Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan has laid the blame for the 1MDB scandal squarely on Najib Razak, saying the former prime minister must “pay his dues” if he loses his final appeal at the Federal Court.
Speaking in an interview with Asia Times, Mohamad, who joined hands with Najib and party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to bring down the Perikatan Nasional government last year, said Najib had been unable to prove his innocence, and attributed the country’s problems to Umno’s failure to “tell the truth” about the 1MDB scandal.
“There was only one issue: 1MDB,” he said, referring to Barisan Nasional’s historic loss at the 2018 general election.
“The party and the government were too tolerant. We didn’t manage to explain, we didn’t manage to tell the truth.
“We thought that it was a very simple issue,” Mohamad, popularly known as Tok Mat, added.
“We never realised that this was a bushfire that would spread very far. People are well informed, so you cannot hide and sweep everything under the carpet anymore, so we have to address the issues… The country has gone down the drain because of this one bloody 1MDB case.”
When contacted, Mohamad said his comments were made in the context of plans to get a pardon for the former leader.
“What I said was, Najib must be given a fair trial. If he is found to be guilty, then he is guilty. But he must be tried fairly.
“Any process for a pardon is normally only conducted after the sentence has been carried out.”
Najib was convicted in 2020 of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering in the misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International funds.
He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million, a verdict unanimously upheld by a three-man Court of Appeal bench in December last year.
The appeals court, in throwing out Najib’s appeal, described the RM42 million transfers from SRC International as a “national embarrassment”.
“There was no national interest when RM42 million was transferred into Najib’s accounts, only national embarrassment,” said panel judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil.
Najib is currently appealing his case at the Federal Court.
Mohamad said Najib should not expect special treatment if he is eventually jailed.
“Everybody has to pay their dues. But if we want to pardon, he (Najib) has to go through the process. He’ll have to go inside first,” he was quoted as saying.
“You cannot pardon him before he goes through the process. That is wrong, that is absolutely wrong.”
Referring to the 1MDB scandal, he said things were done “off-balance sheet” and “by one person: the prime minister”.
“And he was also finance minister,” Mohamad added. “He also took charge of 1MDB. That’s how the problem started.”
Nevertheless, he admitted that Najib was still a popular figure, attributing his sway over parts of the population to the perception that he had been subject to “selective prosecution”.
“Whether Najib is wrong or right, people are very clear about what he’s done. People know. I know. We know what’s happened from what we read,” he told Asia Times.