KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has defended Prime Minister Najib Razak, saying it was not fair for his critics to judge him for taking political donations as it was a practice also done by all political parties.
He said the donation of RM2.6billion (S$920 million) deposited into Datuk Seri Najib's personal account, was from a "brotherly nation", and would not make it susceptible to meddling from the Middle East.
"I would like to remind all political parties ... don't lie saying that they don't receive donations," he said. "For example, just to contest for a parliamentary seat, it costs RM5,000. Imagine 100 seats," Nazri said, questioning where political parties got their money to contest from if not from contributors.
His comments came after concerns raised by critics - including former premier Mahathir Mohamad and members of the opposition - following a declaration by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) last week that the massive funds deposited into Najib's accounts were donations from unnamed Middle Eastern sources, and not from troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Nazri added that it was more "transparent" to channel the funds into Najib's personal account.
"Compared to taking donations in cash or putting it in a Swiss Bank, this is more transparent.
"Just click on the computer and all the transactions will appear," he told reporters after the 2015 Declaration of National Heritage event at the National Museum on Tuesday.
Nazri said he also supported the call for a law governing political donations.
"Like in the US, when they received donations, it would be registered. Everyone knows so there are no issues," he said, adding that Malaysia should have a similar system.