PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysia premier Najib Razak says he is lucky that the Internal Security Act (ISA) has been abolished and that he has not been charged with sodomy pending trial on the 1MDB-linked charges he faces.
"It is very clear that the Pakatan Harapan government is using all the power in the government, agencies and media to influence the people's thoughts to tarnish my name even though the 1MDB case is awaiting trial in court," Najib wrote in a statement posted on Facebook on Sunday (Nov 25) night.
Najib has been charged with money laundering, criminal breach of trust and abusing his position over claims that he pocketed money from SRC International, a subsidiary of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). He now faces a total of 38 graft-related charges.
Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to those charges and his trial is due to start next year.
"I am lucky that the ISA has been abolished and I have not yet been charged with a sodomy case," he said in comments seen as a sarcastic jibe at the previous sodomy conviction of former deputy prime minister and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim.
He made the comments in a statement posted on Facebook after the revelation by Auditor-General Madinah Mohamad that the original audit report on 1MDB had been altered.
In his statement, Najib addressed the claims by Tan Sri Madinah that several amendments had been made in the final audit report in 2016, including the removal of a paragraph mentioning fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho's attendance at a 1MDB board meeting.
Najib repeated his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah's statement on Sunday that information about Low, better known as Jho Low, attending a 1MDB meeting had been reported since 2015.
"If we look at it in detail and maturity, the Finance Ministry under me has answered via a written reply in Parliament on Dec 21, 2015, to verify that Jho Low did attend a 1MDB meeting but in the capacity of representing the PetroSaudi company and Prince Turki," Najib said.
"Before that, this fact was also verified, explained and discussed during the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Nov 25, 2015.
"Both of these revelations definitely happened before the date claimed by the Auditor-General that there was an attempt to hide Jho Low's name in the audit report."
Najib reiterated that there was no attempt by the previous administration to hide the fact about Low's attendance in the 1MDB board meeting from the PAC or the people.
Meanwhile, Shafee questioned the timing of Dr Madinah's revelation, saying that her statement can be "interpreted as an attempt to influence public opinion and to prejudice Najib before his court cases".
Shafee's statement also said that the Auditor-General made no attempt to contact Najib, who was the former finance minister, for an explanation about his alleged role in the alteration of the 1MDB audit report before the press statement was issued.
This, he said, was a serious breach of natural justice.
Dr Madinah, in her statement, said two crucial deletions were made to the final audit report on 1MDB - one on the financial status of 1MDB and the other on the presence of Low at a meeting of the 1MDB board of directors.
She said the directive to make the changes had come from Najib's former principal private secretary Shukry Salleh on Feb 26, 2016, on the grounds that it was a sensitive issue and to prevent it from being manipulated by the then political opposition.