KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu on Tuesday (Jan 15) denied allegations by former prime minister Najib Razak that he used an Armed Forces helicopter to help campaign in the Cameron Highlands by-election.
Earlier on Tuesday, Najib had posted several photographs on his Facebook page that went viral, linking the minister, who is also known as Mat Sabu, to the use of a military helicopter to campaign in the by-election.
One picture showed Mat Sabu emerging from a helicopter, while another captured him at the nomination centre for the Cameron Highlands by-election.
Najib also accused Mat Sabu of using an official government vehicle to travel to Cameron Highlands to support Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate M Manogaran.
The post attracted more than 11,000 likes and 900 comments.
PHOTO WAS TAKEN DURING OFFICIAL VISIT DAYS BEFORE NOMINATION: MAT SABU
Mat Sabu told Bernama on Tuesday that the photograph of him standing in front of a helicopter was taken during his official visit to an army camp in Slim, Cameron Highlands on Jan 9, three days before the nomination for the parliamentary by-election.
Mat Sabu said he had driven his own car to Cameron Highlands on Jan 12, the nomination day.
“I am surprised that a former prime minister thinks like any ordinary person when he should have checked his facts,” Mat Sabu said.
“As a former prime minister, we should have respect for him … It’s sad to see someone of that status not verifying his information.”
Mat Sabu pointed out that the people he met in the camp were not Cameron Highlands voters, but voters from Sungai Petani, Kedah.
The by-election to be held on Jan 26 will see Manogaran, who is Pahang’s Democratic Action Party deputy chairman and PH's representative, take on former senior police officer Ramli Mohd Nor, 61, from Barisan Nasional.
Former lecturer Sallehudin Ab Talib, 61, and farmer Wong Seng Yee, 40 are also in the running as independent candidates.
DEFENCE MINISTRY ISSUES STATEMENT
Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry also issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the two photographs were taken on different days.
“The first photograph, with the helicopter in the background, was of an official visit by the Defence Minister to Kem Slim, Cameron Highlands, on Wednesday, Jan 9, 2019. He returned to Kuala Lumpur on the same day,” the ministry said.
“The second one shows him at the Cameron Highlands nomination day on Saturday, Jan 12, 2019. He left for Cameron Highlands on Jan 11 by road using his personal vehicle and returned to Kuala Lumpur after the nomination.”
It added that the allegation that Mat Sabu had used an official government vehicle to campaign in Cameron Highlands recently was not true and urged people to verify their facts.