DoJ suit an American political ploy, says Nazri

Sheridan Mahavera

Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz says the United States' Department of Justice suit against Najib was borne out of jealousy. — The Malaysian Insight pic by Najjua Zulkefli, April 7, 2017

IT was all a political ploy meant to destabilise Malaysia, says senior Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz on the United States civil suit against 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Nazri, a former law minister, believes there is no evidence linking Prime Minister Najib Razak, whom he calls his “good friend”, to the suit or the term “Malaysian Official No.1” (MO1).

This is despite the fact that his Cabinet colleague Abdul Rahman Dahlan had admitted in July last year that MO1 referred to Najib.

Nazri also defended the RM2.6 billion donation from a Saudi royal to fund the Barisan Nasional election campaign of 2013, saying Saudi had an interest in keeping Najib in power.

Nazri said  the US was bent on undermining Malaysia through the DoJ suit even though the US president at the time, Barack Obama, enjoyed warm relations with Najib.

Both had played a friendly game of golf in 2014, while Obama had visited Malaysia twice during his tenure.

In an interview with The Malaysian Insight on the sidelines of the Dewan Rakyat sitting, Nazri said these were the points that he would have made if the debate with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had taken place tomorrow.

Dr Mahathir, who is now chairman of opposition party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, was scheduled to debate Nazri but the police barred the event from taking place.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

Q: If Dr Mahathir had asked you during the debate on the suit by the Department of Justice, what would be your response?

A: First of all, the DoJ suit is filled with charges but it has not gone to trial in an open court. It has not been heard and there has not been a decision.

For instance, I file something against you, alleging that you owe me RM1 million. And then I make this public. Does that mean you are guilty?

I am just alleging. There is no hearing yet. It has to go to open court, the judge has to decide. Only then will it be an offence, if the court finds him guilty. It’s only at this stage. So how can Najib be guilty?

No. 2, if the DoJ is cocksure of Najib’s guilt, why didn’t they name Najib straight away? Why put only Malaysian Official No. 1. The other defendants were named. Put la Najib’s name, straight away.

They don’t dare do this because there is no evidence against Najib. Because had they named Najib Razak, who is a sitting prime minister, Najib could have sued them for billions.

So already there is mala fide there because they put MO1. Bad faith to tie Najib to something which they do not have evidence. I am very sure if they had evidence they would have named Najib Razak.

Q: What about the allegation that the money went into MO1’s accounts?

A: Forget about the allegation. We want to talk about MO1, why should Najib reply. MO1 is not him. MO1 is not Najib. If I was him also I would not answer.

You want Najib Razak to reply, you must name Najib Razak.

My third reason, the A-G who filed the suit has already left after President Donald Trump came into power. The deputy has also been sacked by Trump. So what’s left? It will never go anywhere.

To me it was a political agenda and they wanted to embarrass Najib. That is all. That is DoJ.

Q: Why would they want to embarrass Najib?

A: I don’t know, you ask them.

Q: Obama was supposedly quite close to Najib, the two played golf together.

A: It means nothing. I can be playing golf.

Q: But this is Obama’s A-G (who filed the suit)?

A: But you should know there is no interference in the US (between the A-G and the executive).

Q: Coming back to MO1 who was not named in the suit. Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan admitted that MO1 referred to Najib.

A: Who is Rahman Dahlan? Is he Najib’s lawyer? Anyone can say that. Najib did not say it is him. I’m sure Rahman Dahlan and Najib are two different people. His admission is not Najib’s guilt.

Q: So why did Rahman Dahlan say it’s Najib?

A: You ask him.

Q: Rahman Dahlan was BN communications director at the time (he identified Najib as MO1)?

A: So what? When did Najib appoint Rahman as his lawyer? You ask him why did he say that.

Q: As a former law minister, do you think it is morally wrong for a prime minister to accept this much money in his personal accounts?

A: There is nothing wrong, even morally, for the money going into his personal accounts. But the source is the issue. If it is black money or proceeds from a corruption act.

It has never been an offence for money to go into personal accounts.

Q: In the 2009 MACC Act, there is a section that says a public officer receives money or gift there is a presumption of guilt. So that is why we want to know. Where is the money from. Is it black money or proceeds of a corrupt act? Both answers are negative.

A. The source of money is a donation from a Saudi prince. So this is clear. This is validated by the Saudi foreign minister. It is further validated when the Saudi King came to visit the country recently.

It has never been an offence in the country to seek donations. It’s not an offence. You don’t have to tell the police.

Q: And the money came with strings attached?

A: You have to ask yourself what reason would the Saudi royal have to bribe us until they gave us RM2.6 billion? Why should the Saudis bribe us? I think we should bribe them over the haj quota.

