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MALAYSIA PM REPLACES DEPUTY, SACKS ATTORNEY GENERAL AMID SCANDAL

KUALA LUMPUR: Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday sacked his deputy premier and attorney general as part of a major cabinet reshuffle widely seen as an attempt to tighten his hold on office amid corruption allegations.
Najib has come under mounting pressure in recent months over claims that huge sums of money had been siphoned off from state-owned development company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he launched in 2009.
Calls for Najib to step down mounted earlier this month after a Wall Street Journal report that Malaysian government investigators had discovered nearly $700 million had been routed to Najib’s personal bank accounts.
The prime minister and 1MDB have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
In a televised address, Najib announced he had dumped Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who has been critical of Najib’s handling of the affair and has called for more transparency.
Muhyiddin was replaced by Home Minister Zahid Hamidi.
Clearly referring to Muhyiddin and other lower-ranking ministers who had questioned the allegations surrounding 1MDB, Najib said cabinet members “should not air their differences in an open forum that can affect public opinion against the government and Malaysia”.
In total, nine ministers were replaced in the cabinet reshuffle that Najib said was aimed at creating a more “unified team” ahead of the next elections due by 2018.
Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail, who was part of a task force investigating 1MDB, also was “terminated… for health reasons,” a government statement said.
But the moves touched off speculation that Najib was attempting to curb further calls for transparency and possibly avoid criminal charges.
“The removal of the AG and the DPM will be seen as acts of desperation by Najib,” said Terence  Gomez, a  political  analyst  with  the 
 University of Malaya.

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