Malaysian police to question Mahathir over rally comments
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police said Wednesday they would question former premier Mahathir Mohamad over statements he made at massive weekend rallies demanding the ousting of current Prime Minister Najib Razak over corruption allegations.
Mahathir, 90, who was Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister and still remains influential, electrified crowds at the demonstration in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday by calling for a sustained public push to topple Najib. He also accused Najib of bribing politicians in the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), to secure their support and said the premier was clinging to power to avoid corruption charges.
“We will call him (Mahathir). He has made speeches and accusations,” national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar was quoted as saying by online news outlet Malaysiakini.
“Among them, he claimed UMNO leaders had taken bribes so we want to find out more.”
The report gave no further details and it was not clear if Mahathir, who himself took a hard line against dissent during his days as prime minister, would face any charges. Najib has been under growing pressure since The Wall Street Journal revealed in early July that Malaysian investigators had found nearly $700 million in mysterious deposits into his personal bank accounts.
His government has since admitted the deposits were made, calling them “political donations” from Middle Eastern sources but refusing to give further details. Transparency International said Malaysia faced a “corruption crisis” and called for Najib to come clean. “There are two questions that need to be answered: Who paid the money and why? Where did it go? One man could answer those questions,” Jose Ugaz, global chair of Transparency International, said at a global anti-corruption conference in Malaysia on Wednesday. Ugaz also criticised disruptions to the investigations and the suspension of two Malaysian newspapers over reporting on the financial scandal.
“These are not the actions of a government that is fighting corruption,” he said.
Meanwhile, seven people from Bersih, the coalition of Malaysian NGOs and activist groups that staged the weekend demonstrations, were questioned by police on Wednesday. — AFP