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    Aug 17, 2015

    Najib rebuts Mahathir's polls spending claims


    MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday slammed his toughest critic, Mahathir Mohamad, for claiming to have spent less than RM10 million in each general election when he himself was prime minister and head of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

    Mr Najib made the attack after RM2.6 billion (S$896 million) had been found in his personal accounts, which he claimed were political donations entrusted to him shortly before the 2013 General Election, reported news website The Malaysian Insider.

    "(Dr Mahathir) said he spent only RM10 million in the 1990s. I thought about that repeatedly. With the election deposits for 193 parliamentary seats and also the state seats, you would need at least RM41 million," Mr Najib told Umno delegates at a division meeting in Penang.

    "That is just the minimum expenditure if you spend RM100,000 per parliamentary seat and RM50,000 per state seat for the deposits.

    "The RM10 million is not reasonable. Even if you want to criticise, do it with basis. It must be logical and factual," he added.

    Mr Najib also said that when he was deputy to Abdullah Badawi, who took over premiership from Dr Mahathir in 2003, he never questioned his boss on matters that were his superior's prerogative.

    "I never asked him about political funding for the party all those six years I was his deputy. How he got the money, who gave the money were all under his discretion."

    Mr Najib asked why he was being questioned now, when there were no such issues faced by his predecessors.

    "Why question me when what I have done was for the party and not for my own gain? I also did not break any laws," he said, adding that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had cleared him.

    MACC had said the RM2.6 billion found in Mr Najib's accounts were political donations from an unnamed Middle Eastern country.

    Mr Najib is facing a rough patch after foreign media suggested that the debt-ridden federal investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad had channelled massive funds into his personal accounts.

    For months, he has been attacked daily by critics, including Dr Mahathir and social media users, over the alleged corruption.

    Meanwhile, according to newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, an unnamed Umno leader - whom he said was plotting to topple the government of Mr Najib - was to meet the prime minister last evening for confession and reconciliation.

    Mr Zahid said earlier in the day that the person had "come to his senses" and realised what he was planning to do was wrong, The Star reported.

    "So he will be meeting the prime minister and Umno president on the matter this evening (at about 6pm)," he said yesterday, while opening an Umno annual general meeting.

    Muhyiddin Yassin, whom Mr Najib sacked last month as deputy prime minister, and Razaleigh Hamzah - Gua Musang MP and veteran politician - are both widely speculated to be the "plotter", but have denied planning to overthrow the prime minister.

    Mr Zahid said the information was conveyed to him by someone at a meeting held to discuss the plan.

    But The Star reported at about 9pm last night that there was no sign of any visitors at the residence of Mr Najib throughout the evening. AGENCIES