PRESIDENT Donald Trump could take his relationship with Prime Minister Najib Razak further by endorsing a world-famous “kleptocrat”, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in response to reports of Najib’s coming visit to the US.
Washington and Putrajaya today both announced that Najib would visit the White House on September 12, confirming earlier reports.
“If President Trump wants to participate in our election, he can give his endorsement to the man who is described by the DoJ (US Department of Justice) as a kleptocrat and a thief who has stolen money,” Dr Mahathir told reporters at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya today after observing proceedings of the Royal Commission on Inquiry (RCI), formed by Najib’s administration to look into forex losses suffered by Bank Negara 25 years ago.
“So Trump may endorse that, I don’t know,” he said.
In a statement today, Putrajaya said Najib’s visit to Washington was at the invitation of Trump.
“Malaysia and the United States of America look forward to celebrating the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties, which have been enhanced under the prime minister’s leadership to a comprehensive partnership based on shared interests,” the statement said.
“The two leaders are expected to discuss areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, including national security, the global fight against terrorism and extremism, and trade and investment that will benefit our nations and our peoples.”
The visit comes in the wake of a push by Washington for Malaysia to share intelligence on North Korea and step up efforts to block any weapons’ flow through Malaysia. Another area of US interest that will likely be discussed is China’s increasing military presence in the South China Sea.
It is understood that Putrajaya wanted to announce the visit only after two major events, the Sea Games and the Merdeka Day celebrations, to get maximum exposure in the media.
The visit also comes on the heels of the US Department of Justice’s criminal investigation into money allegedly stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Najib’s brainchild.
The Justice Department, in a series of civil suits, alleged that Najib received US$681 million and his stepson, Riza Aziz, received US$238 million originating from the state development fund.
Citing people close to the prime minister, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Najib would likely use the White House visit to try to play down the possibility of further investigations.