They are one of the richest countries in the world, they have an income of trillions per day from oil. What project do they need from us? They are a very, very, very rich country. We need more things from them.

The common sense is that we should be bribing them. I don’t think there are strings attached.

Q: So what was the donation for?

A: For the general election. Everyone knows that. It is a fact. As chairman of Barisan Nasional, it is compulsory for him to bring up money because you have to spend.

You calculate, we contest in 222 parliamentary seats and 505 state legislature seats.

(Nazri’s officers take out handphones to calculate the amounts.)

For each parliament seat, we need RM10,000 as a deposit to the Election Commission to put up candidate. For a state seat, its RM5,000. Then there is RM200,000 of campaigning funds for each parliamentary seat.

So you multiply all this. It’s about 99.26 million. This is what the BN chairman has to find for the elections. As BN chairman, it is his responsibility to find this money.

Najib is very honest, he found donations and got RM2.6 billion. And put into his accounts. RM100 million he uses for the elections. The rest, before the elections we received money from Najib, every Umno branch got money to repair up to five houses, at RM5,000 per house.

There are about 25,000 Umno branches nationwide. So that comes to RM625 million for these houses.

Every Umno division leader received this money, including (former deputy president) Muhyiddin Yassin and (ex-vice-president) Shafie Apdal.

So the total funds for the elections were about RM724 million.

Q: Ok. But Najib received RM2.6 billion? What happened to the rest?

A: He gave the rest back, remember? He gave back about RM2 billion. Had Najib taken cash, we would not have known how much he collected, how much he spent and how much he gave back.

But because he is honest, it went into his personal account so that everyone knew. Because he is honest, it went into his accounts.

Q: So to recap, you still say it was better for the money to be put into his accounts?

A: Yes. It was never meant for Umno. It was meant for BN, for BN to win the elections.

Why did they want us to win? They want us to win because we are in such friendly terms with them (Saudi Arabia). We are a friendly Sunni country that backs Saudi Arabia strongly. So they are very happy with Malaysia as a brotherly country that is being led by Najib. You can see the relations are close.

They want Malaysia to be led by Najib to guarantee that it is a friendly nation. And we never had differences with Saudi, we have always been a loyal friend of Saudi.

And if it is being led by Najib, they can be assured that Malaysia will always be a friendly country. That is their interest. And having interests in other countries is not new and unknown.

America does the same thing. That’s normal. Especially since Malaysia’s stand against Israel is very strong.

Q: There is also the allegation that the RM2.6 billion came from the Saudi royal. But the money that went to that Saudi royal ultimately came from funds siphoned off from 1MDB.

A: Prove this. We cannot be replying to these allegations with no facts. These allegations are cheap.

Q: These allegations came from the Wall Street Journal.

A: Wall Street Journal? You can’t trust them. Just like the DoJ. Wall Street is the biggest crook. You cannot set what is written by Wall Street as true facts. You have to show facts, not mere allegations.

I trust the Saudi royals more than the Wall Street Journal. The guy has admitted to this. So what are we to say? Is that not good enough? The Saudi king has also visited us. So why believe Wall Street any more?

Q: So you believe the DoJ suit is a political ploy?

A: Because American politicians have very negative views of what is going on in Malaysia. Even during Tun’s time they put up (former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim) Anwar to fight Mahathir. It is has been inherent for the longest time.

Probably because we are the only country in the world where the population is multiracial and the leadership is Muslim and the country is at peace and doing very well. And they think a Muslim country should not be like that.

You talk about a Muslim country, it has to be a dictatorship, poor, corrupt and riots. So Malaysia is bucking the trend and we are the worst enemy of Israel.

Q: But during Obama’s time, he visited Malaysia twice. Najib has good relations with him.

A: I am talking about the American general perception. American politicians. One politician does not change everything.

Q: So you are saying that even though Obama was close with Najib, it doesn’t reflect their intentions?

A: Yes. Even during Dr Mahathir’s time they didn’t like us, they used Anwar to fight us. They wanted to undermine us.

It’s only good chemistry between two individuals (Obama and Najib). They are genuine, Obama likes Najib. But that’s it.

Q: So you’re saying that despite these warm relations, the American political system wants to undermine us through this suit?

A: Yes, it is not new. Yes, because we are bucking the trend. We are multiracial and multicultural and yet the leadership is Muslim. So they cannot accept this. Because to them a Muslim country must be poor, corrupt, discriminatory to minorities.

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  • US AG is not the same as your apandi AG. This baboon thinks he's smart.. You can fools Umno people but not all Malaysian..

    Posted 7 years ago by Ali Along · Reply