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Malaysia's corruption scandal-hit PM sacks party critics

by June 24, 2016 General

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak sacked two senior party members on Friday for ‘demonising’ his leadership, one of his top officials said.

Najib’s ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) unanimously decided to expel former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad, according to Abdul Rahman Dahlan, a senior party official.

“The duo was sacked for demonising the UMNO leadership,” Abdul Rahman told AFP and added that the decision was made at a party meeting chaired by Najib. Muhyiddin, who was removed last July, has been waging a public campaign along with Mukhriz criticising Najib over allegations of abuse of public funds by state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mukhriz was forced to quit as the chief minister of the northern Kedah state in February. Both were previously suspended from the party. Shafie Apdal, a former cabinet minister, who was dismissed last year for colluding with Muhyiddin, has also been suspended, local media said.

Muhyiddin had repeatedly lent weight to mounting public calls for Najib to answer allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars of 1MDB had gone missing in complex overseas transactions that have never been fully explained while both 1MDB and Najib vehemently deny any wrongdoing. A Malaysian parliamentary committee in April said that at least $4.2 billion, in questionable, overseas money transfers were made by 1MDB.

Najib was plunged into the crisis last year when it was revealed that $681 million in transfers were made to his personal bank accounts in 2013 to which he claims were ‘personal donations’ from the Saudi royal family. In May, Swiss financial regulators approved the dissolution of Switzerland-based BSI Bank over ‘serious breaches’ of money-laundering regulations in its dealings with 1MDB.

Najib, facing calls to resign, tightened his grip on the ruling party and thwarted domestic investigations. His position is not seen under an imminent threat. Authorities in a half-dozen countries are investigating 1MDB money movements while Switzerland and Singapore have frozen millions of dollars in assets.