Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has reportedly taken a government jet to go on another family holiday.
According to a report by JawaPos.com dated June 27, Najib and his entourage arrived in Bali a day earlier, aboard an aircraft with the tail number 9M-NAA, which is one of few government jets used for VVIP transport
Other Indonesian media referred to the jet as “royal aircraft” or “private jet”, and said it had arrived at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali at 12:53pm.
They reported that Najib and 23 others were greeted on the tarmac by Bali officials, including the island’s Governor Made Mangku Pastika, before being escorted to St Regis Hotel in Nusa Dua, under tight security.
Press photos of the occasion showed an aircraft’s left engine and rear fuselage in the background, with its tail number out-of-sight.
However, the livery on these components appears to be consistent to those of 9M-NAA, and those of another government VVIP jet 9M-NAB.
Najib and his family were reported to have stayed in Bali until June 30, before departing to continue their holidays in Perth, Australia. It is not clear what mode of transport was used for this leg of the trip.
Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed had previously said that Najib is entitled to use the government jet for holidays.
Nur Jazlan said that while Najib may make personal transport arrangements, there are other issues to be considered.
“Sometimes, for security purposes and to keep the entourage as one, maybe it is better for him (Najib) to use his facilities as prime minister to deal with the transportation required for his vacation,” he told Malaysiakini early this year.
However, the matter remains a contentious issue for opposition politicians.
Following Najib’s year-end holiday in Australia last year using the same aircraft, for example, DAP Youth chief Wong Kah Woh accused Najib of abusing the government jet for non-official purposes.
Flight tracking services removed
DAP Youth committee member Jenny Choy also lodged a police report and urged the police to investigate the matter as a case of abuse of power.
Since the trip had come under public scrutiny, the several online flight tracking services have removed public access to tracks of the two government jets as “per request from the owner/operator”.
Apart from Najib, others entitled to use the VVIP jets are the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Raja Permaisuri Agong, and the deputy prime minister, according to a May 2015 parliamentary reply.
However, the conditions for the use of the jets use are not clear, including whether reimbursements are to be made if the aircraft is used for private purposes.
Malaysiakini had previously highlighted how spouses and family members of heads of other democracies may be allowed to use government jets of their respective countries.
The Canadian prime minister and his family, for example, are not allowed aboard commercial flights, even while on holidays, for security reasons.
However, each family member would have to reimburse taxpayers for the cost of an equivalent economy class ticket.
The US has a similar practice in place, except that the family members are expected to pay the cost of an equivalent first-class flight, in addition to the cost of their own in-flight meals.