Malaysia's Immigration Department said Saturday that former scandal-ridden Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife are barred from leaving the country, shortly after he announced plans for a short holiday. A leaked flight manifest shows Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor were due to leave on a private jet on Saturday to Jakarta, fueling rumors he was fleeing the country to escape possible prosecution over a massive corruption scandal involving the 1MDB state fund. His coalition suffered a shocking electoral defeat this week that ended its 60 year-rule. Najib said he respected the department's ruling and will stay with his family in the country. His holiday plans come as strong calls emerged from his ruling Malay party, which dominates the National Front coalition, for Najib to step down over the election results, reports the AP.
The National Front, which has ruled Malaysia since its independence from Britain, obtained only 79 of the 222 parliamentary seats, losing power to Mahathir Mohamad's four-party alliance amid public anger over the 1MDB scandal and rising cost of living. Mahathir, who is now the world's oldest elected leader at 92, has said his government will not go on a witch-hunt over the 1MDB fiasco but that Najib will have to face the court if he's found to be responsible. The fund was started by Najib when he took power in 2009, but it accumulated billions in debts and is being investigated in the US and several other countries. US investigators said Najib's associates stole and looted $4.5 billion from the fund, of which some $700 million landed in Najib's bank account and some $30 million was used to buy jewelry for his wife.