KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Labelled a “national embarrassment” for his conduct involving SRC International Sdn Bhd, Datuk Seri Najib Razak claimed the description was unfair and better suited to episodes such as the Bank Negara Malaysia foreign exchange scandal in the 1990s.
When asked to comment on the remarks of the appellate court judges who dismissed his appeal, Najib said it was disappointing before going on to hold up his record as the prime minister of Malaysia.
Speaking to reporters via teleconferencing after losing his appeal, Najib said he had doubled the value of the country’s assets when he had been in charge of the government.
“As an example, the total assets of the country under my watch grew from RM800 million to RM2 trillion; therefore, I created a lot of wealth for the country and that is just one example.
“So, when we talk about national embarrassments, there are other incidents, other issues, scandalous issues, for example, the scandal surrounding the forex issue, which led to the loss of about RM31 billion.
“If put in that context, isn’t that a much more colossal national embarrassment? I’d just like to put it in proper perspective,” he said.
The forex scandal took place when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the fourth prime minister while Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was the finance minister. Both are now political rivals to Najib.
However, Najib did not expressly reject the label, only saying that he was disappointed that the judges saw fit to include such language in their judgment.
Najib pointed out that his Barisan Nasional government had initiated a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate the 1990s forex scandal, but that this was later stopped and the case classified as needing “no further action (NFA)”.
“A loss of RM31 billion was classified as an NFA case. Just to put it in proper perspective,” he said.
The RCI convened for 10 days in August 2018 following consent by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong a month before, with the probe aimed at investigating the losses incurred by BNM in the forex market from 1992 to 1994.
Also expressing dismay towards the judges remark was lead defence counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who said the line appeared added nothing of substance to the judgement.
“A judgment is supposed to be clinical, it is supposed to have content that must be accurate.
“It is not supposed to just have the sound effects. This line was to achieve the sound effect of the judgment rather than content effect,” he said.
Muhammad Shafee said they would also seek to expunge the line from the appellate court’s judgment if the final appeal to the Federal Court were successful.
This morning, Najib lost his appeal against his conviction and sentence involving the misappropriation of RM42 million belonging to SRC International after the appellate court affirmed the High Court’s ruling.
Later, Najib was granted a stay of execution by the Court of Appeal for his sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment and RM210 million fine, pending the outcome of his appeal at the Federal Court.
Najib’s failed appeal today was against the High Court’s decision from July 28, 2020, which found him guilty of all seven charges relating to SRC’s RM42 million.
The High Court previously sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail for each of six charges (three counts each of criminal breach of trust and money laundering), as well as 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine with an additional five years’ jail if the fine is not paid for the abuse of position charge.
The High Court had ruled that Najib’s prison sentences would run concurrently or at the same time, which would mean a maximum imprisonment of 12 years for Najib.