How Najib almost got away with RM100m mansion, land the size of two soccer fields

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Malaysia is perhaps the only country in the world that rewards a crooked ex-premier to the tune of RM100 million, money that belongs to taxpayers.

After stealing tens of billions of dollars, former Prime Minister Najib Razak is being awarded a gift worth a whopping RM100 million. The best part is, he has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined RM210 million after being found guilty of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust (CBT), and money laundering – involving RM42 million stolen from SRC International Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of 1MDB).

Exactly how could a crook like Najib be given a plot of exclusive land measuring some 120,000-sq-ft (worth RM60 million) with a house (worth RM40 million) to be built by the government after plundering so much money? Malaysia is perhaps the only country in the world that rewards a crooked ex-premier to the tune of RM100 million, money that belongs to taxpayers.

It’s hard to find a new affordable condominium with a built-up area of 1,200 sq ft. The size of the land rewarded to Najib would be as huge as 100 units of such condominiums. The plot of land would be about two soccer fields, not to mention it’s a premium land in a strategic location – Bukit Petaling, Kuala Lumpur. Had it not been exposed, Najib would be at least RM100 million richer.

MalaysiaNow via Finance Twitter

The flabbergasting news was only exposed after Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul was grilled during his Budget 2022 speech. And the man who exposed the unbelievable rewards was none other than former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who was also responsible for toppling Najib administration in the 2018 General Election, delivering the first defeat to the regime that had ruled since independence in 1957.

Finance Minister Zafrul, caught with his pants down, had tried to divert queries regarding the explosive issue to the PMO (Prime Minister Office), even though he confirmed in Parliament that the Cabinet has received, discussed and was even considering Najib’s application for the plot of land. Apparently, the RM100 million worth of expenditure was not shown in Budget 2022.

Zafrul initially claimed the process to award Najib the land was not finalised, hence the expenditure of RM100 million did not appear in the budget. In fact, the finance minister said Najib’s application only appeared after the Budget 2022 speech was presented – suggesting that the application was only made after Oct 29 this year.

However, Najib revealed that his application was made in 2018, after the 14th General Election. The conflicting claim on the exact date of the controversial application for the land clearly indicates someone was lying. Today, however, de-facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi admitted that the Cabinet had in principle agreed to grant Najib’s request.

Najib conveniently argued that his request for the RM100 million land and mansion was absolutely legal and was part of his entitlement as a former prime minister. He had simply revoked his “special privilege” under the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act and Former Prime Minister’s Remuneration Schedule – a law made just five months before the end of Mahathir’s first term as prime minister in 2003.

Surprisingly, in his latest twist, Najib said on Friday (Nov 19) that he will withdraw his request for the residence from the government. The crook shamelessly told a press conference that he had “made a decision to reject the offer”. But how could he “reject” something that has not been approved in the first place? The drama queen also offered a sobbing story.

He said – “I realize and understand that while the people are facing tough times, the nation’s priority is the people. As this issue has created an uncomfortable atmosphere, I suggested to the prime minister to look into it and withdraw the allocation”. He said that he did not want his controversial request for the real estate to become an issue during the Melaka election campaign.

Obviously, it was an afterthought that Najib reluctantly dropped his demand for the RM100 million free gifts. In truth, the ex-PM initiated his special privilege after his fall from power but was not entertained by the Pakatan Harapan government led by Mahathir. In 2020, just months before he was found guilty of corruption, the corrupt leader re-applied again for the real estate.

Under backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin, his request was again not entertained. However, after Muhyiddin Yassin, the traitor who had betrayed his own allies in the Pakatan Harapan government only to be backstabbed and betrayed by Najib Razak and Zahid Hamidi, was forced to resign in August this year, Najib’s application was fast-tracked for approval under Ismail Sabri government.

Finance Twitter

For Najib, a man so calculative that he knew precisely when a piece of chocolate was missing from his fridge, to say he did not know the value of the land and house is laughable. After all, it was Najib who approved a plot of land in Kuala Lumpur and RM10 million to build a home for ex-PM Abdullah Badawi, his predecessor whom he had forced to resign in 2009 after a disastrous result in the 2008 General Election.

Besides, if indeed Najib deserves the RM100 million properties as he claimed due to his outstanding leadership and contributions to the country, he should not give up his rights so easily. Mahathir actually did not question the entitlement to a former prime minister, but whether a “convicted” former prime minister who has been sent to jail should be granted such right.

In the same breath, Junaidi’s remark today that the Cabinet has decided to establish a committee to “review the proposed guidelines” for the provision of land and residential houses for former prime ministers was also an afterthought “damage control” statement. Had the issue not been exposed, would the Sabri administration review the ridiculous reward system?

Najib knew that the current priority is to win the Melaka state election, after which he could lead his United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party in the 15th General Election, a victory of which would return him as the powerful prime minister again. He would then be able to plunder again. So, his withdrawal for the RM100 million worth of real estate was a calculated move.

The 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal still has RM32.2 billion of outstanding debt (as of June 2021), excluding interests of RM7.1 billion, thanks to Najib’s scam. Therefore, RM100 million is just loose change to the billionaire, whose fortune derived from stealing the national coffer could easily rival his mentor-turn-nemesis Mahathir’s wealth.

It was only after public uproars that Najib pretended to be a caring leader who understood the hardship and tough times faced by the people. Was he trying to say people were not having any problem putting food on the table from 2018 to 2020, therefore it was alright for him to claim the RM100m worth of real estate, despite having stolen billions from the people?

It’s also worth noting that just because the disgraced crook has withdrawn his request now, it does not mean he cannot re-submit his request again at a later stage, probably after the Melaka state election or the 15th nationwide election. It was not a cancellation, mind you, but merely a postponement for the juicy land. The fact that he made multiple applications for the land shows he really wanted the property.

According to a reliable source quoted by MalaysiaNow, Najib had even made site visits to the land located in the exclusive neighbourhood before officially submitting his request again to the Prime Minister Office early this year, at a time when he was actively attacking the incompetent backdoor Muhyiddin regime of ignoring the welfare of Malaysians affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

If Najib was not greedy, he could have settled for a monthly rental allowance of RM10,000 by choosing to remain in his current Taman Duta bungalow. Alternatively, he could choose to live in a house provided by the government, complete with amenities. There was an option of a bungalow on a site worth RM45 million. Instead, he deliberately chose the most expensive land option.

However, the issue isn’t just about Najib alone. Neither PM Sabri nor former PM Muhyiddin, whose Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu) leads the largest coalition – Perikatan Nasional – in the government, has publicly condemned the convicted premier’s application. It means Muhyiddin, who claims to be anti-kleptocrat, has quietly approved to give away RM100 million to the crook.

It also means the lame-duck PM Ismail Sabri, the UMNO vice-president who is actively promoting his dubious “Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family)” propaganda, was a pathetic leader who obediently rewards the crooked family of Najib with a prime land and a mansion when the average people, especially the Malay folks, are struggling for a basic shelter called home. – Finance Twitter