Former M'sia prime minister Muhyiddin to be charged with corruption

Muhyiddin was met at MACC headquarters by about 100 stories and several PN politicians.

Tan Min-Wei | March 09, 2023, 04:25 PM

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This story has been updated to reflect Muhyiddin Yassin's arrest.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commision (MACC) confirmed with Malaysian press that former Prime Minister, and leader of the largest opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) Muhyiddin Yassin, will be charged with corruption on Mar. 10.

Muhyiddin to be charged

As reported by the Reuters, MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki confirmed on Mar. 9 that Muhyiddin will be charged with corruption-related offences the next day.

Muhyiddin and his party Bersatu, a major component party of PN along with Parti Islam-Se-Malaysia (PAS), have been under investigation by MACC for months.

Reuters said that Muhyiddin and Bersatu have been facing graft investigations since current Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim ordered a review in December 2022 into billions of dollars worth of government projects approved by Muhyiddin during his tenure as prime minister.

Anwar alleged that these projects did not follow proper procedures, which Muhyiddin denied, claiming it is part of a political vendetta.

Jana Wibawa scheme

These projects have been named as the Jana Wibawa scheme by the New Straits Times.

The scheme was introduced by Muhyiddin to quickly implement projects and aid the Malaysian economy during the pandemic period and beyond.

NST also reports that the scheme was intended to increase the capacity of "Bumiputera/Malay contractors in the construction industry to be more competitive".

Muhyiddin confirmed on Mar. 8 that he had been summoned to MACC headquarters in order to answer questions related to the investigation.

MalaysiaKini reported that when the former PM arrived at around 11am on Mar. 9, he was greeted by a crowd of about 100  supporters, as well as other PN politicians such as Azmin Ali.

The supports chanted slogans such as "Long live Muhyiddin" as he was entering the MACC headquarters.

Bersatu's information chief, Razali Idris, called the summoning of Muhyiddin just before the party's general assembly as "inhumane".

Frozen accounts and travel bans

On Feb. 1, MACC chief Baki confirmed that two of Bersatu's party accounts had been frozen two weeks earlier, in order to facilitate investigations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act, according to the Malay Mail.

On Feb. 21, Bersatu's former information chief, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, claimed trial for charges, including allegedly attempting to solicit almost RM7 million (S$2.13 million) in bribes in relation to the Jana Wibawa aid scheme.

On Mar. 2, the Malay Mail reported that Bersatu treasurer Mohd Salleh Bajuri had been been remanded as part of a MACC probe of alleged  irregularities in the use of pandemic funds amounting to RM600 billion (S$180 billion).

On Mar. 8, reports had circulated that Muhyiddin had been arrested while playing golf.

The Star reports that this was swiftly denied by Muhyiddin who said that he had been attending meetings related to the Bersatu general assembly, scheduled for Mar. 10.

Travel ban

The Star also reported that Muhyiddin is currently subject to a travel ban, something that the former PM's lawyers are fighting in court.

According to his support affidavit, Muhyiddin only found out about the travel ban on Mar. 5 because of a check on Malaysia's immigration department's website, and had not received an official notice, nor a reason.

Free Malaysia Today reported that Bersatu is also challenging the travel ban, alleging that the ban was imposed because Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is worried about what Muhyiddin might say in international forums.

Bersatu also claimed that the ban was ultimately aimed at damaging Muhyiddin's reputation by making it seem like he was attempting to flee justice.

Investigation is not politically motivated: Anwar

Meanwhile Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is also Malaysia's Finance Minister, has rejected allegations that the investigation is politically motivated.

According to Bernama, Anwar pushed back by saying that he had simply instructed the various agencies to investigate the cases, but did not know where the case was going until now.

He said that to "say that there is a political motive behind this and that other big cases will be off the hook is not right."

He also said that the documents related to the Jana Wibawa case were based on documents obtained by the Finance Ministry.

Update: Muhyiddin arrested

Late on Mar.9, the Malay Mail reported that the MACC had arrested Muhyiddin at 1pm on Mar. 9 after being questioned on alleged corruption.

“MACC has obtained the consent from the Attorney-General’s Chambers to prosecute Muhyiddin at the Kuala Lumpur Court on March 10.

“He is set to face several charges under Section 23 of the MACC Act and Section 4(1)b of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.”

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Top image via 刘华才博士/Facebook