financial mismanagement and graft.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2015, with the headline 'Mahathir 'told to tone down his attacks on Najib''. Print Edition | Subscribe