Probe of Najib over 1MDB strictly by rule of law: Anwar

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim with former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie in Jakarta yesterday at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of Indonesia's Reformasi. Speaking to reporters later, Mr Anwar said Datuk Seri Najib Razak still has much to answer
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim with former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie in Jakarta yesterday at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of Indonesia's Reformasi. Speaking to reporters later, Mr Anwar said Datuk Seri Najib Razak still has much to answer for, including the murder of Mongolian model Shaaribuu Altantuya.PHOTO: REUTERS

Authorities told to not repeat what they did to me, says premier-in waiting

The investigation of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak over billions of dollars missing from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) will be conducted strictly according to the rule of law, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday.

"I have said (to the authorities), do not repeat what they did to me," added Malaysia's premier-in-waiting, referring to the way he was repeatedly prosecuted for sodomy by political rivals in previous leaderships. "The judiciary then was not free, so never again repeat what happened to me."

 

Mr Anwar was speaking to reporters in Jakarta after meeting former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie at the latter's home earlier in the afternoon.

On the extensive probe against the former Malaysian leader, which has attracted worldwide attention due to the scale of funds missing from the state fund 1MDB which Datuk Seri Najib himself founded, Mr Anwar said Mr Najib still has much to answer for, including the murder of Mongolian model Shaaribuu Altantuya.

The 28-year-old woman was killed and blown up with military-grade explosives in a forest just outside Kuala Lumpur in 2006. In 2015, two former police officers were sentenced to death for the crime after first being sentenced in 2009 and acquitted four years later.

However, there have been reports which alleged that the two officers were bodyguards of Mr Najib, who was deputy prime minister at the time of the killing.

Mongolia's President Battulga Khaltmaa recently called on the new government to reopen investigations into the murder.

"The ghost of Altantuya still haunts him (Najib), there are some unanswered issues, Altantuya's immigration record is missing, Malaysian weapons used," said Mr Anwar.

The leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat was in the capital on the invitation of Dr Habibie to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Indonesia's Reformasi movement, which marked the end of the New Order regime of strongman Suharto in 1998.

The relationship between Mr Anwar and Dr Habibie is said to go back decades.

But while Dr Habibie rose from vice-president to replace Mr Suharto as president on May 21, 1998, following Mr Suharto's fall from power, Mr Anwar was ousted as Malaysia's deputy prime minister and charged with abuse of power and sodomy months later.

In a statement by Mr Anwar, distributed to the press hours before his arrival in Jakarta yesterday, he said the year 1998 was a "sacred year" for both Malaysia and Indonesia. The date May 21, 1998, he added, marked a new era for Indonesians as it was the beginning of the transition of power, while Sept 2, 1998 is celebrated by Malaysians as the beginning of the fall of the Barisan Nasional regime, which was finally realised almost two decades later on May 9 this year.

This is Mr Anwar's first visit overseas since he received a royal pardon last Wednesday from Malaysia's King Muhammad V, for what he has long said were trumped-up charges.

Dr Habibie, who met the press alongside Mr Anwar, remarked that Mr Anwar had gone through "a heavy trial" in life, while reminiscing about a time in 2004 when both had crossed paths in Munich, Germany, while seeking medical treatment.

When asked for his views on the Reformasi movement of both countries, Mr Anwar said there is much to learn from the experience of Indonesia's transformation from the old system to the new.

"There should be a team that examines the process from the government of Habibie up to Jokowi, what are the strengths and weaknesses, and the issues of anxiety of the people, so that we do not repeat the weaknesses," he said, using the popular moniker of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2018, with the headline 'Probe of Najib over 1MDB strictly by rule of law: Anwar'. Print Edition | Subscribe