International drama of “MO1” visits White House and meets US President Trump begins next week – is it a national honour or a national shame for Malaysia?

Next week, a new drama will be enacted on the world stage – “MO1” visits the White House and meets US President Trump.

Will it be a national honour or a national shame for Malaysia?

In fact, the Najib-Trump meeting at the White House next Tuesday on Sept. 12 has sparked two questions:

First, is it right for Trump to invite Najib to visit him in White House?

Second, is it proper for Najib to accept Trump’s invitation to visit the White House to meet Trump?

The first question would have to be posed and answered by American political leaders and opinion makers.

Already there is an opinion piece in Washington Post yesterday entitled “Trump’s hosting of Malaysia’s prime minister marks another setback for the rule of law”, pointing to the “striking”: similarities between the two leaders – with both of them “wrapped up in major investigations that involve the US Justice Department”.

But the opinion piece conceded that “Najib’s authoritarian power grab is worse than anything Trump has done” with the caustic commentary:

“While Trump uses mere rhetoric to undermine the credibility of the free media, Najib uses criminal law to silence them. While Trump may wish for more compliant judicial and legislative branches, in Malaysia all checks and balances on executive power have been essentially stamped out.”

It concluded:

“In the long term, Malaysia’s value as a reliable and stable ally depends on it being an open society that abides by international law and norms and tolerates dissent. Trump’s hosting of Najib represents a setback for that objective.”

But Malaysians themselves must ask and answer the second question: Whether it is proper for Najib to accept Trump’s invitation to visit White House to meet Trump with the United States’s allegation of a kleptocrat and “MO1” hanging over his head for over a year!

Some international relations experts in Malaysia have said that Najib’s visit to the White House and meeting with Trump is good for the country, especially at a time of close Sino-Malaysia relations.

The news portal, Free Malaysia Today, reported the comments of Roy Anthony Rogers, the head of Universiti Malaya’s Department of Strategic and International Studies, that Malaysia need to diversity its relations and not rely too much on China.

Roy explained: “This is part of the strategy, having close ties with Saudi Arabia, India, China and now continuing the strategic partnership with the US which began under the Obama administration.”

I agree with Roy’s analysis if we do not take into account the US DOJ suits branding Najib as a “kleptocrat” and “MO1”.

But Najib, the government and the nation cannot ignore the US DOJ suits which has resulted in Malaysia being regarded worldwide as a global kleptocracy, as Najib had done nothing in the last two years to clear or cleanse himself and his administration of the serious and even heinous charges with regard to the international 1MDB money-laundering kleptocracy made against him in “black and white” by the US DOJ.

This was why two days before the 60th Merdeka anniversary last Monday on 28th August, I took the unorthodox and unprecedented step of issuing an Open Letter to all Cabinet Ministers asking them to take a patriotic stand at the Cabinet meeting on August 30 to veto Najib from visiting the White House to meet President Trump on Sept. 12 to spare 30 million Malaysians international shame and humiliation as the US Government had virtually branded the Malaysian Prime Minister as a kleptocrat, because he is “MO1” in the US DOJ kleptocratic litigation to forfeit US$1.7 billion 1MDB-assets in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Najib cannot deny that he is “MO1” as his Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Economic Planning Unit, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, had told the world in a BBC interview last September that only an idiot would not know that the US DOJ reference of “MO1” was referring to none other than Najib.

The corruption problem in Malaysia has come to a stage where even Perak Sultan Nazrin has declared it as one of the four worst problems of the country sixty years after Merdeka.

Najib Razak said many things in his speeches, statements and messages during the 60th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations, but one word and subject which Najib has conspicuously omitted was corruption, especially grand corruption or the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society.

Next Tuesday, Najib would be visiting White House and meeting US President Trump whose Department of Justice has branded him as a kleptocrat because he is “MO1” in the US DOJ’s largest kleptocratic litigation to forfeit US$1.7 billion of 1MDB-linked assets.

Najib’s Cabinet Ministers, especially the Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, do not seem to understand that the issue is not about Najib’s visit to the US but his visit to the White House to meet with President Trump, when Najib’s integrity and probity is under a cloud precisely because Trump’s government had branded him as a “kleptocrat” and “MO1” in the largest US kleptocratic civil litigation by the DOJ.

The Cabinet failed Malaysians big-time in their failure on the eve of the 60th Merdeka Anniversary to veto Najib’s visit to the White House and meeting President Trump to send out a clear and unmistakable message to Malaysians and the world that the Malaysian government and people will not tolerate any culture, politics or government of corruption.

It is now left to ordinary 30 million Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or politics to be more patriotic than the Cabinet Ministers to save Malaysia from kleptocracy and extremism and to revive the Merdeka Dream for Malaysia to be a world-class nation in every field of human endeavor.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah