Mahathir's funding claim illogical, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR • Beleaguered Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday cast doubt on the "unreasonably" modest campaign funding claimed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, while arguing that the leader of the ruling Umno should have full control over its political funding.

Datuk Seri Najib, who has come under fire for receiving RM2.6 billion (S$897 million) in his personal accounts before the 2013 General Election, dismissed as illogical Dr Mahathir's claim that an election campaign cost only RM10 million, The Malaysian Insider reported.

"(Mahathir) said in the 90s he spent only RM10 million. I thought about that repeatedly. With the election deposits for 193 parliamentary seats and the state seats in them, you would need at least RM41 million," Mr Najib told an Umno delegates' meeting of some 3,000 people in Penang yesterday.

"That is just the minimum expenditure if you spend RM100,000 per parliamentary seat and RM50,000 per state seat for the deposits," he was quoted by The Malaysian Insider as saying.

"The RM10 million is not reasonable. Even if you want to criticise... It must be logical and factual."

Mr Najib stressed that it is not customary in Umno to question a leader's political funding.

"How the president raised the money, who had donated it, it is at the discretion of the president," he was quoted by The Star as saying.

"Why question me when what I have done was for the party and not for my own gain? I also did not break any laws," he said, adding that the country's anti-graft watchdog had also cleared him.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said on Aug 3 that the considerable sum found in Mr Najib's accounts was from a donation, as opposed to allegations that linked it to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Najib said he never inquired about political funding when he served as deputy to then prime minister Abdullah Badawi. Nor did Tun Abdullah question his predecessor Dr Mahathir, he said.

He appealed for a stop to fault- finding, so that Umno could focus on moving ahead. "If we are preoccupied with this, when will we focus on the people's interest?" he said.

Meanwhile, an Umno division leader said that the RM2.6 billion found in Mr Najib's personal bank accounts was donated by Saudi Arabia, as a sign of appreciation for Malaysia's efforts in combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, Malaysiakini reported yesterday.

"Two or three more countries also received (donations) including the Muslim community in the Philippines and (southern) Thailand," said Kuantan Umno division chief Wan Adnan Wan Mamat.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Mahathir's funding claim illogical, says Najib'. Print Edition | Subscribe