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Pacific News Minute: Prime Minister Implicated in $3.5B Theft from Malaysian Government

en.kremlin.ru via CC

Come next Monday, a new law in Malaysia will give the government of embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak sweeping new powers. The government describes the National Security Council act as an anti-terrorism law, but critics say it could be used to suppress dissent amid the growing scandal at a government development fund...we have more, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

In Washington last week, the Justice department issued a series of complaints that allege that the prime minister's stepson, his close friends and associates siphoned three and a half billion dollars from 1MDB, a Malaysian government development fund established by Najib Razak, who also served as the chairman of its board until recently.  Najib himself was not named, but the report cites a high ranking government official it calls "Malaysian Official One" and multiple news agencies cite sources as saying, yes, that's the Prime Minister Himself.  The Justice department wants to seize a billion dollars’ worth of stuff purchased with the stolen money, including a deluxe apartment overlooking Central Park and paintings by Picasso and Monet...money also went to fund production of the movie, "The Wolf of Wall Street."

The Prime Minister denies he did anything wrong.

The new National Security Council act allows the prime minister to designate any part of the country as a security zone...an apartment, a building, a neighborhood an entire city...inside the zone, authorities have unlimited power to search anyone or anything without a warrant and, should anyone be killed, no official inquest would be required.  Civil rights activist Ambiga Sreenavasan told Reuters, "I think the government are getting nervous about 1MDB and the reaction of the people."  Two opposition groups plan rallies in the coming days...On Monday, a senior police official said he would shut down any rally that demands the prime minister's resignation.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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