February 26, 2024

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Jail would be harsh for former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak: Anwar Ibrahim

Jail would be harsh for former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak: Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the prison would be a stark contrast to the lifestyle of seven-star former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as Malaysia begins to find “closure” to the scandal that has rocked the country for years.

Najib, accused of his role in embezzling billions of dollars from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, lost his appeal against his prison sentence on Monday..

Malaysia’s highest court on Tuesday upheld his 12-year sentence, which began in Kajang Prison, south of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

“I think this is a good start. It is reforming and Malaysia is maturing as a vibrant democracy with strong institutions,” Anwar told CNBC.Squawk Box Asia” Tuesday.

“Political leaders and political elites who keep scrambling without them [sic] impunity, they think they are invincible and above the law, [but] Now, he said, the message is very clear. Credit should be given to ‘The Rakyat’ [the people]who decided, and therefore we have to continue.”

Rort refers to a fraudulent or dishonest act or scheme.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at the Federal Court in Putrajaya on August 15, 2022. The country’s highest court upheld the 12-year prison sentence, which began in Kajang Prison, south of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday.

Muhammad Rasfan | Afp | Getty Images

He urged Malaysians to vote for the “incorruptible”. Leaders when they go to the polls next time. Malaysia should call elections by September 2023.

Najib was at the center of the scandal – dubbed the world’s largest burglary ruling case – along with the alleged fraud mastermind Malaysian businessman Joe Low and Goldman Sachs banker.

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It is alleged that about $700 million was transferred to Najib’s accounts, and losses from 1MDB were said to have exceeded $4 billion. Najib continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Anwar himself was at the center of various political controversies. He was the country’s deputy prime minister in the 1990s and was controversially sacked by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before he was imprisoned on sodomy and corruption charges.

His conviction was overturned and he was released in 2004. He was imprisoned again for sodomy in 2014 before being granted a royal pardon in 2018 and released.

Anwar said Najib would have enjoyed better prison conditions than in the 1990s when he was denied books or family visits, but prison would be tough on the former prime minister, the first person to be imprisoned in the country.

“From what I understand from my old colleagues, the prison officers, he will be treated somewhat better, and he will be given some accommodations,” he told CNBC.

“But still, prison is not a bed of roses, it is difficult, especially compared to his current lifestyle in a seven-star hotel, you will have to experience something difficult and difficult.”

Najeeb and his wife, Rosma Mansour, have been accused of living a luxurious lifestyle on 1MDB. Court hearings revealed that they had spent thousands of dollars on expensive hotels and jewellery.

Anwar said any attempts by Najib to challenge his sentence through further reviews would be difficult, referring to his previous failed attempts.

Anwar added that Najib could also try to get a pardon from the king of Malaysia, but given the financial enormity of the 1MDB scandal, the path could be difficult.

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Asked if he should face others in the case, such as businessman Lu and Najib Rosma’s wife, Anwar said it is important that the Malaysian authorities continue to seek justice in this scandal, including the recovery of funds stolen from the public treasury.

In 2018, Malaysian police raided the homes of Najib and Rosma as part of a 1MDB investigation and recovered 284 boxes containing luxury handbags and 72 bags filled with jewellery, cash, watches and other valuables.

Anwar also said that it is unlikely that Najib will be able to garner support or influence the outcome of the upcoming elections behind bars.

Anwar said those who supported him so far – as seen in court on Monday – during his court appearance were mainly from his constituencies.