Friday, January 21, 2022

Forex losses a bigger national embarrassment, says Najib in potshot at Dr M

The former prime minister says he always promoted national interests during his political career.

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Najib Razak today questioned remarks by panel judges when delivering their decision in the Court of Appeal describing the RM42 million transactions into his bank accounts as a “national embarrassment”.

Instead, the former prime minister took aim at Dr Mahathir Mohamad, referring to the foreign exchange losses which took place during the veteran leader’s first term in office, saying these were a bigger national embarassment.

“If you talk about national embarrassment, there are other scandalous issues, for example the scandal surrounding the foreign exchange which led to losses of about RM31 billion.

“Isn’t that a much more colossal national embarassment?” he asked during a joint virtual press conference with his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, hours after losing his appeal to overturn his conviction for seven charges of power abuse, criminal breach of trust and money laundering related to the transfer of RM42 million from SRC International to his private bank accounts.

Delivering the judgment today, Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, one of the three appeals court judges who unanimously maintained the High Court’s verdict on Najib, referred to a defence argument during the trial which said that loans totalling RM4 billion from the government’s Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to SRC International, from which the RM42 million to Najib originated, were approved in the name of national interest.

“There was no national interest when RM42 million was transferred into Najib’s accounts, only national embarrassment,” Karim said as he read out the judgment brief.

The remark also drew criticism from Shafee, who said it was “unnecessary”.

Najib said he had always promoted national interests during his political career.

“Of course, I am very very disappointed with that,” he said on the judge’s remark.

He said under his leadership, the total assets of the country grew from RM800 billion to RM2 trillion.

“Therefore I created a lot of wealth for the country.”

Although Najib did not name Mahathir, it was clear that he was referring to some US$10 billion losses allegedly incurred by Bank Negara Malaysia between 1987 and 1992.

In 2017, as Mahathir led mounting opposition against Najib over revelations surrounding the 1MDB scandal, the Barisan Nasional government at the time established a royal commission of inquiry (RCI), which grilled Mahathir among others.

Najib said the RCI to investigate the losses was not followed up on by the Pakatan Harapan government which came to power in 2018.

“A loss of RM31 billion was classified as ‘no further action’,” he added.

Meanwhile, to a question on whether he is planning to contest the next general election, Najib said there were several considerations to take into account.

“We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

“There are political considerations and personal considerations to be made,” the Pekan MP said.

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