Najib's Tuesday arrest and subsequent charges — three criminal breach of trust counts and one offense of abuse of power — are a major development in a multibillion-dollar corruption case that's stained the country's image for years. The charges are related to $10.6 million that was deposited into Najib's personal bank account from a former unit of state investment fund 1MDB — a small fraction of the total $4.5 billion that the U.S. Justice Department says was misappropriated from 1MDB.
It's welcomed as yet another milestone for Malaysian democracy after newly minted Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ousted Najib in the country's biggest-ever political upset nearly two months ago.
The 1MDB case is seen as a way for Mahathir to uphold his campaign pledges of restoring rule of law and abolishing graft in a country where deeply rooted patronage and cronyism have stymied economic and political reforms. To boost the country's health, it's imperative for Mahathir's team to show that the premier's office will no longer be exploited, experts have said.