Asia

Ex-Malaysian PM Mahathir challenges Rosmah to sue him

Ex-Malaysian PM Mahathir challenges Rosmah to sue him
Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's former prime minister. Bloomberg file photo
Published: 7:26 PM, June 19, 2017
Updated: 9:47 PM, June 19, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has challenged Prime Minister Najib Razak’s wife, Rosmah Mansor to sue him, while urging her to return money which he alleged was taken from citizens.

Writing on his Facebook page, he said he was merely telling the truth. “Rosmah says she will sue anyone who slanders her. I (Mahathir) am not afraid because this isn’t a slander. I’m brave because of the truth,” Dr Mahathir said on Monday (June 19).

“If this is slander, I challenge Rosmah to sue DoJ (Department of Justice) as well,” he added.

His posting came two days after lawyers acting for Ms Rosmah warned that they were monitoring social media and other publications for slander.

“Recently, more malicious and baseless attacks have surfaced against Rosmah Mansor on blogs and social media. These attacks are false allegations made without any proof and/or basis, done with malice with the sole intent of putting Rosmah Mansor in disrepute casting aspersions of alleged wrongdoings causing harm and injury to her reputation,” said a statement by law firm Messrs Noorhajran Mohd Noor on Saturday.

The statement from the law firm came following a spike in netizen reactions linking her to allegations of misappropriation of funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in the United States DoJ civil filing that was released last Thursday.

The DoJ has sought to seize US$540 million (S$) in assets obtained by funds allegedly stolen from 1MDB.

The DoJ’s latest filing was criticised by Putrajaya and several senior ministers.

This time last year, American prosecutors filed civil asset-forfeiture suits against more than US$1 billion (S$) worth of American assets bought with money allegedly misappropriated from the state investment firm.

Last year’s lawsuit also renewed calls from Mr Najib’s detractors - from opposition lawmakers to Dr Mahathir - for him to quit.

Mr Najib has been under intense political pressure over the RM2.6 billion deposited into his private accounts, as well as irregularities in 1MDB.

According to the DoJ filing, which did not name Mr Najib or his wife, it is seeking to recover assets including artworks, jewellery and film rights believed to have been paid for with funds siphoned off from 1MDB.

Nearly US$30 million of funds embezzled from 1MDB was allegedly used to buy jewellery for the prime minister’s wife, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace.

In his latest Facebook post, Dr Mahathir wrote: “I urge Rosmah to return the people’s money and jewellery that was bought with their money. The money that was used belongs to the people and not Rosmah.”

He did not directly refer to the DoJ suit filed.

“If you are brave, sue us. I am ready,” he added. AGENCIES