TELUK INTAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak should take legal action against The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) to clear his name and the country's image, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said the Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) report also questioned the country's leadership in the eyes of the world.
"WSJ as an influential and respected media institution should provide solid evidence before making such a serious allegation. Its action, which seemed to precede ongoing investigations, is aimed at sensationalism," he told reporters after handing out Hari Raya donations to police personnel at the Hilir Perak district police headquarters on Saturday.
"It is up to the Prime Minister to discuss with his lawyers or the Attorney-General on possible action to be taken, either in his individual capacity or as leader of the country," he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the Home Ministry would take action against any media outlet which publishes or broadcast false information or used non-credible sources to hurt the image of the Government and country.
"Laws pertaining to the country's banks are covered by the Banking and Financial Institutions Act.
"Information deemed as banking secrets should not have come out, let alone information from documents not certified by banks," he said, according to Bernama.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he will support the Prime Minister if he sues WSJ.
He said the allegation that money from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) dealings were banked into the Prime Minister's personal bank accounts was "not substantiated by concrete proof and documents".
"It is his right to bring legal action because it is a very serious allegation," said Mr Khairy.
The burden of proof lies with those who made the allegation," he told reporters after a forum, Centrality of Integrity for the Next Generation, in Bangi on Saturday.
Mr Najib's political secretary Datuk Muhammad Khairun Aseh told a Malay daily in comments published on Saturday that the premier would be taking legal action against WSJ.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said it was unlikely that someone would take public funds using his personal bank accounts.
"It is illogical," he said, especially when it involved not millions but billions of ringgit. "This would be easily traced," he added.
There may be a motive behind the allegation like wanting "to destroy our economy", said Mr Ahmad Shabery in Kuantan on Saturday.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein also called on the public not to speculate about the claims.
Mr Hishammuddin, who is also Umno deputy president, said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the police and Bank Negara should be given space to carry out their investigations. A special multi-agency taskforce is probing the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) money trail.
“Do not act hastily and immediately accuse the Prime Minister because the claim is based on media reports, which have yet to be verified. Do not make any speculations because it will only worsen the situation," he said in a statement on Sunday.
“Like any other Malaysians, I want to know what is really happening. Therefore, the authorities, especially the special taskforce should be allowed to carry out its probe,” he added.
Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal said that he was sure that an investigation will be carried out by relevant authorities and independent bodies.