AS Malaysians feel the pinch from higher food prices and many struggle to get jobs, the Najib administration decides to give money to the United States.
As the country is forced to take loans from China to build a cross-country railway, Prime Minister Najib Razak wants to help the US upgrade its infrastructure.
These were the sentiments expressed at a Pakatan Harapan rally in Kuala Lumpur last night as ordinary Malaysians and politicians vented their anger at Najib’s recent visit to the White House.
“It’s quite silly that we have to take loans from China to build the ECRL (East Coast Railway Link), but our prime minister goes and invests Malaysian money in US infrastructure,” said Wahab Anwar, 39.
“It’s a silly statement and we question what he was trying to do. There’s a lot he can do for Malaysians with that money,” said the engineer.
During his three-day visit, Najib told US president Donald Trump that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Khazanah Nasional Bhd were planning to expand their investments in the US, and that Malaysia would buy more Boeing aircraft to help strengthen the US economy.
EPF is expected to invest between RM12.6 billion and RM16.8 billion in the US. Some of that money is expected to be invested in US infrastructure.
The announcements had been roundly criticised by the opposition.
Housewife Marsitah Salleh was vexed that Malaysia, a far smaller economy, was helping a bigger economic power that was also a first-world country
But what really infuriated the 57 year-old was how blatantly the prime minister did it.
“He thinks we ordinary folk are stupid, that we can’t see how silly the decision was,” said the Wangsa Maju resident.
Their views were echoed by opposition politicians at the ceramah such as PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, and Amanah Youth vice-chief Faiz Fadzil.
“Malaysians are being squeezed by higher prices due to a combination of a weak ringgit, no subsidies for petrol and cooking oil, and the GST (goods and services tax),” said Saifuddin.
“So what does Najib do? He goes to Trump and gives Trump a pile of cash. We have infrastructure problems in Sabah and Sarawak and he gives money to the US.”
Saifuddin said Najib’s pledges to Trump were like Malaysia offering to teach Germany how to play football.
Faiz of Amanah, questioned the silence with which certain “pak lebai” had greeted Najib’s announcements.
“There are some pak lebai who said that US investigations into the 1MDB scandal were attempts at foreign interference in Malaysia,” Faiz said, referring to the religious leaders of Islamist party PAS.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had called the US Department of Justices’ probe into alleged embezzlement and money laundering of 1Malaysia Development Bhd funds “foreign interference” in Malaysian affairs.
“But when Najib went to the US and brought money there, these pak lebai were silent. They did not say a word.”