Malaysian ex-premier facing investigation

Malaysian ex-premier facing investigation

Anti-graft body opens probe into Muhyiddin administration's alleged misuse of pandemic funds

Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin attends a news conference at the headquarters of his Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) party in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 24. (AFP Photo)
Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin attends a news conference at the headquarters of his Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) party in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 24. (AFP Photo)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s anti-graft agency will summon former premier Muhyiddin Yassin and two of his former cabinet ministers for questioning about alleged misappropriation of 600 billion ringgit (US$136 billion) in public funds for tackling the pandemic.

The other two are former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin and ex-finance minister Zafrul Aziz, who now heads the international trade and industry ministry in the new government, the New Straits Times reported, citing people it didn’t name. The funds for the Covid-19 pandemic included resources for vaccines, the newspaper added. 

Anti-Corruption Commission chief Azam Baki told the New Straits Times that the agency had opened an investigation. It wasn’t immediately clear when the three politicians would be summoned. 

“There have been no calls from the MACC yet,” Zafrul told reporters at a separate event. “If contacted, I will cooperate fully. We have nothing to hide.”

Aides to Muhyiddin and Khairy, as well as anti-graft agency officials did not immediately respond to requests for comments. 

News of the investigation comes as Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is reviewing projects and plans approved by past administrations in a bid to burnish his credentials as a reformist and fulfill his alliance’s election manifesto promises to fight corruption.

Anwar himself faces criticism for picking as one of his deputies the head of the former ruling coalition who faces graft charges. 

Anwar this week said the finance ministry found there was a breach of procedure in the handling of 600 billion ringgit of public funds during Muhyiddin’s time as premier. He also ordered a review of the 5G mobile services contract awarded to Ericsson last year, citing concerns about cost and transparency.

Muhyiddin was prime minister from March 2020 to August 2021, and now leads the opposition. He and Anwar fought a tight election race last month that resulted in a hung parliament and set off a contest to drum up support from several coalitions to form government.

Anwar eventually got the consent from the country’s monarch to form government but he needs to keep several political blocs happy ahead of a confidence vote in parliament later this month.

Anwar himself called for the vote, scheduled for Dec 19, as a way of proving to opposition critics and the public that he has the support to govern.


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