NGO by Najib's brother 'may be launched soon'

KUALA LUMPUR - The new non-governmental organisation (NGO) that is the brainchild of banker Nazir Razak, brother of Malaysia's Prime Minister, will "hopefully be launched soon", said the man likely to head it, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Mr Saifuddin, a former deputy minister, said the organisation is in its planning stages and that those involved in it are talking to a considerable number of people who may join the group, reported news website The Malaysian Insider on Thursday.

He added that the new group will be an independent organisation addressing socio-political issues, the website reported.

Reports had emerged on Tuesday that Datuk Seri Nazir was forming a new political party to put an end to the divisive racial politics of the country.

However, the group chairman of CIMB bank on Wednesday refuted this, saying that he was considering setting up an NGO.

"I refer to recent news reports that I am setting up a new political party. This is not true," he said in a statement.

He added that he had been growing "increasingly concerned" about the Malaysian socio-political environment and its impact on the economy.

Mr Nazir's brother, Prime Minister Najib Razak, is embroiled in a scandal involving the debt-ridden government investment fund 1MDB and faces pressure from former premier Mahathir Mohamad to resign.

Meanwhile, the country's major opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat, collapsed this week due to differences between two of its partners over ideology.

Mr Nazir in his statement said that he had had conversations with "like-minded friends, including Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, about the need to better enable moderate Malaysians to voice their views, concerns and suggestions". He added that they had discussed setting up an NGO but that "it remains just an idea at this moment".

Mr Saifuddin's remarks to reporters on Thursday confirmed the setting-up of the NGO, although he said he could not divulge the details just yet.

This new organisation would be different from the government-funded think-tank, the Global Movement of Moderates, that he now heads.

"The think-tank advises the government while an independent NGO can speak up as it's a people's organisation," Mr Saifuddin was quoted as saying.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline 'NGO by Najib's brother 'may be launched soon''. Subscribe