After withdrawing his request for housing and a piece of land, estimated to be worth RM100 million (S$32.52 million), Malaysia's former prime minister, Najib Razak, now suggests that the property should be sold.
The 68-year-old aired his thoughts under a Facebook post, in which he urged Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz to increase the limit on pension fund withdrawals for Malaysians affected by Covid-19 Movement Control Orders (MCO).
"I have withdrawn my application for the right to the housing entitlement, as per the government act. My decision is final.", he wrote on Facebook on Nov. 21.
He suggested the finance minister should sell the land and the house if it was "really worth RM100 million (S$32.53 million)".
The politician added that the money can be used to set up a "special fund", and be given out as loans without any interest or service fees.
Najib suggested that the beneficiaries could be those who have requested to increase their pension fund withdrawal amount from the current RM5,000 (S$1,627) to RM10,000 (S$3254), supposedly benefiting 20,000 individuals.
2.8-acres residential property in Kuala Lumpur
Previously, MalaysiaNow reported on Nov. 12 that Najib had requested for a 2.8-acre residential property in Kuala Lumpur's luxurious neighbourhood, Bukit Petaling, after invoking an act that entitled ex-prime ministers to allowances and privileges decided by the cabinet.
According to the media outlet, the news was based on a "highly placed source in UMNO (United Malays National Organisation)".
On Nov. 18, Najib labelled the outlet as "pro-Perikatan Nasional (a rival coalition made up of Bersatu, PAS and other parties)", and appeared to insinuate that it was trying to sway voters ahead of the Melaka state polls.
Announced decision to withdraw request before Melaka state election
Then, on Nov. 19, Najib announced his decision to withdraw his request for the property one day before the Melaka state election, to prevent the matter from swaying the state election, Malay Mail reported.
He said he was "attacked and hated" even though he wasn't contesting in the election.
Claiming that he was not aware of the property's value before it was publicised, he also suggested the government to review or revoke the entitlement for past and present prime ministers, if it was a source of controversy.
Finance minister confirmed that cabinet discussed the matter
Another former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, questioned the minister of finance on Nov. 18 about Najib's request, during the latter's winding-up speech for Malaysia Budget 2022, Malaysiakini reported.
Mahathir reportedly said that Najib's request for a property was not mentioned in the budget.
Zafrul initially asked Mahathir to direct his queries to the Prime Minister's department.
However, he later acknowledged that the cabinet had discussed Najib's request, after being pressed by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, MP for Muar, Johor.
"Yes, we have received the request, and we have discussed it in the cabinet," Zafrul said, adding that the government will now wait for the decision to be made by the cabinet.
"In accordance to the law"
On the same day (Nov. 18), Najib claimed in a Facebook post that Mahathir was the one that amended the act when he was the fourth prime minister of Malaysia.
He said that his office had "merely requested for a residence after the 14th General Election in accordance to the law that was amended by him (Mahathir)".
The politician claimed that he was given three plots of land to choose from by the government, and he picked one of them.
Najib further stated that the request had already been approved by the previous government, and said he was not asking for a RM100 million gift or for the government to buy land for him.
"But I requested for a residence, similar to the ones given to other former prime ministers," he added.
Compared his office to Mahathir's
Additionally, Najib uploaded pictures of his and Mahathir's post-premiership office for comparison.
The pictures show his office, which he claims was a rented bungalow, and an aerial shot of the Perdana Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organisation that collects materials related to former Malaysian prime ministers."My office for former prime minister is just a rented bungalow at Bukit Pantai, unlike Mahathir's huge Perdana Leadership Foundation complex", he added.
However, Najib appears to insinuate that the Perdana Leadership Foundation is dedicated to Mahathir alone.
In fact, while Mahathir is the organisation's honorary president, the Foundation serves as a resource for all previous Malaysian prime ministers -- including Najib himself.
Ongoing legal proceedings
Najib was sentenced in July, 2020, to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million (S$68.1 million) for charges related to 1 Malaysia Development Berhad -- Malaysia's state development fund, and is currently appealing his sentence in court.
Subsequently, the Malaysian government failed to forfeit assets belonging to Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor, his family, and several other individuals and entities.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the suit on Nov. 8 as it deemed that the government had failed to prove that the assets were purchased using 1MDB funds.
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