Malaysia PM under scrutiny over wealth, opposition crackdown
Malaysia's premier is under mounting scrutiny for cracking down on opponents, troubles in a strategic development fund and questions over his family assets, with even ruling-party conservatives questioning his leadership.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, 61, took the helm of the multi-ethnic country's long-ruling regime in 2009, promising to soothe racial tensions and bolster democracy.
But he is under fire from progressives for abandoning such pledges and from ruling-party hardliners over 1MDB — a development vehicle he launched that is believed to be in a precarious state.
"People are beginning to doubt whether he is the sort of leader who can address Malaysia's problems," said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of Malaysian think-tank IDEAS.
Malaysia also drew international criticism after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed for five years last week on a sodomy conviction widely considered politically motivated, the latest in a crackdown on Najib's opponents.
1MDB, meanwhile, has missed repeated deadlines to pay down billions of dollars in debts, according to Malaysian media reports, with questions swirling around the whereabouts of huge sums.
1MDB said a $560 million loan payment was finally made last week, after a Malaysian billionaire was reportedly drafted in to stump up the cash.
Also last week, a New York Times investigative report detailed multi-million-dollar purchases of luxury US real estate by a close Najib family associate, financier Low Taek Jho, whom various reports have linked to 1MDB.
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