Hornbill Unleashed

March 11, 2012

‘Cheap’ Najib under new fire after denial: Does he earn enough to blow RM400K on 1 dinner?

Filed under: Politics,PRU 13 Election — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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'Cheap' Najib under new fire after denial: Does he earn enough to blow RM400K on 1 dinner?

Wong Choon Mei

It looks like corruption is becoming de rigueur in Malaysia, with Prime Minister Najib Razak setting the example for his Cabinet to follow. If the allegations against him are true, then Najib must be prosecuted and given a deterrent sentence.

Not only was the 59-year-old leader accused of abusing his power, he must have disappointed a lot of Malaysians when they learned on Friday that the scion of the country’s most prominent political family may have been ‘cheap’ enough to pass off the bill for his daughter’s engagement party to the ordinary folk.

“This is not a small matter. It may be just RM409,767, but it signifies the lax attitude of the government, starting from the PM to his cabinet ministers who use taxpayers’ money for the personal,” PKR strategy director Rafizi told a much-awaited press conference on Friday.

Rafizi backed up his claim with a copy of the banquet order from Shangri La Hotel, which did the catering for the engagement party held at the Seri Perdana, the PM’s official residence. The invoice for RM409,767 was billed to the Prime Minister’s Department.

However, Rafizi had also acknowledged to reporters that it was possible that Najib may have later reimbursed his office for the bill, but stressed that it was still abuse of power for the PM to make use of his office to arrange the huge dinner attended by nearly 1,000 people. Above all, pointed out Rafizi, it only raises further questions about Najib’s sources of income.

“And even if he has reimbursed it, we want to know where he got the money. That’s a lot, almost half a million for an engagement dinner,” said Rafizi.

PMO denial targets Rafizi for hitting too close to home?

Meanwhile, Najib’s office has denied the allegation in an unusual 2-paragraph statement that pin-pointed Rafizi, reflecting how close the PKR leader must have come to hitting home.

Despite having been PM for 3 years, Najib has failed to shake off the spectre of massive corruption. Speculation remains rife that he is involved in the Altantuya murder case and had allegedly received a RM570 million illegal kickback from French arms giant DCN for agreeing to buy 2 Scorpene submarines in 2002.

“PKR’s strategic director Rafizi Ramli should apologise for his allegations, which are false, defamatory and a deliberate smear on the Prime Minister’s reputation,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“No public funds were used to meet the costs of his daughter’s engagement reception, which was paid for personally by the Prime Minister and his family.”

Be that as it may, the dinner bill is not the first controversial expense related to Najib’s daughter, Nooryana Najwa, who married the nephew of a powerful Kazakh leader last year. During an official visit there in June, Najib and wife Rosmah Mansor had allegedly taken with them scores of personal guests to attend the Kazakh leg of Nooryana’s engagement.

The guests are believed to have traveled first class as part of the official entourage and the expense was queried in Parliament. The foreign ministry was forced to admit that the traveling bill came up to a whopping RM1.1 million.

Tip of the iceberg

Lavish spending has been a hallmark of the Najib administration. Not only has Rosmah hogged the international headlines for the wrong reasons with her shopping sprees, her collection of Birkin handbags and a USD24 million diamond ring, Najib and family have been caught sneaking off for a private holiday in Perth on Malaysia’s National Day instead of celebrating the occasion with the people at home.

Worse still, the Najibs thought nothing of using the government’s private jet plane to ferry themselves and their guests to the Australian state. And when they were caught, the reason given was that they had flown there for an official event for Malaysian students and Najib had given an “awe-inspiring” speech. But so unpopular were the Najibs that the students immediately rubbished the claims on their Facebook and revealed further ‘dirt’ on the first family.

“This could well be the tip of the ice-berg. There should be a full probe and accounting to the people of the way the Prime Minister’s Office is spending its funds. Vague replies with a lump-sum are not acceptable. There should detailed breakdowns. These are simple and basic checks and balances that should have long ago been put in to safeguard the people’s interest,” said Rafizi.

The Kazakh connection

But it is in Kazakhstan that all eyes are now on. It was recently revealed that the embattled directors of the National Feedlot Centre had bought a RM1.7 million ‘apartment’ to be used as its office in Almaty, a southern Kazakh city.

The NFC directors are the husband and children of Umno Women’s minister Shahrizat Jalil. They have been accused of abusing their power and corrupting using a RM250 million government soft loan to gain personal loans to buy super-luxury condos in Bangsar, Singapore and now it appears, Kazakhstan.

Yet the loan agreement specifies that utilization of the funds is to be for the development of the cattle breeding project – to establish and operate “a National Feedlot Centre to be consistent with the Government of Malaysia’s policy of developing, promoting and nurturing the production of beef and beef products…”

“Based on the loan agreement, NFCorp is certainly not meant to be raising cattle in, or acquiring meat from Kazakhstan, much less buying an ‘apartment’ there,” DAP MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua had said in a statement out on Thursday.

Najib witnessed the signing of about 5 memoranda of understanding in Kazakhstan. One of these relates directly to NFC striking a deal with a Kazakh party for the purpose of importing beef to Malaysia.

“He cannot escape, the buck stops with him. In the Kazakh-NFC case, he must come clean. How can he as PM and Finance minister endorse an agreement that contravenes the NFC’s loan conditions, which are in the first place meant to safeguard the interest of the Malaysian people. This is public money we are talking about. The same goes with the RM409,767 bill for his daughter’s reception in Putrajaya. Are we being charged for every single thing, big or small. If abuse of power is involved, it is not only morally wrong, it is illegal. Corruption is illegal and cannot be condoned,” said Rafizi.


1 Comment »

  1. marriage communication…

    ‘Cheap’ Najib under new fire after denial: Does he earn enough to blow RM400K on 1 dinner? « Hornbill Unleashed…

    Trackback by marriage communication — March 12, 2012 @ 7:31 AM | Reply

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