At least a dozen armed policemen entered the home of ousted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak late on Wednesday after he returned from prayers at a mosque, Reuters witnesses said. State news agency Bernama said several dozen policemen were also seen at a luxury condominium in another district of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, where Najib has an apartment. There was no word on what operation was being carried out by the police, whose firearms appeared from a distance to be rifles. A police spokeswoman could not be contacted for comment.
More than 100 journalists and onlookers were outside Najib’s family home past midnight. The events were being streamed live on Facebook by local media and one account had attracted nearly 8,000 viewers.
Najib’s long-ruling political coalition was defeated in a general election last week, and just days later new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad barred him and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, from leaving the country. Mahathir, 92, has said there is sufficient evidence to investigate a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which was founded by Najib.
Najib, once Mahathir’s protege, has denied any wrongdoing. The scandal is being investigated by police in at least six countries, including the United States. Mahathir has replaced the attorney-general and officials at the anti-graft agency, in what appears to be a purge of people seen as close to the former premier.
Earlier on Wednesday, jailed reformist Anwar Ibrahim was granted a full pardon and freed, underlining the dramatic changes in the Southeast Asian country in the last seven days. Anwar teamed up with Mahathir, his ally-turned-foe-turned-ally, to oust Najib. However, the relationship between the two remains volatile, and will largely determine what course Malaysia will chart in the coming months.
Anwar, 70, said he would like to take time off with his family and did not intend to join the cabinet any time soon. He said he would support the government led by Mahathir and Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is Anwar’s wife. “I’ve told Tun Mahathir, I don’t need to serve in the cabinet for now,” Anwar said, using an honorific for the prime minister.
Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy in the 1990s but fell out with his mentor during the Asian financial crisis. He was sacked from the ruling party and founded the Reformasi (Reform) movement, challenging Mahathir’s government. Within weeks, he was arrested and jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption.