Malaysia's opposition plans no-confidence motion against PM this week

Reuters News
|
Posted: Oct 19, 2015 7:34 AM

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The chief of Malaysia's newly-formed opposition alliance will submit a no-confidence motion in parliament this week against Prime Minister Najib Razak, the head of the grouping said on Monday.

Najib's tight grip on his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party has kept him in power despite public anger over alleged graft and financial mismanagement at strategic investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) [TERRN.UL], whose advisory board the prime minister chairs.

But Najib's grip appears to be loosening, and his position could become precarious if he loses some crucial upcoming votes in parliament.

"We will have a motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister, to be tabled by myself as opposition leader," said Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of jailed opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim, and the head of the new Pakatan Harapan alliance.

"The rationale is that we have to save this country."

The move will be the opposition's first such coordinated effort against Najib, Wan Azizah said, after party leaders decided to file a collective motion, retracting and taking over an individual motion submitted last week by one MP.

However, the opposition, which is about 25 seats short of a majority, is unlikely to win such a vote - provided the speaker does not reject the motion first. Wan Azizah did not say how the opposition would respond to such a rejection.

But the action adds to pressure on Najib after a report in July said investigators were looking into 1MDB and had found close to $700 million deposited in his personal bank account. Reuters has not been able to verify the report.

Najib has denied taking any money for personal gain while the Southeast Asia nation's anti-corruption commission said the funds were a political donation from the Middle East.

Najib also faces pressure within UMNO, as the party's old guard, led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, calls for his resignation over his alleged involvement in the 1MDB scandal.

1MDB, with debts of more than $11 billion, is under investigation by authorities in several countries.

A Parliament inquiry into 1MDB was halted midway when Najib reshuffled his cabinet in July, moving several party leaders into government positions.

But Hasan Ariffin, the newly elected chief of parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said on Monday the group was set to resume its inquiry into 1MDB, and it stayed "a priority".

Wan Azizah's alliance groups Anwar's People's Justice party, the largely ethnic Chinese Democratic Action Party and the newly-formed Parti Amanah Negara. They united against Najib's ruling coalition last month.

(Reporting by Trinna Leong; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)