KUALA LUMPUR — Datuk Seri Najib Razak was on sick leave until Thursday as he remains in Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), which means the High Court will again have to postpone the hearing of the former prime minister’s ongoing trial for the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) funds.
Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah this afternoon provided an update to the High Court, after having waited three hours before he was allowed to see his client at the hospital.
“Now, Yang Arif, I finally met my client, he does not know how long he is going to be there, because this information was not availed to him. All he knows he is being tested on a daily basis, various tests,” Shafee told High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Shafee also produced a copy of a medical certificate issued by the Malaysian Prisons Department, which certified that Najib is on sick leave from today until tomorrow and also states the HKL hospital ward that he is in.
“But Yang Arif, having spoken to my client, he said he’s not surprised if he remains in the hospital even over the weekend, he said he’s not surprised, because of the number of tests that have been done.
“And now they have restored the medication he was accustomed to, he is beginning to see his blood pressure coming down, but still not satisfactory, not the original blood pressure. So in short, Yang Arif, although the switch back to his original medicine is working, but he is still not back to normal, testing is being done,” he said.
Asked by the judge if Najib’s current condition was due to a change of medication, Shafee noted that Najib also has a history of having stomach ulcers.
Shafee said that Najib had three months ago found out that he had unknowingly lost a lot of blood from an ulcer which caused his haemoglobin level to go down so low that he became “a walking time bomb”. Shafee said Najib could have developed a stroke at that time, but that he went back to normal after receiving a transfusion of five litres of blood.
“But recently as Yang Arif knows, because he complained of discomfort in his abdomen area, they found numerous ulcers, and some of these ulcers apparently when touched, it bleeds. I think for that reason he is being tested to ensure that the blood pressure has got nothing to do with that, but perhaps a mere confusion of medicine. The medicine are the same medicine, but one is original and one is not, apparently contrary to what has been said in papers, generic medicine can in fact be not as effective as the original medicine, there are literature on it,” he said.
Asked by the judge if the change in medicine could cause adverse effects, Shafee said this was possible: “It can, that is perhaps, in view of the fact there is no actual bleeding, that is the only tenable reason that can be provided, but they are testing to find out whether there are any other reasons.”
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib confirmed to the High Court that the prosecution was this afternoon informed of the situation, and had no objection as the medical certificate was issued by the government and certified by a government medical officer.
After having confirmed with Shafee that it would not be possible for the 1MDB trial to continue tomorrow, the judge then said the trial will resume on the next scheduled date of September 26: “In view of this medical certificate, I will vacate tomorrow’s date, we recommence on the 26th.”
Later when met by reporters, Shafee said Najib was not in pain, but was in discomfort when he met the latter at the hospital today.
“He looks the same as when he was here, he didn’t feel comfortable, he didn’t look the cheerful self,” he said, adding that he had discussed with Najib about the latter’s health and also the latter’s cases.
Shafee said Najib did not look pale today but had however looked “like a lobster, red in colour” on Monday, which was when Najib attended the 1MDB trial in the morning and had to be hospitalised in the afternoon.
Shafee said Najib’s blood pressure levels had shot up to almost 160/98 on Monday.
“It went so high up and then when he went in on the same day to hospital, it was still very bad, very high, and when they switched to his original medicine, he is beginning to see improvement, you know when you have ulcer, anything can be so sensitive,” he said.
Shafee said Najib’s blood pressure level has since come down after he switched back to his original hypertension medicine and was 117/84 this morning and around 124/84 or 124/85 this afternoon. Shafee said his client’s blood pressure was still fluctuating, and that Najib’s normal blood pressure level should be 110/80.
Explaining about the change in medication, Shafee said Najib was given the correct dosage, but noted that it was the generic medicine instead of the original medicine that his client was used to.
“There are a series of medication, all are generic as compared to his original medication. So if anybody from the Health Ministry were to say they are identical, total nonsense,” he said, stressing there are differences between the generic and non-generic versions.
As for Shafee’s remark yesterday that Najib would be sent to the National Heart Institute (IJN), Shafee clarified that it was the Health Ministry itself which had yesterday notified that his client would be shifted to IJN with all arrangements made.
“Because his condition, they didn’t want to take a risk, he’s not the first person who required from the prison a specialist treatment, it all depends on what is your problem, if your problem is serious, then you have to look for a specialist,” he said.
Shafee confirmed however that Najib does not have a heart condition, but pointed out that stomach ulcers can cause bleeding that could easily cause stroke or heart issues.
While Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday clarified that Najib would not be sent to IJN but will remain in HKL as the existing procedures is for prisoners to be referred to government hospitals, Shafee today countered: “I don’t think he is right, because he should look at the Prison Act.” Shafee confirmed that as of today, there is no indication that Najib would be transferred to IJN.
Yesterday, Shafee informed the judge that Najib had been warded in government hospital HKL since Monday (September 12) and would not be able to attend the trial for possibly two days, due to the need to have medical tests performed.
Shafee had yesterday indicated it was uncertain how many days would be required to run tests on Najib, also explaining that the reason for his client’s fluctuating blood pressure had yet to be identified.
Najib’s 1MDB trial was initially scheduled to take place from Monday to Thursday this week (September 12 to September 15). But the trial was cut short on Monday after the court was told that Najib was having adverse effects due to a change in his hypertension medicine, and the trial was only heard in the morning.
Both the Health Ministry and Khairy have however clarified that there was no change in the type of medicine when Najib was recently warded on September 9, with Khairy yesterday also explaining that Najib was given generic medicine issued by government hospitals which had the same formula as his usual medicine purchased from a private hospital.
Najib is currently serving his 12-year jail sentence for stealing RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former 1MDB subsidiary.
Today marks his 23rd day as a prisoner after the Federal Court upheld his conviction and sentence and sent him to jail on August 23.
Since being imprisoned in Kajang Prison, Najib is publicly known to have been admitted thrice to the hospital including this week.
On September 4, Najib was admitted to HKL for the day to undergo health checks. He then appeared the next day in court for his 1MDB trial.
The September 9 admission to HKL was the second time and Najib was said to be in good health before his discharge, while the September 12 admission to HKL is the third time.
Shafee confirmed that Najib was not warded overnight on September 4 and September 9, and that all three hospitals admissions were relating to the same problem and same issue.
“He stayed the whole day there, they did some tests, but I suspect the hospital thought they are duty-bound to send him back, so they sent him back. So when they sent him back, the complaint is still there,” Shafee said of the September 9 hospital visit.
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