Najib not giving in to pressure to quit (The Straits Times)

He tells supporters he will not resign just because one person demands it

MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Najib Razak has dismissed attempts to “poison” his roots in his home state of Pahang, telling his supporters there that he will not quit just because one person has demanded it.

His most trenchant critic, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, launching the latest salvo, wants the police to investigate him for “lying” to Parliament about the status of funds held by debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in Singapore.

“Something serious is happening. Money owed by a government-owned company, of which RM7 billion (S$2.6 billion) is guaranteed by the government, can no longer be traced and attempts are made to lie to Parliament and the country,” Tun Dr Mahathir wrote in his personal blog yesterday.

Any “cover-up” in government affairs was an offence under the law, he said, adding that Datuk Seri Najib as well as government officials, Bank Negara and 1MDB should be investigated under Section 218 of the Penal Code.

Under this section, a public servant found guilty of falsifying records to save a person from punishment or a property from forfeiture could face up to three years in jail.

In March, Mr Najib had said in a written reply to opposition MP Tony Pua that the investment 1MDB had redeemed from its offshore account in the Cayman Islands was held in a bank in Singapore in the form of cash.

But last week, he clarified that the redemption was not in cash but in assets.

Mr Najib is also Finance Minister and chief adviser of 1MDB, which is wholly owned by the Finance Ministry.

The state investment agency has been mired in controversy since it was revealed that it had racked up RM42 billion in debt, over a third of which is guaranteed by taxpayers.

A close associate of Mr Najib allegedly siphoned off close to RM4 billion from 1MDB.

A video leaked online last week showed Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin calling for the 1MDB board to be sacked. He insisted that what he told delegates at a closed-door Umno meeting was his opinion.

Mr Najib has been visiting key Malaysian states to shore up support. He visited Perak and Pahang last Saturday. Before that, he had gone to Sabah and Johor, the stronghold of Tan Sri Muhyiddin.

“There were plenty of problems even in the past, during Dr Mahathir’s time. I was his soldier (and) I defended him. Now, you will be my soldiers and defend me,” Mr Najib said at Kuantan Air Force Base last Saturday.

Political analyst Azizuddin Mohd Sani said Mr Najib is trying to show the Umno division chiefs that he still has the support of the people.

“Mr Najib needs this because Dr Mahathir is doing the same thing and giving talks in different states. It will be very difficult to bring these two leaders together as the attacks have been very personal.”

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng noted that Mr Najib, being the incumbent, has many resources to thwart attempts to topple him. “As president of Umno, there are many buttons Mr Najib can press and resources he can tap. Never in the history of Umno has its president been toppled, except through resignation.”

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