Malaysia to question ex-PM Muhyiddin on links to public funds case

Mr Muhyiddin Yassin was prime minister from March 2020 to August 2021, and now leads the opposition. PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s anti-graft agency will summon for questioning former premier Muhyiddin Yassin and two ex-Cabinet ministers who served in his administration for the alleged misappropriation of RM600 billion (S$185.6 billion) of public funds for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The other two are former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin and ex-finance minister Zafrul Aziz, who now heads the international trade and industry ministry in the new government, the New Straits Times reported, citing people it did not name. The funds for the pandemic included resources for vaccines, the newspaper added. 

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on Thursday said it had opened an investigation into the allegations. It made no mention of who it would summon, but said the probe would be conducted in a transparent and professional manner. 

“There have been no calls from the MACC yet,” Mr Zafrul told reporters. “If contacted, I will cooperate fully. We have nothing to hide.”

Aides to Mr Muhyiddin and Mr Khairy, as well as anti-graft agency officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments. 

News of the probe comes as Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is reviewing projects and plans approved by past administrations in a bid to burnish his credentials as a reformist and fulfil his alliance’s election manifesto promises to fight corruption.

Datuk Seri Anwar himself has been criticised for picking Zahid Hamidi, head of the former ruling Barisan Nasional coalition who faces graft charges, as one of his deputies.

Mr Anwar said this week the Finance Ministry found there was a breach of procedure in the handling of RM600 billion of public funds during Mr Muhyiddin’s time as premier. He also ordered a review of the 5G mobile services contract awarded to Ericsson in 2021, citing concerns about cost and transparency.

Mr Muhyiddin was prime minister from March 2020 to August 2021, and now leads the opposition. He and Mr Anwar fought a tight election race in November that resulted in a hung Parliament and set off a contest to drum up support from several coalitions to form the government.

Mr Anwar eventually got the consent from the country’s king to form the government, but he needs to keep several political blocs happy ahead of a confidence vote in Parliament later this month. BLOOMBERG

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