Former Malaysian leader talks about his fall from power | FT Interview

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Najib razak was malaysian prime minister for nine years but he was voted out of power in an extraordinary upheaval he’s now facing 32 charges including money laundering and his court in the sprawling investigation into the state investment fund 1mdb i asked him how it was that hundreds of millions of dollars ended up in his personal account how do you explain this

Vast sum of money that came into your personal accounts well as you know around that time there was concerned that the arab spring will might even reach this part of the world and the saudi government decided to support us and i had firm commitment it was going to be a donation and a total sum that came in was about 680 million it was special useful as dollars it

Was used for election for months of the election 621 million was returned so i’m my conscience very clear it was men for a specific reason and it was used for that and the money was returned back and what was the specific reason i mean what was it used on the money that was spent what was it used for basically to ensure continuity of a government that’s moderate

Progressive and the saudis saw us as the model country and they decided to support us so essentially this is a political slush fund i wouldn’t describe as a slush fund but i would describe it as donation to ensure the government of that day continues to be an office do you look back on this whole period with with any sense of regret or shame or repentance you know

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The malaysian there were malaysian sort of government bodies that are taking out of basements in the international press now saying malaysia’s been through this terrible dark period of corruption and now we’re back and you know you can trust us again don’t look back at that and think you know that was a mess that i was responsible well if you look in terms of the

Major indicators okay i mean look at in terms of the growth figures last year we achieve five point eight percent the nine years of my premiership the average growth rate was five point five percent if you look in terms of the benefits we’ve given to the people they were essentially benefits that enjoyed but a large proportion of the malaysian people when the the

The police raided your official home and your offices they found all this cash they found these vast amounts of sort of luxury goods handbags and things like that how could you explain that i mean the total value of this cash in different currencies these luxury goods were i mean it was quite enormous lehigh how do you how do you explain that that the existence

Of that of that money well yeah okay first of all in terms of the cash they were all associated with election it’s the practice that my predecessors did the same thing and i’m on record essentially buying votes is that there’s not buying votes oh the machinery required we don’t buy votes please we never buy votes in this country but every political party needs

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Funding just like in america every president is funding i wanted to institute a system in which there would be more transparent but it was rejected by the opposition then when i first came into office so this was money for political operative purposes the the party we run a big party there are 13 component parties of barisan nasional and and and the constitution

Requires me allows me to collect funding for the party and what about the jewelry in the handbags that’s not good for electioneering is it not much good but i agree with you but you know being in office we have very close relationship with many many monarchs and heads of government and some of them have a practice of giving very a very expensive presence i know

On anniversaries when we visit them and so forth so you’re you unrepentant what you see now is the future for yourself and your wife rosa has also been questioned oh how are we gonna go from here i have to face you know the trial in a way i welcome it because it will give me an opportunity to clear my name that’s important to me i i wanted to clear my name i’m

Confident of my innocence and i hope that and i pray that i will get you know a fair trial and we have to uphold the independence of the judiciary this why welcome international observers to look at the proceedings in our court

Transcribed from video
Former Malaysian leader talks about his fall from power | FT Interview By Financial Times

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