KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak fears for his safety and has asked for police protection, his spokesman said on Sunday, a day after the ex-leader complained over the conduct of police searching properties for evidence of corruption.
Having ruled Malaysia for nearly 10 years, Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been barred from leaving the country after his coalition’s surprise defeat in an election on May 9.
The new government led by his mentor-turned-foe, Mahathir Mohamad, wants answers to how billions of dollars disappeared from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state fund founded by Najib.
Najib has consistently denied all allegations of wrongdoing, but his image hasn’t been helped by his wife’s reputation for lavish spending.
Before retreating to his family constituency, Najib asked for police protection, though police have been stationed outside his house for the past week and he still travels with a police escort.
The Malay Mail newspaper reported that Najib had sought witness protection from the police due to “clear threats made”.
Neither Bernama or the newspaper gave an indication on the source of any threat, and Najib’s spokesmen were unable to immediately comment on the reports when contacted by Reuters.
For the past two days, Malaysians have been avidly viewing footage of officers removing bags and boxes aired on news channels and uploaded to social media platforms.
1MDB is also the focus of the biggest anti-kleptocracy probe launched by the Department of Justice in the United States.
Peeved by their very public humiliation, Najib and his wife had their lawyers issue statements on Saturday complaining about the conduct of the police.
Rosmah’s lawyer said it risked creating a “premature public trial”, while allegations from Najib’s lawyer prompted an internal police probe into who ate the family’s chocolate.
“The cavalier and irresponsible manner in which the raid was conducted, and the seizure made is reflected by the manner in which the police personnel helped themselves to food and chocolates in the refrigerator and further demanded that the meals be prepared for them,” Najib’s lawyer, Harpal Singh Grewal, said in a statement.
In response Amar Singh, director of the police’s commercial crime investigation department, promised “stern action…if the allegations are found to be true”.