Zafrul confirms Cabinet discussion after Dr M queries about RM100m housing for Najib

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz confirmed that the Cabinet has discussed the request from former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak for a piece of land and house worth RM100 million.

This came after Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Pejuang-Langkawi) questioned why Najib’s request for an RM100-million piece of land and house was not included in Budget 2022.

“The Finance Minister should explain every item in the Budget but now I find that there is an item that is not mentioned in the Budget.

“This is about the gift for the former prime minister Najib, who will be given a piece of land and house worth RM100 million because of his supposed contributions to the country.

“I want to know what were his contributions? As far as I know, he is a convict who has been sentenced to 12 years of jail and a compound more than RM200 million,” Mahathir had asked.

He had interjected Zafrul during the latter’s winding-up speech for Budget 2022 in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Zafrul had initially attempted to deflect the question by asking Mahathir to point his query towards the Prime Minister’s Department as the privileges for former prime ministers is under the ambit of that department.

However, when pushed by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Independent-Muar), Zafrul acknowledged that Najib’s request had been discussed by the Cabinet.

“Yes, we have received the request and we have discussed it in the Cabinet.

“Now we have to wait for the Cabinet’s decision to be finalised,” Zafrul said.

Saddiq had noted this is the first confirmation that there was such a request from Najib.

He lamented that the government had used lack of money as an excuse when the opposition asked for permanent positions for contract doctors or for additional aid during the pandemic.

“But for one person, one individual, we want to approve RM100 million.

“If we approve such a thing, our name, dignity and conscience will be on the line. I hope the other MPs here will consider this properly,” Saddiq said.

The revelation by Zafrul prompted a number of opposition MPs to voice out their dissatisfaction, including Mahfuz Omar (Harapan-Pokok Sena), RSN Rayer (Harapan-Jelutong), Gobind Singh Deo (Harapan-Puchong) and Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar), among others.

Mahfuz had questioned whether Cabinet has given its preliminary agreement to Najib’s request as he nitpicked on Zafrul’s choice of words.

“You said it has not been finalised yet, but is there already a preliminary agreement?” he asked.

In response to that, the smiling Zafrul made a face while turning briefly to look at his fellow members of the administration with one hand raised slightly.

Mahfuz claimed this was a sign that there has been a preliminary agreement.

Zafrul insisted he was only talking about the request and explained that this matter was not included in Budget 2022 as the request was made after the budget was tabled.

“Hence for this to be implemented, it will be brought in the surplus budget bill,” he said.

His ambiguous wording incited the anger of the opposition MPs, who believe his answer means the request has been approved.

As the opposition MPs started interjecting one after another, Zafrul struggled to cut in through the chaos to explain.

“As I said earlier, this request was made after budget was tabled and as such, it did not receive an estimation in Budget 2022.

“As you know, any additional spending after that will have to be brought in the surplus budget bill,” he said.

However, when Gobind pushed him to confirm whether a decision has been made by Cabinet with regards to the request and what the basis for the decision was, Zafrul ignored him.

He reiterated that anything related to the privileges of former prime ministers is under the care of the Prime Minister’s Department and continued on with his speech.

It was formerly reported based on a source that Najib had requested a privilege from the government in the form of a 2.8-acre residential property worth RM100 million in Kuala Lumpur.

He had invoked a little known act which gives special privileges and allowances to former prime ministers, including the ownership of properties and land belonging to the government.

The source had also claimed that the request had been approved, though it was drawing protests from ministers and senior officials.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million last year after he was found guilty of seven counts of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power involving RM42 million in funds from former 1MDB unit SRC International.

His appeal against the conviction is still pending. MKINI

Chaos in Parliament after Dr M reveals ‘land, home worth RM100mil’ reward for Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Chaos erupted in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (Nov 18) when it was revealed the government was considering rewarding Datuk Seri Najib Razak with land and a home worth RM100mil.

The incident was sparked after former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad stood up when Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz was wrapping-up his ministerial replies on Budget 2022, to ask if the RM100mil “gift” to Najib was part of the Budget.

“All government expenditure under the Budget must be tabled in Parliament.

“But there is an item which is not included which has become the talk of many.

“He will be gifted land and a home worth RM100mil supposedly for his contributions to the nation.

“This was not mentioned in the Budget and we want to know what are his contributions because as far as we know, he is a convict who has been sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined over RM200mil.

“Is this the contribution which the government wants to reward?” Dr Mahathir asked.

Dr Mahathir said it was made known to him that the RM60mil was for the purchase of a piece of land and RM40mil was to construct a home for Najib.

“I understand that the Cabinet approved this.

“You are part of the Cabinet, don’t you know about it?” he said.

Zafrul acknowledged there was an application submitted to the Cabinet.

“It was not included in the Budget as the application was made after the Budget was tabled.

“The matter is under discussions and a final decision has yet to be made,” he said.

When pressed further on details of the RM100mil, Zafrul said that the question should be directed to the Prime Minister’s Department.

He said the department was in charge of allowances and privileges accorded to former prime ministers as provided under the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980.

Several other Opposition MPs also stood up to question Zafrul including Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) who asked where the allocation would come from if it was not included in the Budget.

Zafrul said a separate Bill would have to be tabled if there are any additional expenditures that were not included under the present Budget.

Several Opposition MPs continued to badger Zafrul who wanted to go on with his ministerial replies.

Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun ordered MPs to stop their interjection and sit down or he would boot them out of the House for refusing to do so.

“Sit down, I am, two,” he said amid the continued ruckus from the floor.

He then ordered RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) to leave the House for 10 minutes.

There was a tense moment shortly after Zafrul concluded his ministerial replies when the Budget was put to the House for a vote by Azhar.

Several Opposition MPs from Parti Warisan Sabah were seen standing as Mohd Azis called on Azhar for a block vote.

However, Azhar noted there were insufficient numbers of MPs required for a bloc vote to be held.

A total of 15 MPs are required to call for a bloc vote, which involves votes being tallied.

Azhar informed the House that Budget 2022 was passed at the policy stage by a voice vote after it was put to the House for a vote.

Debates on the budget will resume at the committee stage this coming Monday (Nov 22). ANN