PETALING JAYA: Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia today issued a rare rebuke of Najib Razak, urging the former leader to apologise to party members for repeatedly lying about the source of the millions of dollars he received in his bank account.
“Najib must apologise to all Umno members because it is this lie that has actually wiped out the people’s confidence in the Barisan Nasional leadership, ultimately leading to the party’s defeat,” the paper wrote under the “Awang Selamat” pseudonym which represents its editorial voice.
Najib, who is facing multiple charges related to money laundering and corruption, has maintained that some US$700 million he received in 2013 – money that has come to be known as the RM2.6 billion transaction found in his private bank account – was a donation by the Saudi royal family to finance Umno’s general election campaign in that year.
“This has led to Malaysians, Umno members particularly, feeling cheated as all this while they accepted his explanation that the money was a donation from the Saudi government,” said Utusan, in a first hard-hitting commentary against Najib since his fall from grace in the May elections.
The paper said it did not make sense that the former prime minister did not know the original source of the money in the wake of revelations showing it was from Tanore Finance Corporation.
“What is more illogical is that Najib had never taken the initiative to show his gratitude to the Saudi government or to King Abdullah directly if the big sum was indeed a donation from them,” it said, adding that Najib’s “lies” were finally exposed during his recent interview with Al-Jazeera.
“Not all thieves are liars but those who lie are usually thieves,” the paper said.
In the Al Jazeera interview aired on Oct 27, Najib said that he had no details of the source of the “donation”.
“So when I received the funds, in all honesty, I thought it was a genuine donation and at that particular time, the knowledge that I had was based on a conversation with King Abdullah,” he had said.