Najib sought 'Cabinet consensus on 1MDB issue' (The Straits Times)

KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Najib Razak has reportedly told his fellow ministers to resign from the Cabinet if they disagreed with his stand on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

However, according to an Utusan Malaysia report yesterday, none of the ministers challenged the Prime Minister on 1MDB during a Cabinet meeting last Friday, despite being given the opportunity.

“The Prime Minister asked any Cabinet member who was not with him on the 1MDB issue to resign, but not a single person did so,” an unnamed Cabinet source was cited by Utusan Malaysia as saying.

But Culture and Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that Mr Najib did not give any ultimatum, noting that Mr Najib just wanted consensus from his Cabinet members.

“PM said this at the meeting: ‘If somehow, some of you feel uncomfortable with this, please hand in or write (your resignation), and I will understand’,” Datuk Seri Nazri said. “If you were there, you would not feel like it was an ultimatum.”

Datuk Seri Najib was said to have made the remarks after Second Finance Minister Husni Hanadzlah laid out the road map for 1MDB’s restructuring at the meeting.

Datuk Seri Husni, who has been made the government’s spokesman for 1MDB, said last Friday that the company had entered into an agreement with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) and its subsidiary, Aabar Investments, in which Ipic will provide 1MDB with US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) on or before June 4. 1MDB will use the money to repay a US$975 million loan.

Mr Husni said that Ipic’s injection was part of a “rationalisation” plan for 1MDB, which had racked up RM42 billion (S$15.5 billion) in debt.

The Malay Mail Online noted that Mr Najib’s remarks followed calls from several veteran Umno leaders, including Tan Sri Shahrir Samad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who had urged ministers to take collective responsibility for the 1MDB problems. Mr Shahrir, who is chairman of the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club, last Tuesday called on ministers who disagreed with the Cabinet’s decision on 1MDB to resign.