Why didn't Najib say earlier that money in his accounts was from donors, not 1MDB, veteran journalist asks

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak delivering his messages during the Prime Minister's office monthly assembly at the Prime minster's office in Putrajaya on August 3, 2015.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak delivering his messages during the Prime Minister's office monthly assembly at the Prime minster's office in Putrajaya on August 3, 2015.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A veteran journalist has questioned why Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak did not say from the very beginning that the US$700 million (S$960 million) allegedly deposited into his personal bank accounts was from donations, and not from the debt-laden sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

On Monday, a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) spokesman told The Straits Times that the money did enter Datuk Seri Najib's accounts, which have since been closed, "but we have not found any evidence it came from 1MDB or any gratification received by the donors".

However, the MACC did not reveal who the donors were.

Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, a former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief, asked on his blog on Monday why "Najib and his entire brigade of spin masters" had to beat around the bush.

"Who are these donors and why did it take such a long time for the MACC and the 1MDB task force to discover that the US$700 million was from donations?"

He said that before the MACC announcement, a rumour had claimed that many wealthy Arab princes and sheikhs had "admitted" to donating money to Mr Najib.

"With the benefit of hindsight, the donations story and the talk about the generous Arab benefactors could be wholly possible," wrote Mr Kadir, adding that Mr Najib's wife was close to Arab royalty.

Mr Kadir also questioned why businessman Low Taek Jho had not said anything, since the money was not from 1MDB. Mr Low was revealed to have ties to 1MDB in an expose by the Sarawak Report.

"If the money in the prime minister's accounts was not from 1MDB, why didn't Jho Low say so or why did people linked to the accounts had to run away from the country?" Mr Kadir asked.

He was referring to Mr Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and Datuk Suboh Mohd Yassin, among others. Both men, who are missing, are being sought by the MACC probe into 1MDB.

Mr Kadir also called for the resignation of MACC commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed, for not finding out that the money was from donations at an earlier stage.

"How can they play play with the prime minister like that? Hopefully we are not being presented with yet another round of silap mata (magic tricks) and sihir (black magic)... In Saudi Arabia, if you are found guilty of practising sihir, you can be put to death," he wrote.

A senior opposition leader has also questioned the identities of the mysterious donors to Mr Najib's bank account.

"Is this a donation or a bribe to get something specific? Has the MACC not looked at this?" said a statement from Parti Islam SeMalaysia deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man on Monday.

"What are the conditions of this RM2.6 billion donation? Are we to imagine that a donation this big was made without conditions to the prime minister?" Datuk Tuan Ibrahim's statement said.

"Or is this an accounting trick?"