Malaysia’s Mahathir announces top cabinet picks, bars former PM from leaving: What we know so far

A day after Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as Malaysia’s Prime Minster, the ousted Najib Razak and his wife were barred to leave the country by the Malaysian authorities after Mohamad vowed to reopen the investigation into the multi-billion-dollar graft scandal allegedly involved the former leader. Confirming the reports on Saturday, Mahathir said that he prevented Najib from leaving the country.

“There is sufficient evidence for an investigation into things done by the former PM, if necessary the rule of law will apply,” said Mahathir. Further, to avoid issues arising in the extradition process, Mahathir prevented Najib to leave the country.

The alleged graft scandal against Najib was reported in 2015 and reports said that Najib’s bank account received $700 million from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund (1MDB), set up in 2009 to promote economic development. At the time Najib chaired its advisory board and held veto power over the fund’s activities. It is also alleged by the U.S. Justice Department, that top executives of Najib looted $4.5 billion from the fund laundering it through the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland and other countries.

Staggering under heavy debt, 1MDB sold its assets to Chinese interest.

According to Reuters, Mahathir will review contracts involving Chinese companies to inquire how they would be favourable to Malaysia.

Malaysia recently elected Mahathir Mohamad as its Prime Minister, taking the baton from the former leader Najib and making Mahathir as the oldest prime minister in the world. The 92-year-old leader was sworn in as Malaysia’s seventh prime minister on Thursday.

Second day in office, Mahathir announced appointments of senior ministers in the new Cabinet. Lim Guan Eng, secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party, was appointed as the Finance Minister; Mohamad Sabu, a long-time opposition politician, as the defence minister; former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, as the home or interior minister; former Central bank Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz and business tycoon Robert Kuok were appointed as members of the ‘Council of Elders’.

Council of Elders is a special team comprising of people from distinguished fields to advise the government on economic and financial matters for the next 100 days.

In relation to Anwar Ibrahim’s role, founder and leading figure of the People’s Justice Party, Mahathir said that his future role will be determined by the party. Charged with corruption and sodomy, Ibrahim is to be released from imprisonment on May 15, confirmed his daughter Nurul Izzah on Saturday.

Necessary action will be taken with regard to the market when it opens on Monday.

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