KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysians have swung behind a social media campaign to hand chocolates to police in a rebuke of ousted leader Najib Razak, who complained officers combing his family’s properties for evidence of corruption helped themselves to their sweets.
Najib ruled Malaysia for nearly 10 years and is accused of siphoning millions of dollars from the country’s coffers. He fell precipitously from grace after his long-ruling coalition’s surprise defeat in a May 9 election.
He has consistently denied wrongdoing but a complaint, made through his lawyer, that investigating police had gobbled food and chocolate from the fridge during a search for evidence drew a furious reaction online, prompting the #chocs4cops campaign.
“When that came out, I really felt strongly about that,” said lawyer Siti Kasim, who organised a Facebook event to deliver chocolates to police stations on Saturday that has since drawn thousands of comments and promises to participate online.
“My instinct was, ‘what a meanie’, you know? You want to complain about someone eating your chocolate? I mean how ridiculous,” she said. “To me it is a very stupid thing to cry over.”
The searches of Najib’s home and properties linked with his family in a plush condominium in downtown Kuala Lumpur netted nearly 300 boxes of luxury handbags, watches, jewels and piles of cash, drawing an outcry in a country where the leader’s official salary is about $120,000.
“Mr Najib, you made an issue when police ate chocolates from your fridge, but how about you ate all our money,” Sherman Pravin, whose profile says he is a drummer from Kuala Lumpur, wrote on Twitter.
Najib’s lawyer, Harpal Singh Grewal, who made the initial complaint, said he did not know what type of chocolates Najib was concerned about. “They were important to my client, who told me to include that in the statement,” he said.
Amar Singh, director of the police’s commercial crime investigation department, has promised “stern action ... if the allegations are found to be true”.
Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Angie Teo; Editing by Paul Tait