IN a battle of accusations and counter-accusations, Dr Mahathir Mohamad today denied allegations that he had instructed the foreign ministry to arrange a meeting with the US president during his administration.
The head of opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan said his international priorities then were to first visit Asean, followed by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries and lastly Commonwealth nations.
“Wisma Putra was told about my priority visits when I became prime minister in 1981. My schedule did not include the United States.
“According to my schedule, I was only free to visit the US after completing the other countries. As such, I only went to the US three years after I became PM.
“My foreign travel records can be found in Wisma Putra,” Dr Mahathir said on his blog chedet.cc today.
Dr Mahathir was also responding to allegations by former deputy home minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub’s son, Megat Fairouz, that he paid lobbyists millions to meet with the US president George W Bush in 1982.
Prime Minister Najib Razak similarly alleged that his rival paid American lobbyiststo set up the meeting in 1982.
“I’m not sure if Fairouz’s statements are true or false. Maybe the Wisma Putra officers who arranged my visit would know. What I do know is that I did not instruct anyone to lobby for the visits,” said the 92-year-old leader.
Dr Mahathir, however, ridiculed Najib’s visit as one of the expensive meetings with a US president and compared his own visit with Najib’s last week.
“The treatment accorded to Najib during his recent state visit is one of the worst ever. According to media reports in the US, the treatment was ‘pariah’,” said Dr Mahathir.
The Bersatu chairman said when he visited the US in 1984, the Americans sent the president’s jet to La Guardia airport in New York to take him and his wife to Washington.
“From the Edwards Airforce Base, I was flown by the president’s (Ronald Reagan) helicopter to Washington DC where I was met by the top officers in US and had a motorcade to the Willard Hotel because the official guesthouse, Blair House, was undergoing repairs.
“The two stretch limousines used to take me to the White House were decorated with Malaysian and American flags. And as the American and Malaysian flags are very similar, some thought the US president was in the limousines and waved to us all the way.”
He said he met president Reagan in front of the “fireplace” in the Oval Office and made small talk with vice-president George Bush Sr.
“After that, we had met at a special meeting room, followed by lunch and a press conference. My visit to the White House is recorded and kept in the Ronald Reagan Library.”
Traditionally, visiting dignitaries to the White House are given a photo-op in front of the fireplace in the Oval Office.
RM3.3 BIL PER MINUTE
Dr Mahathir said he also had other unofficial meetings with former US presidents George Bush Sr, George W Bush and Bill Clinton in other places to talk about palm oil issues and the American attitude towards Muslim countries.
“But Najib’s visit to Washington was greeted by the Malaysian ambassador to the US and he stayed at Donald Trump’s hotel. Najib also did not get the same treatment and was only accorded a 30-minute meeting with Trump.
“There was also no lunch or press conference.
“In the 30-minute meeting, Najib offered RM100 billion to Trump (as an investment) and as such the cost of that meeting to Malaysians is some RM3.3 billion per minute.”
Another embarrassing aspect of Najib’s visit, said Dr Mahathir, was the Newsweek report titled “Trump’s meeting with Malaysian crook Najib reeks of the swamp”.
“There’s no need to lie and say that he was better treated than me.
“Najib did not even meet the press. His only motive on the visits to the US and the United Kingdom was to take pictures with the American president and the British prime minister.”
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