Prime Minister Najib Razak has met with US President Donald Trump.
The primary issue is what the trip has accomplished for the country’s interests.
It was reported by the White House that before his bilateral meeting with President Trump, Najib said that “…we want to help you in terms of strengthening the U.S.”
This apparently includes increasing the number of Boeing planes to be purchased by Malaysia Airlines, by the EPF investing “three to four additional billion dollars to support your (i.e. Trump) infrastructure redevelopment in the United States” and for Khazanah Nasional to also increase its investments in Silicon Valley high-tech companies.
Again, a number of questions arise from this. Why should Malaysia want to strengthen the US? What impact could we have in any case? At the same time, it is also very strange for us to be investing in US infrastructure while seeking investment for our own projects from China.
It is also significant that—although he quite rightly stated that Malaysia is “…committed to fight Daesh, IS, Al-Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf – you name it”—based on the abovementioned White House readout, the Palestinian and Rohingya issues were apparently not mentioned in this conference.
One cannot help but wonder whether an opportunity was missed for Najib – as a Southeast Asian, Muslim and developing world leader – to raise these issues while the eyes of the world was on him and President Trump.
Why – given his apparent championship of these issues – did he not speak out on these crises withTrump?
The Washington Post has also reported that the Prime Minister stayed in the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC. How much did this stay cost the Malaysian taxpayer?
Moreover, it must be pointed out that President Trump still owns an interest in the hotel through a revocable trust. This arrangement has been criticised by US civil society and media, as it allegedly allows the President to draw money from his businesses.
The question then arises as to whether it was appropriate for the Malaysian delegation to have been housed in the hotel.
Najib and his administration need to answer these questions.