KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — Al Jazeera reporter Mary Ann Jolley said she was surprised Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not prepare himself more for the outlet’s 101 East interview last week that he abandoned midway after losing his temper.
In an interview with radio channel LITE, Jolley said the former prime minister’s aides clearly knew she was conducting the interview and that she was the journalist the Najib administration had deported in 2015 for investigating the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
“I really did think that he’d be ready. I was very surprised that he wasn’t more prepared for that.
“As a former prime minister, he wasn’t able to handle the questions,” said Jolley when asked if it was often that her guests would walk out on an interview.
Jolley also said Najib should have known from the beginning that she would interview him, since both his minder and media adviser were aware she personally requested the interview.
“Unless they wanted me to do the interview, but they did not want to tell him that I was doing the interview,” she suggested.
The investigative journalist said Al Jazeera did not provide a list of questions prior to the interview but gave an outline of topics that may be discussed, including Najib’s thoughts on the economy and the current government.
In the interview, Najib had threatened to “walk out” if Jolley continued her line of questioning on Altantuya, and would only sit back down if he could talk about the economy.
Jolley said she had more questions for Najib, including the deal between 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and PetroSaudi International, and his family’s luxury goods seized by police — but overall she said Najib answered around 60 per cent of the questions she prepared.
Najib later apologised for losing his cool during the interview, but accused the outlet and Jolley of being unfair by persisting on the murder of Altantuya.
The former prime minister also said the interview took place at the same time that his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, son, and stepson were being questioned by the police’s Anti-Money Laundering Crime Investigation Team.
The Pekan MP said on Facebook that the interview had gone beyond the allocated time and agreed upon scope, but he was happy to answer those additional questions and would not hesitate to return for another interview.