Leaders from across Malaysia’s political spectrum and hundreds of their supporters led by former longtime Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad have rallied in Kuala Lumpur, calling for the removal of the current prime minister over a $700m corruption scandal.
Opponents of Najib Razak said on Sunday that they planned to petition the country’s Islamic royalty seeking the removal of the scandal-plagued prime minister, who has been mired into graft allegations to the tune of $700m.
“(Najib’s) leadership undermines the very existence of our institutions,” said 90-year-old Mahathir, who dominated Malaysia as prime minister for 22 years before retiring in 2003.
“We want the rule of law, and the actions of Najib have destroyed it. He no longer deserves to be the prime minister,” Mahathir said at the gathering attended by leaders from the ruling party, opposition and civil society.
The highly unusual grouping of heavyweights from both from the ruling party and the opposition groups was formed in early March, when it issued a call to “save” Malaysia from disaster by removing Najib.
Former deputy prime minister Muhyddin Yassin and Democratic Action Party senior leader Lim Kit Siang were to speak at the gathering as well, the DPA news agency reported.
Jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has endorsed the movement, despite a history of conflict with Mahathir.
Najib has been under pressure to resign since July, after the Wall Street Journal newspaper suggested that nearly $700m in his bank accounts came from the state-funded 1Malaysia development fund.
He has denied wrongdoing, saying the funds were campaign donations sent by Saudi Arabia and have since been returned.
The attorney general has decided not to prosecute Najib, saying most of the money was a personal donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family.
However, the Saudis have not confirmed that, claim agencies said.
It is, however, unclear if the Malaysian royalty can or will take any action.
Swiss authorities said recently up to $4bn may have been stolen from Malaysian state firms, mainly 1MDB, and that they were investigating possible fraud and money-laundering.
American, British, Singaporean and Hong Kong authorities are also scrutinising 1MDB-related money flows.