Gifts And The Moral Dimension

Former premier Najib Abdul Razak said the valuation of the items, particularly jewellery, seized from residences linked to him are subjective and unrealistic…..

“So let us not get too excited about it. Let us look at the items, every single item, and we hope to have a chance to examine these items. And (then) we can come to a conclusion on the source of the items and get an explanation on the items seized by the police,” he told Malaysiakini in an exclusive interview at the news portal’s office in Petaling Jaya this afternoon.

Najib said like any husband, he was not aware of the extent of his wife Rosmah Mansor’s collection of jewellery and other items….

“But what I do know is that over the years as head of the government, we have been gifted with a lot of items by foreign leaders as well as personal friends and I do know that under the law it is not illegal to receive gifts. These gifts were accumulated over decades,” he said.

“For example, (Prime Minister) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) admitted to receiving 40 horses from his friends and foreign leaders, and he openly uses a lot of corporate jets from his friends so it is not illegal to receive gifts,” he added.

Our comment

In fact, there are strict rules governing gifts to ruling political figures, for obvious and very good reasons.

For a light hearted reminder of those reasons view the funny BBC episode of Yes Minister – The Moral Dimension, covering the antics of the UK spoof minister, Jim Hacker in an un-named Middle Eastern state.

It makes clear that the limit on a gift should be a paltry value of around RM250 (although Hacker’s aide turns a blind eye with disastrous result, thanks to an investigative journalist, who gets on the case).

Certainly, gifts of RM2.6 billion fall outside the limit. Likewise, the hoard of treasures accumulated by his appalling wife.

Najib may dismiss the matter as ‘trivial’, but unless he is still appointing judges, he is unlikely to find a sympathetic ear in court and would save everyone a lot of time, trouble and expense – quite apart from the continuing international embarrassment – by just pleading guilty and shutting up!

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