Former Malaysian PM denies stealing RM600 billion

Former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin blasted critics who claimed he stole RM600 billion from government finances during the Covid-19 outbreak, challenging their source of the money and refuting the claims.

The Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman and Pagoh MP said that Hulu Langat MP Mohd Sany Hamzan had filed a police report against him in the case and that newly-minted Digital Communications Minister Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil had made a similar claim.

“Going back to allegations of misappropriating funds amounting to RM600 billion, I am not sure where this figure is being cited. I think it refers to the eight Economic Stimulus Packages worth RM530 billion that I implemented when I was prime minister, to help the people and businesses affected during the pandemic,” he said in a statement.

Out of the RM530 billion, Muhyiddin said that the majority was non-fiscal and did not involve government spending, making it hard for him to misappropriate.

No control over how budget was used

Muhyiddin claimed that although serving as prime minister at the time, he had no control over how the aforementioned sum was used.

The expenditure involving government funds in the form of fiscal injections, according to the finance minister’s statement on June 29, 2021, is worth RM83 billion.

This includes RM5 billion spent on the purchase of vaccines and direct cash assistance like wage subsidies worth RM20.92 billion, Bantuan Prihatin National (RM18.2 billion), Geran Khas Prihatin (RM4.21 billion), Geran Khas Prihatin Permai (RM842 million), and the Bumiputera Easy Financing Scheme (RM500 million).

“Not a single penny of this money went into my personal account. It doesn’t make sense that people’s aid money that is directly deposited into their account can be diverted into my account.

“If this happens, it will of course be known through the audit findings made by the National Audit Department (NAD) every year. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will of course present a report on it in Parliament,” he said.

“It is impossible for NAD or PAC to overlook it. This is no small thing. It’s a big deal. In fact, Bank Negara Malaysia must have received a notification about the movement of a large sum of money into my account and an investigation started over a year ago. But there was nothing. To infer that I would have halted investigations as prime minister is also not right as I had already resigned as prime minister over a year ago,” he added.

“Not afraid” of being investigated

Muhyiddin claimed that the Ministry of Finance (MoF), in particular the Unit for the Implementation and Coordination of National Agencies on the Economic Stimulus Package (Laksana), would have all the information regarding the costs associated with the eight Economic Stimulus Packages that were put into effect while he was prime minister.

“I’m not afraid of being investigated because I know I’m not misusing the people’s money entrusted to the government to be used for the purpose of helping the people during difficult times.

“My only message to the politicians of Pakatan Harapan and Umno, don’t get busy pointing fingers at others by making false accusations just to cover up the weaknesses of the government that is only a few days old, which still seems to not have any smart ideas to solve the people’s problems. You have become a government, act like a government,” he added.

Following concerns about PN’s well-funded campaign in the run-up to the 15th general election, calls for an official investigation into the stimulus expenditure have increased.

The party comprises Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and the Islamist party, PAS.

Muhyiddin assumed government just as the disastrous Covid-19 pandemic began, with each day of lockdown thought to have cost as much as RM2.4 billion.

After resigning, he carried on managing the country’s transition into the endemic stage for the National Recovery Council.