by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA
FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture; right) will still be an MP until the Parliament is dissolved, if he could challenge the bankruptcy notice issued on Tuesday by the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) at the High Court.
Lawyer GK Ganesan said the bankruptcy notice could take months or several years, depending on the court, should Najib opt to challenge it.
“If he is declared bankrupt which will usually take between two months and a year to be ordered, at that point he will be disqualified from contesting for elections. If he is an MP, he will lose that status,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday.
“If the bankruptcy notice is not challenged, a creditor’s petition (CP) must be filed (by LHDN) and that, too, can still be disputed by Najib.
“(At this stage) if the notice is challenged and Najib fails, LHDN can file a CP.
“If the CP is challenged, the court will set down a ‘hearing date’ for the CP for Najib to fight,” the lawyer explained.
On Tuesday, Najib said on his Facebook post that he was served with a bankruptcy notice by LHDN for failing to pay a tax bill totalling RM1.74 billion. It includes arrears of payment that LHDN said he did not pay since 2011.
In response, he had asked his lawyer to obtain a stay order.
He said the case is related to RM3 billion that was put into an account under his name, which was used to receive donations for corporate social responsibilities and political purposes.
“I will use all my capabilities to come up with the best appeal alongside my lawyers, to help the wise judges make a decision based on truth,” Najib said.
The bankruptcy notice came as he began his appeal against his conviction last year on charges in a case involving millions he received from a former unit of state fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
The court ruled in 2020 that Najib must pay RM1.69 billion in taxes, but the latter disputed and due to further interest, the number ballooned to RM1.74 billion.
The LHDN notice dated Feb 4 came while Najib and his two sons, Datuk Mohd Nizar and Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin, were appealing against the High Court’s summary judgements for LHDN to recover the sum from them.
As it is, the process to challenge the bankruptcy notice will also be quite messy and time consuming, said Ganesan.
“If Najib wins, that is the end for both the bankruptcy notice and also the CP. But, if he loses, he becomes bankrupt. Then, he is disqualified as an MP.
“So, it is not true if he will become a bankrupt person by next week, or next couple of months,” Ganesan added.
Meanwhile, political analysts are of the view that the bankruptcy notice will be used towards creating sympathy for the former Umno president.
Universiti Malaya political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said while the matter is still subject for challenge, the move to send a notice of bankruptcy to the Pekan MP will raise more queries from the public.
“This is the first time in history that a politician was issued such a huge amount by the taxmen. It is an extraordinary sum of bill which we never heard any corporation or tycoon was charged with,” Awang Azman said.
“As such, this would add more political sympathy towards Najib, with people tending to think if there is a case against Najib, it involves any elements of politics,” he told TMR.
Awang Azman said the sentiment would become bigger against the current government after a news portal reported a leaked audio recording allegedly between Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over decision to sever ties with Perikatan Nasional (PN).
Ahmad Zahid, however, dismissed the report, saying he will take legal action against the matter.
“As both incidents happened next to another, the perception could link the inclination of both Najib and Ahmad Zahid’s stance, who clearly want to abandon the PN bloc,” Awang Azman said.
It is noted that PN is ruling with a razor-thin majority in the Dewan Rakyat, and the pressure is heightened for PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to allow the Parliament to reconvene despite the country is still in the emergency period.
This risks the collapse of the PN administration, noting that some Umno MPs may opt to abandon the alliance and state their stance in the Parliament session.
Read our previous report here