KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysians have avidly watched the public humiliation of former leader Najib Razak and his wife, as police hunting evidence of graft loaded five trucks with luxury items, including dozens of Birkin handbags, some costing as much as a sportscar.
Tens of thousands of people logged onto Facebook watched as journalists live-streamed the 3am raid on Friday at an apartment in a fancy condominium, just one of several locations linked to the Najib family that were searched.
Millions more watched, as news channels aired the footage on a loop through the following day.
During his near ten years in power, Najib stamped out political dissent, and stifled criticism in the media.
But since Najib’s defeat in the May 9 election to 92-year-old Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his mentor-turned-foe, and jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, media coverage of his downfall has been remorseless.
The Hermes-branded boxes for the Birkins were plainly seen, loaded in to shopping trolleys as they were carted away, but police said that besides the bags, which can cost as much as three times the prime minister’s annual salary of $120,000, they brought out cash, watches and jewels.
“The number of jewellery is rather big,” policeman Amar Singh, director of commercial crime investigations, told reporters. Uploaded to social media, his comments gathered more than 80,000 views online. The new government has made a priority of finding out how billions of dollars went missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a fund set up by Najib. He has consistently denied wrongdoing at 1MDB.
Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor, who has become a focal point for public criticism for flaunting her wealth, took issue with the way in which the cameras filmed the police raid.
“YA ALLAHHH NAJIB ROSMAH. How do you sleep at nights!! HOW DO YOU EVEN LIVE THIS LIFE!!!!” lawyer Nurainie Haziqah wrote on Twitter.