Malaysia agog as dis­graced ex-PM Na­jib’s cup­boards laid bare

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS -

KUALA LUMPUR, (Reuters) - Malaysians have avidly watched the pub­lic hu­mil­i­a­tion of for­mer leader Na­jib Razak and his wife, as po­lice hunt­ing ev­i­dence of graft loaded five trucks with lux­ury items, in­clud­ing dozens of Birkin hand­bags, some cost­ing as much as a sportscar.

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple logged onto Face­book watched as jour­nal­ists live-streamed the 3 am raid on Fri­day at an apart­ment in a fancy con­do­minium, just one of sev­eral lo­ca­tions linked to the Na­jib fam­ily that were searched.

Mil­lions more watched, as news chan­nels aired the footage on a loop through the fol­low­ing day.

Dur­ing his near ten years in power, Na­jib stamped out po­lit­i­cal dis­sent, and sti­fled crit­i­cism in the me­dia.

But since Na­jib’s de­feat in the May 9 elec­tion to 92year-old Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, his men­tor­turned-foe, and jailed op­po­si­tion leader An­war Ibrahim, me­dia cov­er­age of his down­fall has been re­morse­less.

“All of the se­crets are com­ing out al­ready,” said Sara Rashid, serv­ing at Op­ti­mist Cof­fee, a busy down­town cafe in Kuala Lumpur. A black­board list­ing spe­cials in­cluded “free­dom of ex­pres­sion”.

“I think now we have got this op­por­tu­nity to wit­ness ev­ery­thing, we don’t want to miss the chance,” she said.

The Her­mes-branded boxes for the Birkins were plainly seen, loaded in to shop­ping trol­leys as they were carted away, but po­lice said that be­sides the bags, which can cost as much as three times the prime min­is­ter’s an­nual salary of $120,000, they brought out cash, watches and jew­els.

“The num­ber of jew­ellery is rather big,” po­lice­man Amar Singh, di­rec­tor of com­mer­cial crime in­ves­ti­ga­tions, told re­porters out­side. Up­loaded to so­cial me­dia, his com­ments quickly gath­ered more than 80,000 views on­line. The new gov­ern­ment has made a pri­or­ity of find­ing out how bil­lions of dol­lars went miss­ing from 1Malaysia De­vel­op­ment Ber­had (1MDB), a fund set up by Na­jib. He has con­sis­tently de­nied any wrong­do­ing at 1MDB, and prior to elec­tion the main­stream me­dia had towed the of­fi­cial line.

Na­jib’s wife Ros­mah Man­sor, who has be­come a fo­cal point for pub­lic crit­i­cism for flaunt­ing her wealth, took is­sue with the way in which the cam­eras filmed the po­lice raid.

In a state­ment is­sued through her lawyers on Satur­day she said the “me­dia hail­storm” was “a seem­ingly tar­geted vil­i­fi­ca­tion of our fam­ily to pro­voke pub­lic anger,” and railed against the publi­ca­tion of de­tails of items taken from her home.

“En­force­ment agen­cies should not be feed­ing so­cial me­dia trolls,” she said.

Wags on­line had al­ready posted memes com­par­ing po­lice­man Singh to the su­per­hero Iron Man, and cap­tion­ing his re­marks with “CASH IS NO LONGER KING, THE SINGH IS KING NOW.” It was mostly one-way traf­fic on Twit­ter.

“YA ALLAHHH NA­JIB ROS­MAH. How do you sleep at nights!! HOW DO YOU EVEN LIVE THIS LIFE !!!! ” lawyer Nu­rainie Haz­iqah wrote on Twit­ter.

Dur­ing the ten days since he lost power, Na­jib and his wife have been barred from leav­ing the coun­try, his home has been searched by po­lice and anti-cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tors have said they will meet him next week.

Na­jib, whose late fa­ther was Malaysia’s sec­ond prime min­is­ter, has also quit as head of the United Malays Na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion, the party that, un­til now, had headed ev­ery multi-eth­nic coali­tion to rule Malaysia for the past six decades.

Na­jib Razak

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