Sun, May 13, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Malaysia bans ex-leader from leaving the country


Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak attends a news conference to announce his resignation as president of the United Malays National Organization, the main party of the defeated Barisan Nasional coalition, in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Malaysia’s scandal-ridden former prime minister Najib Razak was yesterday hit with a travel ban as speculation mounted that he was about to flee the country following his shock election loss, in a possible bid to avoid prosecution over a massive financial scandal.

An angry crowd had gathered at a Kuala Lumpur airport, shouting at vehicles and seeking to stop them entering, after a flight plan leaked online showed Najib and his unpopular wife, Rosmah Mansor, were planning to fly to Indonesia.

The defeat of Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition in last week’s poll by an alliance led by his one-time mentor Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was a political earthquake, which toppled an increasingly authoritarian regime that had ruled the country for six decades.

At 92, Mahathir is the world’s oldest state leader. He previously served as Malaysian prime minister for more than two decades, and was himself accused of ruling with an iron fist.

Speculation had been mounting that Najib, who has been embroiled in a massive scandal related to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, might try to flee the country as Mahathir has pledged to investigate the controversy.

As the image of the leaked manifest for a flight to Jakarta spread like wildfire online, Najib insisted in social media posts he was planning only a “short break” overseas to rest after the election and would be back next week.

However, anger quickly mounted among social media users who accused the defeated leader of seeking to flee, and the Immigration Department of Malaysia swiftly announced that both he and Rosmah were banned from leaving the country.

“The immigration department has just now blacklisted Najib and Rosmah from leaving the country,” department Director-General Mustafar Ali told reporters.

“I have just been informed by the immigration department of Malaysia that my family and I are not allowed to go abroad. I respect the decision and I will remain in the country with my family,” Najib tweeted.

Rosmah has long been a lightning rod for public anger in Malaysia due to her reported love of luxury shopping trips and vast collection of designer handbags.

Earlier, as dozens of people descended on the airport in a bid to stop them from leaving, riot police were stationed by the gate of the airport where it was believed Najib would enter.

As a white van with heavily tinted windows attempted to pass, the crowd surrounded the vehicle and demanded it be opened so they could see who was inside.

They tried to rock the van and one man shouted “I hate Rosmah.”

It was only allowed to pass after those inside rolled down a window to prove Najib was not in the van.

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