Najib flies to wife's defence

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives with his wife Rosmah Mansor for a gala dinner for leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on October 7, 2013.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has defended the use of a government jet by his wife Rosmah Mansor by giving two examples of her public service that he had never before told Malaysians.

Datuk Seri Najib said that her international "networking" had helped Malaysians during an emergency in 2011 when students had to be evacuated from Egypt at the start of the Arab Spring and demonstrators took to the streets to topple then President Hosni Mubarak.

In one case, a Malaysian student was wrongfully detained by Egyptian police on suspicion of being a spy, Mr Najib said in a speech at the end of the three-day Umno annual assembly that was telecast live to millions of Malaysians watching from home.

"I asked my wife to call the wife of (former) President Mubarak, Suzanne Mubarak, to appeal for the student's release. Within two hours, the student was released," he said to loud applause from the 3,000 delegates at the assembly.

In the mass evacuations of thousands of Malaysian students from Egypt, Datin Seri Rosmah managed to get Saudi Arabia to allow them to use Saudi soil as a transit point - without getting visas - before they flew back to Kuala Lumpur.

The Saudis even provided two large 747 jets free of charge to fly them back.

"These are among the contributions of my wife for the people of Malaysia," he said to cheers and claps from the floor.

Madam Rosmah has been attacked by the political opposition in recent weeks after it emerged that she used one of the government jets reserved for use by the Malaysian King and the Prime Minister on official business.

She had flown to Qatar to attend a women's forum as a representative of Malaysia. The opposition called this an abuse of power and waste of public funds, as she is not an elected official.

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