FREE TO REIGN
Royal pardon for Ibrahim as ousted PM’s home raided
Police have searched ousted prime minister Najib Razak’s home amid a probe into the scandalplagued state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Armed police entered the ex-Malaysian PM’s family home and other places linked to him, as thousands of people watched the drama unfold live on TV.
It was an extraordinary scenario that few could have predicted before the nation’s May 9 general election — which Mr Najib was expected to win. Instead the 92-yearold former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad won, while jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been pardoned to become a prime minister-in-waiting.
Police commercial crime investigations director Amar Singh yesterday said searches were continuing at the house, at the ex-prime minister’s office and another residence he had used, as well as two apartments owned by his family. “We are in the midst of collecting information,” he said, confirming that the searches were related to investigations into the 1MDB scandal that had dogged Mr Najib since 2015.
The multibillion-dollar scandal over the fund he founded is being investigated by police in at least six countries, including the US.
Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer Harpal Singh Grewal said police seized only a few personal items from his family home. “They found nothing incriminating,” he said.
Just days after Malaysia’s long-ruling political coalition was defeated in the election, new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad barred Najib and his wife from leaving the country.
Mr Najib was once a protege of Dr Mahathir, who now says there is sufficient evidence to investigate the 1MDB scandal. Asked about the searches, Dr Mahathir (below) said it was a police matter and he had little information, but added: “I suppose the police have enough reasons to raid.” US authorities allege that more than $US4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB. Meanwhile, reformist champion Mr Ibrahim has celebrated a “new dawn” for Malaysia after he was given a royal pardon and freed from custody. M r Anwar, 70, was convicted of sodomy in 2015 but has transformed from political prisoner into a prime minister-in-waiting following his alliance’s election win. “Now there is a new dawn for Malaysia,” he said.
But analysts say his release could cause tensions in the new government led by Dr Mahathir who, after leading the four-party alliance in the election campaign, has become the world’s oldest leader. Dr Mahathir is the chairman of the alliance and Mr Anwar its de facto leader.
Mr Anwar sought to allay those concerns, saying he was not in a hurry to take over from Dr Mahathir.
Anwar Ibrahim greets supporters during a rally in Kuala Lumpur.