SUPPORTERS of embattled former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have raised some RM500,000 (US$125,000) in donations to help pay for his bail after the leader was slapped with multiple charges of graft and abuse of power.
The donations on Monday allowed Najib to settle the remaining RM500,000 of the RM1 million bail set by the high court through the donations raised funds, the Straits Times reported.
Earlier, Mohd Razlan Mohamad Rafii, a spokesman for the Solidarity with Datuk Najib group said members of the public had contributed RM490,000 (US$122,500) to the fund.
“We have about RM402,000 in our account at the moment and I also have about RM88,000 (US$22,000) cash which we will hand over to him,” he said. The donations, he said, would hopefully provide financial and moral support for Najib.
“Not only did we have donations come in from all over Malaysia but there were also donations from Singapore, Indonesia and Canada,” he said.
In presenting some of the proceeds, Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid, the daughter of Najib’s former deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said she had donated for Najib’s bail in the name of “humanity and justice”, similar to what she did for Anwar Ibrahim, one of Najib’s biggest opponents.
“Today, on grounds of humanity, I came to Najib’s home to give our contributions,” she said, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today.
I hope it helps to ease the burden his family is facing”
Najib, who lost power in a shock election defeat in May, was arrested and charged in connection with suspicious transactions at SRC International, a former unit of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund. Najib, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing regarding 1MDB and SRC, on Wednesday pleaded not guilty.
Late last week, Najib filed lawsuits against top investigators probing a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB, as he looks to clamp down on public criticism over his alleged role in the case.
In a legal counterattack, Najib is suing three top officials involved in the investigation into the fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
In three civil filings made last week but only made available to Reuters on Wednesday, Najib’s lawyers alleged that anti-graft chief Mohd Shukri Abdull, police commercial crimes head Amar Singh and Attorney General Tommy Thomas were prejudiced against him over the course of their investigations.
Badrul Abdullah, who leads one of two Malaysian legal firms representing Najib, said the applications were based on past statements made by the three individuals.
“We are seeking a court decision on whether there is an element of conflict of interest among the individuals handling the case,” Badrul told Reuters.
Badrul said his client is seeking costs and any further order and relief deemed fit by the court.
Court records show the three applications were filed on June 30, and name Najib, who held power for about 10 years, as the applicant.
Lawyers for Najib and the respondents are scheduled to meet with two judges for separate pre-trial hearings on July 16.
In May, Shukri said a 2015 investigation into 1MDB was suppressed, while Singh has led police seizures of nearly US$275 million worth of luxury goods from premises linked to Najib’s family.
Thomas is the lead prosecutor who on Wednesday charged Najib with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one for abuse of power, related to RM42 million ringgit (US$10.39 million) allegedly transferred into his account from SRC.
Najib and his family have come under intense public scrutiny over the past two months since he lost the election to his former mentor-turned-foe, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who reopened domestic probes into 1MDB as one of his first acts as prime minister.
Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have since been barred from leaving the country. The Malaysian authorities have questioned the couple and Najib’s stepson and frozen hundreds of bank accounts suspected to have received money from the state fund.
On Wednesday, the high court granted a temporary gag order barring any discussion of the merits of the SRC case from being published.
Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is Najib’s lead counsel in the case, argued that his client has faced a “trial by media” even before the case was presented in court.
“If it’s only the media, then perhaps it is something else. But it’s coming from ministers…condemning my client and virtually hanging him for it, and that’s not on,” Muhammad Shafee told the court on Wednesday. “It is not going to be a fair trial if this continues.”
Thomas said the prosecution will “object strenuously” to the gag order as it was unfair to keep Malaysian people in the dark about developments in the case, especially given the coverage in media outside the country.
The 1MDB scandal has been raging since 2015, but only now is it being freely discussed by mainstream media in Malaysia, which was tightly controlled during Najib’s premiership.
The nation was gripped by regular live streams by local news portals, broadcasting developments of Najib’s case from the time police raided his family’s residences to his court appearance.
Dr. Mahathir and some of his cabinet have been outspoken about the case. Najib has said he is a victim of “political vengeance”.
Additional reporting by Reuters.