Prime Minister Najib Razak, who visited the White House last week, should have attended the General Assembly of United Nations.
In the now widely watched 6-minute video of opening speeches by President Donald Trump and Najib during the bilateral meeting at White House’s cabinet room, President Trump remarked that many leaders were coming to United States for the United Nations General Assembly in New York in the following week, as if he thought Najib was also attending the General Assembly.
While it is not wrong for Najib to skip the United Nations session but it is indeed a great mystery why he would skip it when he was already in the United States. Instead Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was sent to speak on behalf of Najib.
Najib, who became Prime Minister in 2009, attended all United Nations General Assemblies between 2010 and 2015. Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi represented the nation in 2016.
Southeast Asia is faced with the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Asia faces challenges from a recalcitrant North Korea, as well as terrorism in the region and beyond. These are significant issues which Najib should spend time explaining Malaysia’s position to the world at the United Nations General Assembly. The General Assembly is also an opportunity for the Malaysian leader to meet other foreign counterparts for bilateral meetings.
Malaysia was a significant “middle power” that influences events on the world stage despite not being big in population size or economy. But under Najib, foreign policies, just as domestic policies, have become highly transactional which can be summed up with his favorite adage “Cash is King”.
Due to the global infamy of the 1MDB scandal, Najib has been avoiding international media and attention like a plague. He could not appear with pride and dignity on the world stage anymore.
And Najib’s inability to function internationally without being scrutinised on the 1MDB scandal has hindered Malaysia’s regional leadership potential at a time when it is most needed.
Media conference statement by DAP National Political Education Director and MP for Kluang Liew Chin Tong on Sunday 24th September 2017 in Johor Jaya, Johor