KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has not been given special treatment as a prisoner, his lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah insisted today.
Asked about allegations that Najib was given the codename “Merpati” or pigeon as a prisoner and that he is getting preferential treatment as a prisoner, Shafee rubbished this idea.
Shafee suggested that the word “merpati” could have the meaning of “pondan”, arguing that the word “bird” could be used to describe a woman but not a man.
“What is Merpati? They keeping pigeon in the hospital? Merpati is normally for pondan. Bird. How can you say a man is a bird? I mean, describe she’s a nice bird, I won’t say he’s a nice bird, can you? He will run away,” he said in reply to reporters when met at the court complex here.
It should be noted that “pondan” is a pejorative term for “transsexual”.
As for claims that Najib receives special treatment as a prisoner, Shafee pointed out that his client allegedly is not given a specific room for his meals during breaks in court proceedings.
“No, you will be surprised, if he’s special, they don’t even give him a room here for him to sit down and eat,” he said.
Najib is believed to have been placed in a holding room attached to the courtroom during breaks in the court proceeding. He is also believed to have his meals inside there. His family members have also been seen going in-and-out of the holding room where he is placed on many occasions.
Shafee also dismissed the idea that Najib was given a first-class room at Hospital Kuala Lumpur or the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital, saying that he had visited his client and that it was just a standard hospital room.
“No, bullshit, total nonsense, it’s a standard room for anyone who is needing that kind of treatment from the prison, that’s what they gave him, I went,” he said, adding that he himself had a better hospital room when he was in the National Heart Institute (IJN).
Asked whether visits from the family was according to usual procedures, Shafee replied: “I wanted to see him on Saturday and Sunday, because as a counsel, something urgent, I just came back from Melbourne, they said they can’t give exception too many times, they said that. Which is exactly what I get from other prisoners, so what is the special I don’t understand.”
In dismissing the claim that Najib receives special treatment, Shafee added: “Nothing. Maybe his food, because of the ulcer, yes, they cannot give him spicy food, they cannot give him oily food.”
Asked if Najib is getting outside food, Shafee denied this by saying, “Cannot what (sic)”, before adding that even the family today were not allowed to provide food to Najib due to the need to monitor his diet in relation to his health condition.
Prior to his recent hospitalisation after being sent to jail, Najib has been seen sipping from cups in the signature orange colour of coffee chain Gloria Jeans – which has an outlet in the court complex – while waiting for his trials to continue.
On one occasion, he was also seen eating inside the courtroom from food packed in a transparent takeaway container given by his aide.
Asked why Najib had to be transferred from Hospital Kuala Lumpur to the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital previously, Shafee said Najib was already receiving physiotherapy at Hospital Kuala Lumpur but that it was not adequate.
Shafee was uncertain why Najib had to be transferred to the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital as he did not know in detail about the matter, suggesting : “He has a certain thing that even I do not know in detail. He’s got a certain medical condition that requires him to do physiotherapy. It may be related to his existing condition, you know he has got a knee problem, big operation when he was PM.”
While Najib’s blood pressure had previously went down, Shafee said it has yet to return to his normal range of 110 to 120 over 70 to 80, and that his client’s blood pressure today was at 136/87.
Shafee said Najib had also lost weight, and his stomach ulcer and knee problem are still there.
Fresh from his recent discharge from hospital, Najib was seen wearing a dark blue suit with a dark purple tie with black diagonal stripes while walking into the courtroom and sitting in the dock today for his trial over the alleged misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.
Earlier this month, the High Court hearing the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case lost three-and-a-half days of trial (September 13 to September 15) due to Najib's admission to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for medical checks.
On September 23, the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital announced that Najib was in good health and sent back to Kajang prison.
Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and his daughter Nooryana Najwa were also briefly seen in the courtroom today.