Mahathir orders overseas travel ban on Najib
LEAKED FLIGHT MANIFEST OF OUSTED PM LEADS TO PUBLIC FURORE; PREMIER NAMES THREE KEY CABINET MEMBERS
MALAYSIA’S newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday he had ordered the travel ban on ousted premier Najib Razak and his wife.
“It is true that I prevented Najib from leaving the country ... he and his wife,” he told a press conference.
The PM named three key members of his Cabinet which will consist of only 10 core ministries, as he prepares to run the country with a streamlined administration, according to The Star.
Najib, who lost the poll to Mahathir, 92, faced an overseas travel ban imposed by Malaysian immigration authorities as speculation mounted he was about to flee the country due to a possible prosecution over a multi-billion-dollar scandal, said AFP.
Regarding the new Mahathir Cabinet, it was reported that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Muhyiddin Yassin would be named the home minister, while DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng will be finance minister and Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu the defence minister.
Mahathir also said that the government would set up a “council of elders”. This will consist of former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, former Bank Negara governor Zeti Aziz, former Petronas CEO Hassan Merican, Hong Kong-based Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, and economics expert Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, according to The Star. On ex-premier Najib, AFP reported that an angry crowd had gathered at a Kuala Lumpur airport, shouting at vehicles and seeking to stop them entering, after a purported flight itinerary leaked online showed Najib and his unpopular wife were planning to head to Indonesia.
Later yesterday, Najib – who has been under growing pressure from inside his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition since the landslide loss – announced he was quitting as head of BN as well as its main party.
The coalition’s defeat in the election at the hands of an alliance led by his one-time mentor Mahathir Mohamad amounted to a political earthquake, which toppled an increasingly authoritarian regime that had ruled the country for six decades.
Speculation had been mounting that Najib, who has been embroiled in a massive scandal related to state fund 1MDB, might try to flee the country as Mahathir has pledged to investigate the controversy.
As an image of the leaked manifest for a flight to Jakarta spread like wildfire online, Najib insisted in social media posts he was planning only a “short break” overseas to rest after the election and would be back next week.
But anger quickly mounted among social media users who accused the defeated leader of seeking to flee, and the immigration department swiftly announced both he and his wife Rosmah Mansor were banned from leaving Malaysia.
“The immigration department has just now blacklisted Najib and Rosmah from leaving the country,” Mustafar Ali, director-general of the department, told AFP.
Najib said in a tweet he had been informed of the move. “I respect the decision and I will remain in the country with my family,” he said.