Members of Malaysia's UMNO quitting over stress of graft investigations, says top party official

Members of Malaysia's UMNO quitting over stress of graft investigations, says top party official

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File photo of UMNO's 71st anniversary celebration at Bukit Jalil stadium on May 11, 2017. (Photo: MOHD RASFAN / AFP)

KUALA LUMPUR: Before he resigned from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) this week, former Malaysian minister Mustapa Mohamed was investigated by the police for receiving "a substantial amount of funds", said party secretary-general Annuar Musa on Thursday (Sep 20).

Annuar was responding to Channel NewsAsia’s request for confirmation on source information that Mustapa was recently investigated, as the probe into former prime minister Najib Razak and state investment firm 1MDB intensified.

The former minister for international trade and industry announced his resignation from UMNO on Tuesday after more than 40 years as a member, saying he disagreed with the direction the former ruling party was taking.

READ: Ex-minister Mustapa Mohamed quits UMNO after more than 40 years

“I can confirm, Kelantan UMNO, including Tok Pa (Mustapa), were investigated, interrogated for few days, with regards to some funds that he received from somewhere … that Tok Pa received a substantial amount of funds, which was investigated by the Royal Malaysia Police,” Annuar responded during a news conference.

He added that two others from the Kelantan division of UMNO were investigated as well "about 10 days ago".

In a statement on Thursday night to "clarify Annuar Musa's allegations", Mustapa said he had assisted police investigations into funds received by the UMNO Kelantan Liaison Office, suspected to be linked to 1MDB. 

Channel NewsAsia understands the funds were transferred into bank accounts belonging to the party, not Mustapa.

"I assisted the investigations in my capacity as the former chairman of the UMNO Kelantan Liaison Office," he said.

"The Royal Malaysia Police carried out their roles professionally and in an orderly manner. I respect the rule of law. Even though I am no longer with UMNO, I will give my full cooperation in this matter if needed."

At the news conference earlier, Annuar would not confirm if Mustapa had quit because of the investigation. However, he said some party members have left UMNO due to the stress arising from the probes.

"There are some who've left because they say upfront, they have business interests involving the government, and it's too big, so they feel they have to save their businesses," said Annuar.

"There are some who say they're being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and they don't want to be harassed. There are also some who've not been able to sleep for three nights after being investigated and they're stressed.

"Then there are some who leave because they want to form a political alliance that's different from what we have in UMNO." 

UMNO’s bank accounts were frozen earlier this year as part of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigatiosns into 1MDB.

READ: Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak claims trial to 25 charges of abuse of power, money laundering

Once Malaysia’s dominant ruling party, UMNO has been trying to recover and move forward following its historic defeat in the May general election.

As it explores new alliances, two big names announced their resignation this week – Mustapa and former foreign minister Anifah Aman.

Annuar denied that Mustapa left the party because of UMNO's closer ties with Islamist party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) as widely speculated.

The announcement of Mustapa’s departure came days after UMNO attended PAS's Annual General Meeting for the first time in years. UMNO and PAS were political rivals for decades but have reconciled to cooperate informally, for now, on matters concerning Islam in the multiethnic but Muslim-majority nation. 

As for Anifah, he said he left UMNO because of the party’s failure to deliver on its promises for his state of Sabah as outlined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

READ: Former Malaysian foreign minister Anifah Aman quits UMNO over Sabah rights

Source: CNA/ng/(gs)

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