PETALING JAYA: Shock, joy and caution greeted news of Najib Razak’s arrest today, the first time a former Malaysian prime minister has been arrested to face charges which could put him years in jail.
When asked for his response, DAP’s Tony Pua was in a celebratory mood, replying on WhatsApp with a string of “party” emoticons.
Swiss whistleblower Xavier Andre Justo, who leaked documents related to 1MDB’s dealings, was elated at news of Najib’s arrest.
“It’s a great day for Malaysia and for the Malaysian people,” he told FMT when contacted.
“For the Justo family it’s not the end yet, other people that participated in this mega scam have to be sent to jail. Tarek Obaid and Patrick Mahony stole half a billion dollars of your money and sent me to jail to cover their crimes,” he said, referring to former directors of PetroSaudi International, the company linked to the 1MDB affair.
“It’s a day to celebrate but it’s not the end. Others have to be sent to jail and Malaysia has to recover the stolen money. I’m proud of being a small part in this accomplishment.
“Today we are Malaysians,” said Justo.
‘Rule of law must prevail’
Other critics of Najib were more cautious reacting to his arrest, saying it is an opportunity to show that the new government adheres to the rule of law.
One of Najib’s most vocal critics, Rafizi Ramli, was more cautious.
The former Pandan MP, who was behind a series of revelations involving the former leader, reminded authorities to ensure Najib was treated with dignity.
“I have been among his many critics. But I pray that he would be treated well as a former prime minister, and that he is treated with dignity and respect.
“I hope that he and his family are accorded justice,” said Rafizi.
Officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) picked up Najib from his home in Taman Duta, Kuala Lumpur, this afternoon.
He will be charged tomorrow over offences related to SRC International, the former subsidiary of 1MDB.
In raids over the last two months at several private properties in Kuala Lumpur, police uncovered cash, luxury goods and jewellery, with an estimated value of some RM1 billion.
Najib has maintained that the seized goods were gifts to his family during his premiership.
Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their son Riza Aziz were also summoned to answer questions from MACC investigators over allegations related to the state fund.
Echoing Rafizi, DAP lawyer Ramkarpal Singh said rule of law must prevail.
“Let the law take its course. Now that he has been arrested, it is up to MACC to properly investigate him,” he told FMT.
He said Najib must be given the right to defend himself.
He reminded MACC that the arrest was “about rule of law and not about personality”.
Ramkarpal said the authorities should now track down fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, who has been on the run from US and Malaysian authorities over allegations of siphoning of hundreds of millions of dollars from troubled state firm 1MDB.
PAS also urged authorities to ensure that principles of justice prevail in charging Najib.
The party’s secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said a person was innocent until proven guilty.
“It doesn’t matter whether an accused is a former prime minister or someone else, if prosecutors follow the law and feel someone has committed a crime, they can take action according to the law, including making arrests, remanding a person and carrying out investigations,” said the Kota Bharu MP.
Meanwhile, Najib’s former deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also hoped that the due process of the law would be followed, adding that Najib should be allowed to clear his name in the face of public opinion about him.
“Perhaps there is evidence to clear Najib, this can overcome the perception in the court of public opinion.”