THERE was no filming by the media of Datuk Seri Najib Razak in prison, the Prisons Department clarified today following a viral video of the imprisoned former prime minister which netizens claimed showed he was campaigning from behind bars.
Instead, checks by the prison authorities found that the video was recorded much earlier by Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) for a travel documentary series – before Najib was sent to the Kajang Prison in August.
It added that the 57th episode of the Kembara Keluarga Malaysia series, which aired on TV1 yesterday (Oct 24), dived into the history and background of Pekan, in Pahang (Najib’s incumbent MP seat), and “had nothing to do with politics”.
“The public is advised not to spread information without further checking,” the Prisons Department said in a brief statement. “Legal action can be taken against irresponsible individuals.”
In clippets of the video that made its way on social media, Najib, dressed in a light brown batik shirt, addresses the audience from a sofa and what appeared to be a stained glass behind him.
The rumour mill went into overdrive after a news crawler at the bottom of the screen reported on the death of former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s mother, Datin Mariah Khamis, who died yesterday – indicating that the Najib video was current.
Many on social media questioned how Najib could be on air and speculated that it was so the country’s first imprisoned former prime minister could campaign for UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN) ahead of the Nov 19 polls.
Ever since Najib was sent to prison following the Federal Court’s decision on Aug 23, 2022, to uphold his RM42 mil SRC International corruption case guilty verdict and 12-year sentence, allegations that he has been receiving better treatment than other convicts have spread like wildfire.
This includes having his prison cell renovated with a TV, shelves and three beds, a “house” for him being built on the prison grounds and a somewhat “questionable” stay at the Cheras Rehabilitation Centre for mere physiotherapy – all of which have been debunked or talked down by the relevant authorities and Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Some have also questioned how Najib’s influential Facebook page – which boasts some 4.6 million followers – continues to post updates despite his being in jail; however, this is easily explainable by the fact that a number of admins run his account.
Reports also indicate that while Najib has been put into an isolation cell with the same facilities as the special cells holding other prisoners who also require high-security care, he still takes cold showers and eats the same prison food as other inmates.
Allegations of preferential treatment for “well-connected” prisoners are nothing new in Malaysia; in 1989, the nation was shocked when corporate figure Abdullah Ang, who was also held in Kajang Prison, was reported as regularly commuting between jail and his family’s factory in Kuala Lumpur. – Oct 25, 2022