Malaysia ex-leader seeks police protection amid graft probe

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Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak gestures during his speech at United Malays National Organization (UMNO) building in Pekan, Malaysia, Sunday, May 20. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak gestures during his speech at United Malays National Organization (UMNO) building in Pekan, Malaysia, Sunday, May 20. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)

Pekan, Malaysia (AP) — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is under investigation for a massive corruption scandal, has sought police protection over concern about his family’s safety, Malaysia’s national news agency reported Sunday.

Najib’s long-ruling coalition suffered a shocking defeat in May 9 elections amid anger over at least $4.5 billion that investigators say was looted and laundered by Najib’s associates from a state investment fund he set up. The new government has reopened an investigation into the case, with police raiding Najib’s properties and seizing more than 300 expensive handbags as well as suitcases filled with cash, jewelry and other valuables.

Najib and his wife have been barred from leaving the country.

“Najib has lodged a police report asking for protection for himself and his family as they fear for their safety after the 14th general election,” a Najib spokesman told Bernama news agency. He didn’t give details.

Najib’s main aide said he couldn’t immediately comment when contacted.

The Malay Mail newspaper said Najib sought protection due to “clear threats” made, but gave no details.

Police have been stationed outside Najib’s house in Kuala Lumpur since he failed to win a third term in office.

On Sunday, he was escorted by police as he traveled back to his hometown of Pekan in central Pahang state.

Najib, 64, has been summoned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for questioning on Tuesday. A government official said he could possibly be detained after that.

Abdul Kadir Jasin, a spokesman for a new government advisory council, said an investigation had already been conducted in the past but was suppressed by Najib while he was in power.

“The chances are that he will give his statement and then be arrested,” Abdul Kadir wrote on his blog.

At a party event Sunday in Pekan, Najib reiterated that he “didn’t steal money from the people” and that the loss of his coalition — which had led Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957 — was due to a vicious personal attack against him based on slander and lies.

“The people of Pekan know me. I am not a thief. I am not a rogue,” he said. “To topple the party, they had to target the president. They would do anything as long as my brand was destroyed.”

He said he handed over power to the new government without fuss but lamented that he wasn’t treated well. He slammed raids on apartments occupied by his children, accusing police of taking baby shoes and wedding gifts that were unrelated to the 1MDB case.