KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak today defended his decision to sack two of his former cabinet ministers and also maintained that he was not that stupid to have stolen money banked into his personal accounts.
The Pekan member of parliament made it a point to state that the current Prime Minister, too, had removed many ministers.
He said this without outrightly mentioning Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s name when making the point.
Najib broached the subject when he was asked about Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal’s sacking from the cabinet at the height of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
His lawyer Farhan Read had asked him to explain why he sacked Muhyiddin - who was then the deputy prime minister, and Shafee - who was then Rural and Regional Development minister.
Najib said he did not sack them due to their opposition on how he was handling the SRC International Berhad and 1MDB controversies but because they were publicly condemning how the issues were being handled.
“If you are a cabinet member, you are bound by the principle of collective responsibility.
“This does not mean you cannot disagree but the disagreement should be confined within the cabinet.
“Cabinet discussions are subject to the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Both of them were removed because they failed to abide by this,” he said.
Najib then pointed out that even the current prime minister had removed many more ministers in the past than him.
He said it was important to show that there was unity in the cabinet to avoid problems.
“Can you imagine how problematic it can become when the prime minister says one thing and the ministers contradict him like what is happening now,” he said.
It was reported Muhyiddin and Shafie were removed from the cabinet in 2015 after both of them started to openly criticise 1MDB.
Meanwhile, when asked about SRC International’s money which ended in his account, Najib said it was ludicrous to suggest that he had siphoned money from Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOF inc) into his own account.
“If I wanted to cheat, I would have been a stupid person to put it into my personal account.
“I may not be the most intelligent person but I am not so stupid as to put stolen money into my personal account,” he said.
Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is expected to continue with the re-examination before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali tomorrow.
The 66-year-old former prime minister is accused of money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving RM42 million of SRC International funds.