Malaysian politician ousted over criticism of prime minister

AP News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2016 4:50 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The son of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned Wednesday as the top leader of a federal state, saying he was ousted because of his criticism of Prime Minister Najib Razak over a $700 million financial scandal.

Mukhriz Mahathir said he had lost majority support in the northern Kedah state assembly following a party bid to remove him as chief minister. Mahathir has been leading calls for Najib to step down, and Mukriz's ouster was seen as a continuing purge of critics in Najib's government.

Mukhriz warned that the ruling Malay party was now at "its weakest point," tainted by scandal-ridden state investment fund 1MDB and more than $700 million that was channeled into Najib's personal bank accounts.

The attorney-general last week cleared Najib of any criminal wrongdoing, saying most of the money in his accounts was a private donation from the Saudi royal family and that Najib had returned most of it.

Mukhriz, however, said authorities in Switzerland, Singapore and other countries are still investigating 1MDB for possible graft. Two former Malaysian officials also have challenged the attorney general's decisions.

"Scandal after scandal, we can't take it all. It's too much for us. This is traumatizing all of us," Mukhriz said.

Critics have long voiced concerns over 1MDB, which is mired in 42 billion ringgit ($10.1 billion) in debt and has been selling its assets to clear its books. Najib, who formed 1MDB in 2009, became embroiled in the scandal after documents were leaked last year suggesting that money deposited into his accounts may have come from entities linked to 1MDB.