Prison turns hard for former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak: Anwar Ibrahim

Prison turns hard for former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak: Anwar Ibrahim
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The jail will be a stark contrast to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s seven-star hotel lifestyle as Malaysia begins to find “closure” from the scandal that has rocked the nation for years, Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has said.

Najib, charged with his role in embezzling billions of dollars from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, lost his appeal against his prison sentence on Monday.

Malaysia’s top court upheld his 12-year sentence, which began Tuesday at Kajang prison, south of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

“I think that’s a good start. And it is reforming and maturing Malaysia into a vibrant democracy with strong institutions,” Anwar told CNBC.Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

“Political leaders, political elites who continue to rot without them [sic] Impunity, they think they’re invincible and above the law, [but] now the message is very clear,” he said. [the people]who made the decision and that’s why we have to move on.”

A mistake refers to a fraudulent or dishonest act or scheme.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at the Putrajaya Federal Court on August 14. January 2022. The country’s highest court on Tuesday upheld his 12-year sentence, which began in Kajang prison, south of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

Mohd Rasfan | AFP | Getty Images

He urged Malaysians to vote “incorruptible”. leaders next time they go to the polls. Malaysia must hold elections by September 2023.

Najib was at the center of the scandal – which has been dubbed the biggest kleptocracy case in the world – alongside alleged fraud mastermind Malaysian businessman Jho Low and bankers at Goldman Sachs.

About $700 million was reportedly transferred to Najib’s accounts and 1MDB’s losses are said to exceed $4 billion. Najib continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Anwar himself was at the center of various political squabbles. He was the country’s deputy prime minister in the 1990s and was controversially deposed by then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before being imprisoned on sodomy and corruption charges.

His conviction was overturned and he was released in 2004. In 2014 he was jailed again for sodomy before receiving a royal pardon and being released in 2018.

Anwar said Najib had better prison terms than himself in the 1990s when he was denied books or family visits, but prison would be harsh for the former prime minister, the first in the country to be jailed.

“From what I’ve heard from my old colleagues, prison officials, he’s being treated a little better, he’s being granted some facilities,” he told CNBC.

“Even so, prison isn’t easy, it’s tough, especially compared to your current lifestyle of a seven-star hotel, you have to go through something difficult and tough.”

Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor have been accused of living a lavish lifestyle at the expense of 1MDB. Court hearings revealed they had spent thousands of dollars on expensive hotels and jewelry.

Any attempts by Najib to challenge his verdict through further reviews will be difficult, Anwar said, referring to his own failed attempts before.

Najib may also seek a pardon from the Malaysian king, but given the financial enormity of the 1MDB scandal, it could be a tough road, Anwar added.

It is important that Malaysian authorities continue to pursue justice in this scandal, including recovering funds stolen from the public purse, Anwar said when asked if others in the case, such as businessman Low and Najib’s wife Rosmah, should also be brought to justice.

In 2018, as part of the 1MDB investigation, Malaysian police raided Najib and Rosmah’s homes and seized 284 boxes of luxury handbags and 72 bags of jewellery, cash, watches and other valuables.

Anwar also said it was unlikely Najib could rally support or influence the outcome of the next election behind bars.

So far, those who supported him during his court appearance – as seen in court on Monday – have mostly come from his own constituencies, Anwar said.

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