KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak has been found guilty of corruption and must therefore serve his jail sentence, Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said in what appears to be the strongest denouncement of his party colleague to date.
In an interview with regional news portal Asia Times published today, the Negri Sembilan state lawmaker said the former prime minister has been tried and convicted in court over the misappropriation of RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, and now needs to go through the proper judicial process before he can seek a royal pardon.
"The court is the place where you can prove whether you’re innocent or not. He didn’t prove it. He couldn’t prove it,” Mohamad, popularly known as Tok Mat, was quoted as saying.
"Everybody has to pay their dues. But if we want to pardon, he [Najib] has to go through the process. He’ll have to go inside first.”
The bombshell statement came as the Umno number two blamed his party’s failure to "tell the truth” about the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal for its tainted public reputation ahead of the 15th general election.
SRC International was a 1MDB subsidiary.
Mohamad indicated to the English publication headquartered in Hong Kong that Najib should not expect special treatment from an Umno-led government if the latter is eventually jailed on a slew of graft charges.
Political observers in Malaysia have noted rifts within Umno, pointing to the party's current president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi leading a faction pushing for early election, purportedly to influence the outcome of its leaders who are currently facing corruption charges.
Malaysian laws allow those on trial to run for public office as long as they have not exhausted their legal options.
Najib is still standing trial for the main 1MDB corruption charges as well as an alleged tampering of its audit report while Zahid is being tried for a slew of other corruption charges.
But Mohamad told Asia Times that Umno wants Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob — who is also the party vice-president — to call for an early general election to capitalise on the party’s resurgent popularity.
Umno’s leadership then pushed for a snap election between March and June, said Mohamad, to seize the political momentum following thumping Barisan Nasional victories at state elections in Melaka, Sarawak and Johor, but Ismail appeared to have ignored the call.
"The prime minister told us he cannot take back his word on this so-called MoU. Some quarters say that if we pull out of the government today and dissolve the parliament, we will be deemed as condemned. I don’t understand that at all,” Mohamad was quoted as saying.
"This isn’t even an agreement, it’s an MoU. But okay, we give him [Ismail Sabri] the benefit of the doubt.”
Umno was handed its maiden defeat at the 14th general election after ruling for over six decades on the back of public anger over living cost pressure and the 1MDB scandal.
Mohamad suggested that had Umno managed perception about the scandal better, it would have still been in power.
"Umno was defeated in 2018 not because it didn’t take care of the people. There was only one issue: 1MDB. The party and the government were too tolerant. We didn’t manage to explain, we didn’t manage to tell the truth,” he told Asia Times.
"It was the one issue that we didn’t address properly in the general election. We thought that it was a very simple issue. We never realised that this was a bushfire that would spread very far.
"People are well informed, so you cannot hide and sweep everything under the carpet anymore,” he added.