Najib in the hot seat over WSJ report

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has rejected the allegations that huge sums of money were transferred to his bank accounts. Non-governmental groups have called for him to temporarily vacate all of his government posts till the investigations are
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has rejected the allegations that huge sums of money were transferred to his bank accounts. Non-governmental groups have called for him to temporarily vacate all of his government posts till the investigations are completed.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Groups threaten mass rallies if he does not resolve allegations of fund transfers

Public pressure mounted on Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday to provide answers to allegations published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that huge sums of money had been transferred to his personal accounts in a bank in Kuala Lumpur.

Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 and a university students group said separately that they would organise public rallies if Datuk Seri Najib failed to resolve the issue.

The students from the International Islamic University of Malaysia (UIA) also urged Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to temporarily take over the government.

The two groups were among the first non-governmental groups to have voiced their unease at the scandal engulfing Mr Najib, since the report by the business newspaper came out last Friday.

The WSJ report alleged transfers of US$700 million (S$940 million) into Mr Najib's accounts in AmBank - Malaysia's fifth-largest lender - and triggered a multi-agency government probe.

CALL FOR TRANSPARENCY

Najib must reveal to the public the details of his bank accounts and explain whether the AmBank accounts under his name exist. If they do, then show the transaction details of that day

MS MARIA CHIN ABDULLAH, Bersih 2.0 chairman, on the claims against Mr Najib

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah called on the Prime Minister to temporarily vacate all of his government posts to allow the authorities to conduct their investigations.

She said the authorities must freeze the accounts of Mr Najib's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and their children during the investigation, which should be concluded within a month and its findings should be disclosed to the public.

"Najib must reveal to the public the details of his bank accounts and explain whether the AmBank accounts under his name exist. If they do, then show the transaction details of that day," Ms Maria told a press conference yesterday.

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail said a special task force comprising the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, police and the central bank has been probing state investment agency 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) amid claims that its funds were deposited into Mr Najib's accounts.

The authorities last week raided three offices of companies mentioned by WSJ as being one channel from where the funds originated.

Mr Najib has rejected the allegations but has not denied outright the existence of the AmBank accounts. He has instead claimed that the allegations were a political sabotage masterminded by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been calling for his resignation.

Student leaders from the UIA, meanwhile, have written an open letter to Tan Sri Muhyiddin, urging him to temporarily take over the reins of government.

"(Muhyiddin) must urge Najib to take leave until the investigation involving the Prime Minister is completed", with Mr Muhyiddin acting as prime minister, the students said in a joint statement yesterday.

Among the student leaders who signed the letter were president of the student representative council Hanif Mahpa and president of the law faculty student association Ahmad Fadhli Umar Aminolhuda.

The students made three other demands. These are the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the allegations against Mr Najib, asking the Prime Minister and the government to take legal action against WSJ, and for both the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, and AmBank to deny the United States financial daily's report immediately.

The students said they would organise a mass protest with other universities if their demands were not met.

Last Saturday, Mr Muhyiddin said in a statement that Mr Najib must provide a convincing explanation as the allegations in the report were personal in nature.

However, unlike other Umno leaders who have come forward to defend the Prime Minister, Mr Muhyiddin was not critical of WSJ.

"If he is confident that the accusations are untrue and mere libel, then it is appropriate that he take legal action against those who made the allegations in order to clear his name and restore the government's credibility," wrote Mr Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president.

Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal, seen as Mr Muhyiddin's ally, has also called on Mr Najib to take legal action against WSJ to protect the government's credibility.

Caught in the whirlwind of accusations and counter-accusations is Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir, Dr Mahathir's youngest son.

Datuk Mukhriz said the party grassroots deserve to know the truth from the party leadership.

"I have no qualms about choosing to be loyal to our leaders, but there are questions that must be answered so that we know what it is we are actually supporting," Mr Mukhriz said at an event on Sunday.

"If we are to be loyal, let it be that we are smart in our loyalty, not because we don't know what we are loyal to or be blindly loyal."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2015, with the headline 'Najib in the hot seat over WSJ report'. Print Edition | Subscribe