This article was updated on April 12th to include the video of our interview with Pascal Najadi
On July 29th 2013, AmBank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi and his wife were shot at close range while leaving a Chinese temple in KL; apparently after a private business meeting. While his wife survived the attack, Hussain Najadi did not.
The police identified the shooter as Koong Swee Kwan, who was eventually arrested and sentenced to death for the murder in September 2014, along with an additional 18 years in prison for the attempted murder of Hussain Najadi’s wife. Koong had been appealing against the death sentence since; but in March 2021, at his last chance in the Federal Court, his appeal was again rejected. It seemed that justice had been delivered for everyone involved.
But oddly enough, there’s been someone else who’s been vocally protesting against Koong’s death sentence – the victim’s son, Pascal Najadi. We spoke to Pascal on Zoom to ask him, well….why?
The trial doesn’t answer an important question
Watch our full interview ☝️
While it’s not a position anyone should be in, you might hypothetically ask yourself what you would do to a person who killed someone you love. Some of you might think that a death sentence would be a fair option. In fact, some of you might think this is the only option in order to get closure. So, it might seem weird that Pascal is asking for his father’s killer to not be hanged. Raising his eyebrows when we asked him this question, Pascal’s reply was:
“That’s not the point, the point is to find out the truth.” – Pascal Najadi, in interview with Cilisos
Pascal had always claimed that his father was assassinated for voicing his concerns about corruption happening at AmBank. While some people such as Lim Kit Siang drew a link to the RM2.6 billion ‘donation’ that was deposited into ex-PM Najib’s personal AmBank account or to 1MDB as a whole, what Hussain Najadi allegedly told Pascal was that the rust had corroded the entire political structure. This conversation apparently happened during a family lunch at the Selangor Golf Club:
“My Dad then spoke about massive corruption. He also said that they [people in power] had lost the plot in the sense that they recklessly and behind their own population’s backs raked in billions of ringgit from construction, oil & gas to defence & transportation.” – Pascal Najadi, as quoted by Sarawak Report
What grinds the gears of conspiracy even more is an incident when Pascal met with his father for lunch at the KL Shangri-La. Hussain Najadi seemed annoyed and complained more of the corruption as well as a meeting he had with “a number of high-ranking ethnic Malays” who were trying to involve him in a real estate deal, and pointed out that the same people were seated close by. When they asked for the bill, they were told by the waitress that the bill had already been settled – something Pascal says was not a coincidence.
Of course, these claims of conspiracy go much deeper than we can cover in this article, but it’s been documented in other interviews between Pascal and Sarawak Report (Link 1 | Link 2). The Shangri-La account is from Pascal’s Petition to the UN, and can be downloaded here.
Conspiracy aside, here’s something to think about – Although the sentence given out to Koong would seem like justice has been served, it hasn’t answered a very important question: Why did he shoot Hussain Najadi and his wife?
“The motive is central to any criminal investigation. The criminal intent, and the motive have not been communicated. So how can a judge decide in court when there is no motive at the center of it to analyze? – Pascal Najadi, in interview with Cilisos
Koong might still be a key witness
With Koong being found guilty of the crime, the PDRM considered the case closed in late 2015. Not just that, then-IGP Khalid Abu Bakar maintained there was no link between the murder and 1MDB, and KL CID Chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah said that Najadi was believed to have been murdered over the RM100 million land deal we previously mentioned.
Koong was allegedly paid RM20,000 for the murder, and while the taxi driver who assisted him was arrested and convicted (although this was later overturned), the mastermind who paid him was later cleared of involvement due to lack of evidence. But again, it brings back Pascal’s original question:
“We need to know why did he pull the trigger, why the money? So if there was money, who paid him? And then we have to find this person who paid him.” -Pascal
Although he hasn’t been back to Malaysia out of concern for his own safety, Pascal has been trying to get the case reopened ever since – including hiring lawyer Gobind Singh Deo to get the investigation papers, but he was ultimately “rebuffed and had no chance to get the documents”. He also pointed out that the authorities never spoke to him or his family members throughout the investigation.
“Since the assassination, not one investigator has contacted us. Not one. So it’s peculiar from the beginning … There were no efforts made to contact us and talk to us.”
Oddly enough, ex-PM Najib also welcomed calls for the Pakatan government to reopen the investigation, along with those of Kevin Morais and Altantuya back in 2018 as a way of proving once and for all that his alleged links to these murders were slander.
With the Pakatan government now also being a past tense, it’s not certain if we’ll ever know what the truth is; and that the only person that knows who paid Koong or why he shot Hussain Najadi is Koong himself.
“It’s of national interest to know what really happened. Up till today we don’t know what really happened … he’s a material witness.” – Pascal Najadi
How does Pascal actually want Koong punished?
Pascal tells us he was in Moscow when he picked up a call from Kuala Lumpur, and the lady on the other end was so distraught that he couldn’t understand what she was saying.
“I had to realize in a short moment that he was killed … It was like a vacuum, it’s like time completely stopped. It’s hard to explain the feeling, something I don’t wish anybody to go through.”
While some of us might want justice to be served, there’s also the element of finding closure. And to Pascal, that comes from finding the truth of why his father was murdered. If you’re curious whether Pascal finds any sense of justice from Koong’s death sentence, well, we asked him as well:
“It’s all about revenge you know. Revenge is a very difficult emotion. For me, the bigger pain for him would be sentenced to life in prison. I [don’t believe in taking] a life for another life, but this man should definitely be punished; and I think a life sentence is worse than relieving him from this life.”