Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has sacked his deputy, four ministers and an attorney general investigating the premier for corruption. Critics have called the prime minister's reshuffle a "purge."
Facing the largest crisis of his incumbency, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday sacked Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail, who was investigating the premier over allegations of embezzlement, along with his deputy Muhiddin Yassin and four others during a cabinet reshuffle.
"I can accept differences in opinion and criticisms as part of the decision-making process, but these differences in opinion should not be made in an open forum that can affect the public perception of the government and the country," Razak said in a televised announcement.
The prime minister has been targeted in recent months by an ongoing corruption investigation led by Patail.
The former attorney general said earlier this month that he received documents from investigators showing $700 million being transferred to the premier's account from the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a development company owned by the government.
"The decision to replace Muhyiddin was a very difficult one, but I had to do it so that a strong team can move forward," noted Razak during the announcement.
However, critics slammed the premier over the decision, calling it a "purge."
"The purge commences. The Attorney-General is replaced. Any flicker of hope that the prime minister might be charged for misdeeds is extinguished," said opposition MP Tony Pua in a statement on his official Facebook page.
Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of Malaysia's Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), also criticized the move, saying it raised "questions about the integrity of the government."
"The time and the way this reshuffle was done seem to imply that the Prime Minister wants only to silence his critics and to stop any possible criminal prosecution," Wan Jan said.
The graft scandal has threatened his United Malays National Organization (UMNO) - the majority party in the National Front coalition, which has held onto power since the country gained independence in 1957.
ls/jil (AP, Reuters, dpa)