PRIME Minister Najib Razak’s family paid their own way to join him in Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said today.
The statement comes after social media users questioned why Najib’s family members were also on his working visit to the Middle Eastern kingdom.
The questions and criticisms started after snapshots of the delegation list for Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s working visit to the kingdom went viral on social media.
The debate on social media centred on why taxpayers were having to pay for the family members and special guests.
Those on the list included Najib’s mother, children, stepson, son-in-law, baby grandson, brothers and four special guests.
PMO confirmed that Najib, who was invited by King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud, was joined by his wife, mother, several family members including his brothers, acquaintances and officers.
“The prime minister wishes to perform the umrah during this working visit. He invited his family and a few acquaintances to join him on the pilgrimage.
“His brothers and acquaintances on the trip paid their own expenses to go to the Holy Land. Only (his mother) Rahah Mohammad Noah joined him on the flight to Saudi Arabia,” PMO said in a statement posted on its facebook page.
The office also said the names of the people joining Najib on the trip were included in the official delegation list to facilitate administrative matters for the Arab side handling the pilgrimage programme.
Najib’s working visit to Saudi Arabia is from Monday to January 12. The purpose of his visit is for both countries to discuss bilateral issues.
PMO also said among the delegates were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom and other officers.
“The prime minister and the delegation are accorded the status of state guests by the Saudi Arabian government,” it added.
The delegation list making the rounds on social media has attracted much ridicule and criticism against Najib and his family.
On Facebook, Andrea Mo wrote: “mampuih duit rakyat (the people’s money gone).”
@potatoparrie on Twitter wrote: “Najib using our money for ‘working visit’ to Saudi Arabia bringing all his family members?!”
@ahmnorman tweeted: “Cucu Najib pun ikut lawatan kerja. Dahsyat kecik2 dah pandai pikir masa depan negara.”
(Najib’s grandson also attends working visits. Unbelievable. So little and yet already able to think of the nation’s future.)
Another Twitter user Zulkiplee Mahdi commented: “Looks like planning for asylum than a working visit, as his political career is on shaky ground n court trial awaits him, if he loses GE14.”
On the Pakatan Harapan Supporters page, which posted the delegation list snapshot, Facebook user Lasu Lutah commented: “nak pindahkah?” (Are they moving?)
Aminuddin Uziz on Facebook also commented that it looked as if Najib and family were moving abroad and not coming back.
“Tapi baguih jugak p tak balik dah (but it is good too if they are not coming back),” he wrote in the Facebook group Rakyat Bersama SPRM.
@OrenjiRenOren, who was not impressed by the PMO statement, wrote on Twitter: “Lawatan kerja atas jemputan.. Yg dijemput Najib.. Yg pi satu famili siap bawak anak cucu tu ape kejadahnya?? Ingat ni jemputan kenduri kawen ka??” (Working visit by invitation. The one invited was Najib. Why has the whole family gone including the children and grandchild? Do they think it’s a wedding party?)