Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, on the right, embraces former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, left, during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, May 1
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysian new leader Mahathir Mohamad said he had banned his scandal-torn predecessor and his wife from leaving the country to prevent them from fleeing prosecution
A leaked flight manifest showed that Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor were planning to take a private jet to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Saturday, rumors that he was chasing the country after a shocking electoral defeat ended his 60-year position of power Coalition.
"There are many complaints against him that all need to be investigated," Mahathir said at a press conference. "We have to act fast, because we do not want to be extradited by other countries."
Mahathir said the investigation would take some time, as investigators would have to turn to authorities in other countries to gather evidence. He said that Najib "will have the consequences" if any misconduct is found.
Najib said on social media that he would plan a short vacation to spend time with his family. The immigration office, which initially stated that there is no travel ban, later issued a statement that the former prime minister and his wife are blacklisted to leave Malaysia.
Mahathir confirmed that he had prevented Najib from leaving. He said there was enough evidence to investigate Najib's corruption scandal concerning the 1MDB state fund being investigated in the United States and other countries. US investigators say Najib's staff stole and washed $ 4.5 billion. $ 700 million landed in Najib's bank account and $ 30 million was bought for his wife's jewelry. Najib has denied any wrongdoing.
Najib responded quickly, saying that he respected the Immigration Department's decision and would stay in the country with his family. He also said he was obliged "to facilitate a smooth transfer of power".
Later on Saturday, Najib told a press conference that he was stepping down as president of the United Mala National Organization and assuming as chairman of the National Front coalition responsibility for the electoral debacle on Wednesday. The announcement came after strong voices from UMNO, the linchpin of the coalition, raised Najib's resignation.
Najib, 64, said his deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, becomes UMNO president.
The open-hearted judgment of the people, "said Najib," Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to remedy our weaknesses and shortcomings, although these are more a matter of perception than of reality. God willing, UMNO will live on.
The National Front, which ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain, won only 79 of the 222 seats in parliament and lost power to Mahathir's four-party alliance in the midst of public anger over the 1MDB scandal and rising cost of living.
It was a notable comeback for 92-year-old Mahathir, who was Prime Minister for 22 years until his retirement for 22 years, upset with the 1MDB scandal, Mahathir had teamed up with former enemies, including caged opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim, for Najib Mahathir said Malaysia's king had agreed to pardon Anwar, who had been arrested for sodomy in 2015 because he said he was politically motivated. "Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah told the Associated Press that her father, whose sentence was filed on 8 March June ends, being released on Tuesday.
On Saturday, Mahathir Lim appointed Guan Eng, an ethnic Chine Senate, the Minister of Finance, the first ethnic minority he has been appointed to a mighty post in 44 years.
Since 1974, the Minister of Finance has been a Muslim Malay. The appointment of Lim, a chartered accountant who led the affluent north of Penang since 2008, reflects the reforms promised by Mahathir's alliance to combat racial divisions in the country due to decades of preferential policies.
Mahathir also became former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as Home Secretary and Mohamad Sabu as Secretary of Defense. All three appointees are party leaders in his alliance.
Mahathir said he will call the rest of his 25-member Cabinet next week.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.