Political opposition to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak over his handling of a scandal involving state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. continues to build, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The former deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, said Thursday he supported calls for Najib to resign.
Muhyiddin, whom Najib fired as deputy prime minister last summer, told reporters he would appeal the decision of the supreme council of the United Malays National Organization last week to suspend Muhyiddin as the party’s deputy president.
He said he reserves his right as a member of the party to criticize Najib, who is president of UMNO, part of the ruling coalition.
“The one who tarnished the reputation of UMNO is only one human, the president of UMNO, not me, not my brothers,” Muhyiddin told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Reporters asked him twice whether he supported calls for Najib to step down.
Each time, he said, “Yes, I support.”
He also said he plans to attend a gathering of Najib’s opponents planned for March 27.
The organizer of the protest, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, said participants including political opposition leaders and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad are expected to chart a strategy to step up the pressure on Najib.
Muhyiddin and Mahathir have criticized Najib repeatedly since the Journal reported last summer that government investigators had found that payments of almost US$700 million entered Najib’s personal bank accounts via banks, companies and other entities linked to the state investment fund, known as 1MDB.
Najib has denied wrongdoing or taking money for personal gain.
The 1MDB fund also has denied wrongdoing or taking money for personal gain and has said it was cooperating with investigations.
Malaysia’s attorney general, Mohamed Apandi Ali, said the funds transferred into Najib’s private accounts were a legal political donation from Saudi Arabia.
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