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Dewan Rakyat Heats Up Amidst Govt's Consideration To Give Najib RM100M To Buy A House

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has since said that it was Tun Mahathir Mohamad's administration in 2003 that approved a law that allows former PMs to be gifted a free house.

Cover image via Parlimen Malaysia (YouTube) & AFP via The Bangkok Post

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The Dewan Rakyat heated up yesterday, 18 November, after it heard that the government is in discussions to approve a RM100 million grant for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to buy a house

The revelation was made by Langkawi member of Parliament (MP) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz was giving his wind-up speech on the Supply Bill 2022.

"There is an additional item in the Budget which we were not made aware of earlier, but now people are aware of it," the two-time former premier began.

"There is a RM100 million allocation for a gift to the sixth prime minister (PM) Datuk Seri Najib Razak to purchase a plot of land and build a house because of his service to the nation," the two-time former premier said.

"This (RM100 million allocation) was not mentioned. Now we want to know what was his service? As far as we know that he is a convict, who has been proven guilty and sentenced to 12 years' jail and fined RM200 million."

"He is not in jail and he did not pay the fine. The fine needs to be paid, but (he) did not. Are those the services that this government wants to reward?"

If that is the case, Mahathir said, then future PMs will opt to swindle money because they will get additional money and the stolen money will be returned.

"How can the government allocate such gifts to a former PM; to a convicted person? During my tenure, I had not even once asked for a house and I depend on my pension," said the 96-year-old.

Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Image via Parlimen Malaysia (YouTube)

Of the RM100 million allocation for Najib, Mahathir claimed that RM60 million is to buy land while RM40 million is to build the house

Pressed with the weighty question, Zafrul said Mahathir's query should be directed to the Prime Minister's Department as it is in charge of allowances and privileges accorded to former PMs as provided under the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

Image via Parlimen Malaysia (YouTube)

Mahathir then said he was told that the allocation for Najib has been approved by the Cabinet and that Zafrul should know about the matter because he is a Cabinet minister himself.

"Did the Cabinet reject (the grant)?" the Langkawi MP asked.

Following that, other MPs stood up to demand answers from Zafrul on this "hidden" allocation for Najib

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the Dewan Rakyat had just heard the confirmation of the request of the RM100 million grant for Najib, which the Cabinet might have already approved.

"My question here is that when in the Parliament we asked for permanent positions for contract doctors, (the government said) it has no money, asked for additional aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, no money," he said.

But for one person, one individual, we want to approve RM100 million.
Syed Saddiq

"If we approve such a thing, our name, dignity, and conscience will be on the line. I hope the other MPs here will consider this properly. Don't sell off your dignity," said the MP.

Datuk Mahfuz Omar, RSN Rayer, Gobind Singh Deo, and Azis Jamman — who are all from the opposition bloc — also joined Syed Saddiq in demanding an answer from the Finance Minister.

Clockwise: RSN Rayer, Zafrul, Syed Saddiq.

Image via Parlimen Malaysia (YouTube)

In response to the MPs' questions, Zafrul explained that the reason the allocation is not mentioned is because the request came after the tabling of the Supply Bill.

"As you know, any additional spending after that will have to be brought in the surplus budget bill," he said.

Opposition MPs continued to pressure Zafrul to answer whether the Cabinet had approved the allocation, but the Dewan Rakyat Speaker intercepted and told everyone to sit down

"That's enough! If you don't want to leave, please sit down and listen to the wind-up speech," said Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun, who was presiding over the proceeding.

"The debate period is over and the minister is now responding (to queries raised during debate). Are you trying to teach me about Standing Orders?"

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun.

Image via Parlimen Malaysia (YouTube)

In a Facebook post last night, Najib broke his silence on the issue and said the free house grant for former PMs was done in accordance with a law that was enacted during Mahathir's regime in 2003

"He himself amended the law when he was the fourth PM. My office merely applied to be given a house after the 14th General Election (GE14) in accordance with the law he amended," he wrote on Facebook.

He said the government gave "three plots of land to choose from, so I chose one", adding that he did not ask for the RM100 million.

Additionally, Najib questioned why the matter was brought up now and wondered if it is a way to sway for votes in the upcoming Melaka state election.

He also lamented that his office as former PM is merely a rented bungalow in Bukit Pantai, while Mahathir's office at the Perdana Leadership Foundation is a vast complex in Putrajaya.

Najib uploaded pages of the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act, which stipulates that former PMs are entitled to a "free government house".

Image via Najib Razak (Facebook)

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that Pakatan Harapan (PH) may reconsider the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the federal government if it awards Najib a plot of land and a house worth RM100 million, reported Malay Mail.

Under the MoU, PH agreed that not to use its votes in Parliament to oust PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob or block the Supply Bill 2022.

In return, the government agreed to work on a slew of reforms.

Should the Supply Bill not pass in the final stage, it may cause the fall of Ismail's administration and a General Election may be called.

You can watch the proceeding at the 1:43:40 mark below:

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