Former Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin Charged With Abuse of Power and Money Laundering
Malaysia's former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin was charged with four counts of abuse of power and two counts of money laundering in a Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Friday. The charges stem from projects valued at 232.5 million ringgit (S$51.4 million) launched during Muhyiddin's short tenure as prime minister between March 2020 and August 2021. The charges come after Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim ordered a review of government projects worth billions of dollars approved by Muhyiddin, including Covid-19 relief programmes, which he said did not follow proper procedures.
On Thursday, Muhyiddin was taken into custody after he came forward to be questioned in connection with the Jana Wibawa scheme. The plan was developed to aid ethnic Malay contractors as part of a COVID-19 relief package and was part of a government policy of affirmative action. Later on in the day, he was let out on bail.
If found guilty, he could be looking at up to 20 years in prison for the four corruption charges, plus an extra 15 years for the two money-laundering charges, as well as a hefty fine. A bail of 2 million Malaysian ringgit ($442,674) was granted to Muhyiddin by the judge, who also requested that he surrender his passport.
The Jana Wibawa initiative was started in order to support Bumiputera – a term that encompasses the Malay majority and indigenous minorities – contractors during the Covid-19 crisis. Tengku Zafrul Aziz, now the Minister of International Trade and Industry, first envisioned it while he was serving as the Finance Minister.
The 1MDB scandal, uncovered in 2015 by journalists and showing the misappropriation of $4.5 billion from public funds by former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his associates, is still being discussed as a new corruption case has erupted. This scandal contributed to Najib's ousting in May 2018, when he lost the general elections.
Anwar, the Prime Minister, declared that he has not meddled in the graft probes involving Muhyiddin and has instead left it in the hands of the law enforcement agencies. Anwar's government was cautioned that they would “will be punished by the people” in the state elections from the people.
In the general election that took place last November, the race for the premiership between Muhyiddin and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was very close, resulting in a hung parliament.
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