KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has denied that he was being schooled by his wife Rosmah Mansor on how to run the country, as suggested by their conversation in one of the leaked audio clips released by Malaysia’s anti-graft agency.
Responding to reporters’ queries on Wednesday (Jan 8), Najib said it is the right of every citizen to have a conversation with his spouse.
“Scolding? No, no … not scolding.
“It was a conversation between my wife and me. It should be private. You too chat with your wife, don’t you? What is wrong with that?” he was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had made nine audio recordings public on Wednesday, each containing conversations believed to be between Najib and Rosmah, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed Zayed Al-Nahyan, former MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad and several other individuals.
The clips, said to have been recorded between Jan 5, 2016 and Jul 29, 2016, are believed to be linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
In one of the clips, a woman, believed to be Rosmah, could be heard berating Najib, offering him “advice” on how to manage the 1MDB scandal.
Frustrated that there were “goons” among Najib’s advisors, she said Najib should have taken charge and not anybody else.
“Can I advise you something?” she said, raising her voice.
"I don't like this. Darling, you are the prime minister, you should take charge and not anybody else okay? You got goons around you to advise you."
Commenting on the conversation at the Kuala Lumpur High Court after his SRC International corruption trial on Wednesday, Najib said discussion on everyday happenings is a normal thing.
“No, no, no, everyone can give their views, there is no problem, but I make the final decision,” Najib said.
Another audio recording revealed that Najib had apparently asked the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to help fabricate a loan agreement to show that Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz had received financing from Emirati state fund International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and not from money siphoned from 1MDB.
There was also an audio clip featuring a conversation believed to be between Najib and Mr Dzulkifli, then a deputy public prosecutor in the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), about an investigation paper.
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MACC Chief Commissioner Latheefa Koya had said that these clips pointed to serious issues including abuse of power, criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice and fabrication of false evidence through foreign assistance.
While she insisted that the revelation was made in the public interest, Najib, in a Facebook post, accused the MACC of contempt of court.
“Why is the MACC insulting the court while the 1MDB case is being tried? Has MACC become a court?”
“Why (are the recordings) not submitted as evidence in court? Why is Jho Low’s name not mentioned even though Pakatan Harapan accused that Jho Low and I were accomplices? Why isn’t there a voice recording between Jho Low and I?” he wrote.
Najib added that the revelation would, in fact, work in his favour as the content of the conversations would prove that he has been telling the truth about the 1MDB case.
MACC'S BROADCASTING OF CLIPS "IMPROPER": LAWYER
Bukit Gelugor Member of Parliament and lawyer Ramkarpal Singh described MACC’s broadcasting of the audio clips as “improper and regretted”.
The politician from Pakatan Harapan’s Democratic Actions Party said in a Facebook post on Thursday that Ms Latheefa’s action could amount to a trial by media of those implicated in the recordings.
"Whether or not the individuals involved are responsible for any offence, which may have been committed, that is the job of the courts, not the media or for that matter, any agency investigating the individuals purportedly in the said recordings,” he wrote.
Mr Ramkarpal added that it is for the MACC or police to investigate the conversations and present their findings in court.
“If such a trend were to continue, we will soon see alleged criminals being found guilty in a press conference and not a court of law,” he said.
"Spying on people in their telephone conversations may be unconstitutional although it may be provided for in law today."
The Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) was amended to allow intercepting and recording private conversations in 2012, when Najib was serving as prime minister.
Section 116C of the CPC stipulates that a police officer may be authorised to "intercept, listen or record" any conversation, and to install a device to intercept communications, if the public prosecutor considers that the communication contains information relating to the commission of an offence.