MALAYSIA’s Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday urged the country’s civil servants to be mindful of duties, saying they should avoid corruption and wastage as it was tantamount to taking away the rights of the people they serve.
Najib’s reminder comes in wake of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s arrest of a senior civil servant and his two sons in a corruption investigation involving yet another case of embezzled public funds amounting to millions.
“There are reminders about wastage. The actions taken by MACC recently are a reminder not to take what is the people’s rights,” Najib said during a monthly gathering in the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya, as quoted by Malay Mail Online.
“This belongs to the people. Everything we do is for the people. The projects are for the people. The value adding is for the people,” he added.
In the first big case of the year, anti-graft busters last week seized RM3 million (roughly US$668,000) in gold bars and cash found stacked at the house of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry secretary general.
The following day, the authorities uncovered another RM2 million (US$450,000) worth of items from the official’s Subang Jaya property, bringing the total seized to RM5 million (US$1.1 mil).
The case was the latest in a series of arrests for corruption that appear to have become commonplace in the country. Last year, the MACC confiscated RM200 million (US$44 million) in cash and assets, opening 982 investigation papers with 932 arrests and 258 successful prosecutions.
The premier’s reminder to the nation’s 1.6 million civil servants also comes amid allegations of his own alleged involvement in the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
The sovereign fund known as 1MDB was created in 2009 by Najib to promote economic development projects but is now currently the subject of numerous multi-agency probes across the world, as well as a civil lawsuit filed recently by the United States’ Department of Justice (DoJ).
According to U.S. prosecutors, fund officials have diverted more than US$3.5 billion through a web of shell companies and bank accounts abroad.
Despite the allegations, Najib, who chairs the fund, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the handling of 1MDB, from which nearly US$1 billion were found deposited in his personal bank accounts.
Australia is the latest country to join the probe into the scandal as the Australian Federal Police (AFP) recently opened an investigation into whether the money allegedly funneled into Najib’s account has been stashed in the country.
According to The Australian, officers from the AFP are assisting at least one of three known authorities in Switzerland, U.S. and Singapore who were looking into the 1MDB case.
Najib last year said the money, which flowed through his account at AmBank – a Malaysian associate of Australia’s ANZ – was a donation from a member of the Saudi Royal Family.
An AFP spokeswoman was quoted as saying that investigators were “evaluating” whether any Australian citizens, residents or companies had breach any laws.
“The AFP is assisting foreign law-enforcement partners in their investigations,” she said. “Given this matter is the subject of evaluation, it is not appropriate to comment further.”