KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has taken a swipe at ex-premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak, labelling the latter as the country's first VIP criminal for being able to leave the country despite being found guilty by the courts.
He said the Court of Appeal's decision last Monday of approving Najib's application for the temporary return of his passport was "a bizarre case".
Najib, through his lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had applied for a temporary release of his travel document to accompany his daughter Nooryana Najwa who is expected to give birth in early November in Singapore.
A three-man Court of Appeal allowed Najib's application after finding that there were reasonable grounds for him to get back the document but ordered him to return his passport to the court on Nov 22.
"This is a bizarre case. Najib looks healthy when he goes to the Parliament and campaigning but he becomes sick when he needs to enter the courts.
"And now he can get his passport back. Not only that, after he was allowed to get his passport back, he decided to postpone his (trip to Singapore) to help (his party) with the campaigning (in Melaka).
"Usually, when someone is found guilty and sentenced to prison time, they would have to serve their time but (Najib) gets escorted like a VIP.
"He is Malaysia's first criminal VIP," he said during a press conference aired live on social media platforms today.
Najib, 68, is awaiting the Court of Appeal's decision on his appeal against his conviction, 12-year jail sentence, and RM210 million fine after he was found guilty on seven charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering, and abuse of position involving RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
After his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor applied for her passport to be temporarily released to be with Nooryana in Singapore, Najib had made a similar application.
However, last Friday, Najib said he was seeking to push his trip to Singapore to a later date to assist Umno in the upcoming Melaka state election on Nov 20.
In his amended notice of motion, Najib sought a court order to have his passport returned to him from Oct 25 until Dec 12.