KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s opposition on Saturday submitted a notice for a no-confidence vote against embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak, as he faces increasing calls to answer a barrage of corruption allegations.
Critics want Najib to explain massive sums allegedly missing from state-owned development company 1MDB, which he launched, and nearly $700 million in mysterious transfers made to his personal bank accounts.
While the motion is unlikely to succeed as Najib’s party holds a majority in parliament, it adds to pressure on the embattled premier as he fights for his political life over the scandal.
“The people of Malaysia can no longer trust the prime minister,” read the notice filed by opposition lawmaker Hee Loy Sian.
The 1MDB affair has deeply tarnished Najib just as his United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has controlled the country for nearly six decades, faces sliding support.
On Thursday, a senior high-level UMNO official jumped ship to the opposition camp, and several other heavyweights this week also joined former premier Mahathir Mohamad to demand Najib answer corruption charges.
Malaysia’s nine state sultans, in a rare statement last week, said failure to investigate the allegations had created a “crisis of confidence” and called for a probe into the affair to be revived.
Prominent opposition figure Chua Tian Chang, said he hopes the no-confidence vote, due to be held on Monday if given green light by the parliament speaker, will help efforts to oust Najib.
“Yes, the motion is symbolic,” he told AFP, but added: “We will keep pushing and they will keep ignoring, but there are many ways to skin a cat.”
While pressure continues mounting on the premier, critics believe the “real test” will come when Najib seeks crucial approval votes for his annual budget, which he will present on Friday in parliament.
A failure to get a majority vote on the budget will further cripple confidence in the embattled premier’s position, said Chua.
“The real test for Najib is when all the MPs have to vote on his budget,” he said.
Malaysia’s central bank said it had formally recommended criminal proceedings be launched against 1MDB in August, but that was dismissed by a Najib-appointed attorney general.
Inquiries have stalled after Najib fired his attorney general in July and after police raided the anti-corruption agency offices the following month.
Both Najib and 1MDB vehemently have denied any wrongdoing.
Najib’s allies say the money deposited into his accounts came from “political donations” from Middle Eastern sources, but have refused to provide details.