KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 13): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s visit to the White House came under intense criticism by DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang.
Lim, who is also MP for Gelang Patah, said the embattled Najib should “open up, invite and answer questions about the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal and Malaysia as a global kleptocracy, when he visits the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations later today, before the end of his three-day visit to United States."
Lim said the jury is out as to whether Najib could capitalise on his White House visit and meeting with President Donald J. Trump for his benefit in the run-up to the 14th General Election, or whether it would be a deadweight to sink his premiership and coalition in the next general election.
The DAP vetaran pointed out that Najib’s visit had added a new ethical conundrum for both Trump and Najib — as the Malaysian Prime Minister and his entourage are staying at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, raising the question as to whether Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution which forbids presidents from receiving gifts or payment for services rendered from foreign governments while in office.
Meanwhile, American news agencies reported today that that there were no news conferences held after the meeting, presumably to avoid pesky questions from journalists, and that both leaders kept their public remarks brief, staying on the safe ground of trade and counter-terrorism.
The Washington Post reported Trump himself had come under fire in the US for declining to divest of his interest in the hotel, which is now managed by his sons, creating opportunities for foreign governments and special interests to enrich the president, while also seeking changes to the US policy.
Although critics said the visit might divert attention from the arguably biggest financial scandal the world has ever seen, Lim stressed the meeting presented an unprecedented spectacle of two leaders who are both under investigation by the US Department of Justice.
"One for theft and money-laundering of more than US$4.5 billion over six years from 1MDB and the other on whether Trump’s current or former aides colluded with Russian intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign," Lim noted.
Meanwhile, Lim also took the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to task for its irony of celebrating its 50th anniversary with the theme: 'Jerung atau bilis dalam jaring kami' (Big fish or small, we will get you).
"Is the MACC prepared to prove that it is serious about eradicating corruption, without fear or favour, and if so, when is it going to get serious with investigations into the 1MDB scandal and address Malaysia’s infamy and ignominy as a global kleptocracy?" he questioned.