Written by Staff Writer
12 May, 2018 | 5:24 pm
REUTERS – Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Saturday (May 12) it was he who stopped his predecessor Najib Razak from leaving the country amid reports that the government was reopening investigations into a multi-billion-dollar graft scandal at a state fund he founded.
Mahathir said the new government has found “sufficient evidence” on the investigation of the graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that has plagued Najib since 2015. If necessary, rule of law will be applied, Mahathir said.
Mahathir, who led an alliance to win this week election named a former banker and a qualified chartered accountant, Lim Guan Eng, as the new finance minister. A special team including former central bank governor Zeti Akhthar Aziz and billionaire tycoon Robert Kuok will advise the government on economic and financial matters for the next 100 days.
Mahathir has accused Najib of selling out to Beijing and vows to review investment deals. China contributed roughly 20 percent of the increase in Malaysia’s foreign direct investment between 2013 and 2017. Chinese firms are leading projects like a $14 billion rail link connecting ports on the South China Sea to shipping routes off the west coast, while also investing in new shipping terminals.
Meanwhile, Razak said on Saturday (May 12) that he had resigned as president of United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) party, and chairman of the Barisan Nasional alliance, with immediate effect.
Najib’s long-ruling coalition was handed a spectacular defeat in the May 9 polls when millions of Malaysians voted in the opposition Pakatan Harapan pact led by his former mentor, Mahathir Mohamad. This is the first time Malaysia has seen a change in governments since gaining independence from the British in 1957.
Najib said his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the former deputy prime minister, would take over as the new president of UMNO, the main component of the alliance.
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