Najib Razak today said he would revoke his application for a free premium plot of land in an exclusive part of Kuala Lumpur, following public outrage in the wake of revelations by MalaysiaNow that the property would cost the government RM100 million including the construction of a new house for the former prime minister.
“I understand the difficult times faced by the people. The nation’s priority should be the people.
“As this issue has created an uncomfortable atmosphere, I suggested to the prime minister to look into it and withdraw the allocation,” he told a press conference in Melaka.
Saying he was eligible for the privilege accorded to him as a former prime minister, Najib added that he did not want his application to become an issue in the Melaka election, where he has been actively campaigning for Umno candidates.
Najib however claimed that he had been in the dark about the value of the property, which an investigation by MalaysiaNow identified as a plot of land bigger than the size of two football fields in Bukit Petaling, a posh neighbourhood in the heart of the capital.
“It’s not my job to evaluate land, that’s the job of the authorities,” he said.
His announcement comes 24 hours after Langkawi MP Dr Mahathir Mohamad questioned the move to grant Najib privileges by invoking the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act, which allows several housing allowance options as a token of appreciation for former prime ministers.
MalaysiaNow, which first revealed details of the “gift” last week, has learnt that Najib had picked the most expensive option in the form of a plot of land measuring some 120,000 sq ft with a market value of close to RM70 million, on which a house would be built by the government at a total cost of RM100 million including the land value.
A reliable source said Najib had made a site visit of the land before officially submitting his request to the Prime Minister’s Department early this year, even as he was busy accusing the administration of Muhyiddin Yassin of ignoring the welfare of Malaysians affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The request only received serious attention after the appointment of Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who replaced Muhyiddin following a coup engineered by Najib and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi with the backing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
It was also learnt that the move by Ismail to approve the gift for Najib had drawn protests from several ministers, including Tengku Zafrul Aziz, Mohamed Azmin Ali, Khairy Jamaluddin and Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, all of whom are key leaders in parties that make up the current government.