Just yesterday (June 27), the whole of Malaysia was appalled when the police finally released the official statement regarding the total value of the items seized from former prime minister, Najib Razak’s residences. After all, the grand total came up to a whopping RM1.1 billion!
This has put Najib in deeper trouble than he was before, but he didn’t keep quiet about it as he tried to justify himself recently.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, he called the value of the items seized “subjective and unrealistic”, and said that the prices of the jewellery varied according to the source of the stones, when they were gifted, and when they were purchased.
“We need to know the dates of the gifts, like jewellery items. As you know, prices of stones acquired or gifted 20 years ago are much less (then) because the price of stones have increased significantly so it depends on what valuation and when the valuation was made,” he said.
“Valuations can tend to differ. So let us not get too excited about it. Let us look at the items, every single item, and we hope to have a chance to examine these items and we can come to a conclusion on the source of the items and can get an explanation on the items seized by the police.”
Najib then explained that he had no knowledge about the extent of the collection of jewellery and other items that apparently belonged to his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, reported New Straits Times.
He said that the list of items he received was not detailed enough, “incomplete” with “vague descriptions”, and lacked photographs.
“But what I do know is that over the years, as head of the government, we have been gifted with a lot of items by foreign leaders as well as personal friends and I do know that under the law it is not illegal to receive gifts. These gifts were accumulated over decades.”
“For example, (Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) admitted to receiving 40 horses from his friends and foreign leaders, and he openly uses a lot of corporate jets from his friends so it is not illegal to receive gifts,” he said.
Apparently, Rosmah too was surprised at the amount of items that were seized, and did not believe that they would amount up to RM1 billion.
Najib claimed that the jewellery had come from jewellers who sent the items to him and Rosmah for viewing, and were to be returned after that, adding that the jewellers had written in to legally claim back the items.
Justifying himself further, he also claimed that a big sum of the jewellery belonged to their daughter, Nooryana Najwa, her husband and mother-in-law, and denied that they were Rosmah’s.
“But let us not jump to any conclusions at this stage. Let us examine the items individually,” he said.
When Najib was asked if it was ethical to accept such valuable gifts, Najib defended himself by saying that Michelle Obama, former United States First Lady, had received millions from the late Saudi Arabia ruler.
“And when King Salman visited Indonesia recently, he also gave millions worth of gifts. So some of these monarchs in certain countries, it’s part of their culture to give costly items,” he said.
“Items given to me by these monarchs, I have not used them. I have kept them because I don’t use very expensive things, as my friends know. I don’t use any watches that contain valuable stones.”
Najib said he plans to have a galleria to place all these gifts.
“That was my intention. You know, put them in an exhibit because really those things… I have never used. I know some expensive rings were given but I have never used them because I know they were expensive and I know as a leader I shouldn’t use them and they will not be used and they will be part of the galleria one day,” he said.
According to The Edge Markets, he also said, “We have no system in this country for declaring gifts. I actually suggested in 2010 that there should be, when it came to donations, that we should have a system of transparency and we should record the donations with some independent body. I had that specific proposal, but at that time, it was rejected by the opposition, who are now part of the government.”
Meanwhile, Malay Mail reports that the police said they see no problem if Najib wants to have a look at the items that were seized.
What do you think about Najib’s claim that the value of the seized items are “subjective and unrealistic”? Let us know in the comments below.
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