Na­jib de­fends US in­vest­ment, says ‘it’s not a one-way street’

Today - - WORLD | NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON — In yet an­other at­tack on the op­po­si­tion, which has de­rided his visit to the White House this week, Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak said it was nec­es­sary to shoot down the “spin” that Malaysia’s in­vest­ments in the United States would ben­e­fit only Amer­i­cans.

“I want to ex­plain — there are those spin­ning (sto­ries) as if we are con­tribut­ing to the US with­out get­ting re­turns,” he said on Wed­nes­day (US lo­cal time) dur­ing a press con­fer­ence to wrap up his three-day of­fi­cial visit to the US.

“That is not true. When we buy Boe­ing (air­craft), we turn Malaysia Air­lines into a more com­pet­i­tive air­line. If oth­ers have Dream­lin­ers, we also have Dream­lin­ers; this is the trans­for­ma­tion and ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of the air­line which is work­ing be­cause MAS (Malaysian Air­lines) is now in the po­si­tion to buy planes. That is good for us.”

Mr Na­jib also said Malaysia will ben­e­fit from its Em­ploy­ees Prov­i­dent Fund (EPF) in­vest­ing in Amer­ica.

“When we in­vest in the US, the EPF will get re­turns and this will flow back as div­i­dends to our em­ploy­ees in Malaysia,” he said. “So it’s not a one-way street. They are spin­ning it as though I am here to buy in­flu­ence from the US, and that is to­tally un­true.”

Mr Na­jib’s re­marks came on the back of the op­po­si­tion crit­i­cis­ing Mr Na­jib’s trip to the US. Se­lan­gor Chief Min­is­ter Azmin Ali slammed Pu­tra­jaya’s an­nounce­ment that it will in­vest US$24 bil­lion (S$32 bil­lion) in Amer­ica, adding that Malaysia’s eco­nomic well-be­ing should not be mort­gaged for a photo op­por­tu­nity.

“This in­vest­ment is pur­port­edly to ‘strengthen the US econ­omy’,” said Mr Azmin, who is from the op­po­si­tion Parti Kead­i­lan Rakyat, in a state­ment. “Why does Malaysia need to help out the world’s largest econ­omy?

“Malaysia is an emerg­ing econ­omy, and we are do­ing our best to court in­vest­ment from de­vel­oped coun­tries, not send our money away.”

At his meet­ing with US President Don­ald Trump at the White House on Tues­day, Mr Na­jib had said that Malaysia in­tends to in­crease the num­ber of Boe­ing planes Malaysia Air­lines will buy.

Malaysia is com­mit­ted to buy­ing 25 737 Max 10 air­craft and eight 787 Dream­lin­ers, he said.

Mr Na­jib also said on Tues­day that the EPF plans to fur­ther in­vest in the US. The fund has in­vested close to US$7 bil­lion, in terms of eq­uity, in the US and in­tends to in­vest be­tween US$3 bil­lion and US$4 bil­lion to sup­port in­fra­struc­ture re­de­vel­op­ment in the coun­try.

Dur­ing the same press con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day, Mr Na­jib also de­scribed his visit to Amer­ica as a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the recog­ni­tion of Malaysia as a sig­nif­i­cant global player, adding that the trip was a huge suc­cess that co­in­cided with the 60th an­niver­sary of Malaysia-US bi­lat­eral ties.

“I am very happy to be re­ceived by US President Don­ald Trump as not only a prime min­is­ter, but also as a friend,” said Mr Na­jib.

While the op­po­si­tion and some sec­tions of the US me­dia had crit­i­cised the visit, Mr Na­jib said that the warm re­cep­tion by Mr Trump and se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion mem­bers such as Vice-President Mike Pence and State Sec­re­tary Rex Tiller­son had proved the crit­i­cisms wrong.

“This demon­strates that we have suc­ceeded as a na­tion. If we are a failed state, it would have been im­pos­si­ble to get the recog­ni­tion from Trump,” said Mr Na­jib.

Prior to the trip, many of Mr Na­jib’s crit­ics had said he would not dare visit Amer­ica be­cause of the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions of state fund 1Malaysia De­vel­op­ment Ber­had by the US Jus­tice De­part­ment.

PHOTO: AFP

United States President Don­ald Trump and Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak out­side the West Wing of the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day. Mr Na­jib says his visit has been a huge suc­cess.

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