PUTRAJAYA (May 16): Former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail was preparing to press charges against ousted premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak, before his services was terminated "due to health reasons", said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
At a press conference today, the new prime minister said he met Abdul Gani yesterday to find out more about what happened, before the former AG was removed.
"He claimed that he was preparing to charge Najib, (but) that morning, he was deprived from going to office," Dr Mahathir said.
Abdul Gani, who had been heading a task force to investigate the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal, was abruptly terminated on July 27, 2015. Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa had said Abdul Gani's removal was due to health reasons.
However, Abdul Gani continued to officially serve as a judicial and legal service officer, until his retirement on Oct 5, 2015.
Dr Mahathir today also said that the new government will focus on resolving corruption issues, particularly the misappropriation of money in the 1MDB case.
"There is plenty of evidence, not only on Najib, but also other people who are involved. We will take action and make police reports. When it is necessary to arrest, we will make the arrest according to the law. There will not be any torture," he said, stressing police will adhere to the rule law, when investigating corruption.
The new government is committed to recovering money misappropriated from 1MDB, from foreign authorities that had conducted their investigations previously, Dr Mahathir reiterated.
"Before this, there was no claim, as the government did not acknowledge that the funds came from 1MDB. The total sum is quite big; can help us settle a few debts," Mahathir said.
Asked if Najib is currently under house arrest, Dr Mahathir said: "As far as I'm concerned, he is not allowed to leave the country, that is the order".
"(There is “definitely no deal (for immunity), I said that we will follow the rule of law, the law applies to everyone, irrespective of personalities," he added.
Apart from reducing corruption and national debt, Dr Mahathir said the new government has begun laying off civil servants who are political appointees, as part of an effort the downsize the government.
"There are 17,000 people who are political appointees. We have to sort out this. We want to reduce government expenditure, so some contracted officers were affected. In the former government, there were some given administration work as usual, but there were also political appointees.
“Some (civil servants’) salaries are low, they might need the job for survival. We will give them other positions," Dr Mahathir said.
On the Anti-Fake News Act, Dr Mahathir said the legislation needed to be studied, before a decision is made on repealing it.
"We will have Parliament sitting as soon as possible, so that we can work on laws that we need to repeal," he said.
With regards to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir said the PKR de facto leader will take up a role in his own party.
"He is not a member of parliament, therefore his role would be within the party. Tomorrow, I will have a meeting of the Pakatan Harapan presidential council. We are all appointed by the council, so from there, we decide," the premier said.
Dr Mahathir said he has given instruction to the government to not collect the Goods and Services Tax (GST) anymore.
"We will also try to pay back those who claimed that the government has collected more than it should," he added.
On petrol prices, Mahathir said the retail prices will remain the same at the moment, and that the government will provide a subsidy if the market price climbs.