KUALA LUMPUR,. Datuk Seri Najib Razak had as prime minister attempted to “bribe” US President Donald Trump with promises to aid the economic superpower’s economy, but Malaysia as a small nation is actually not capable of doing so, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said.
Dr Mahathir said in an interview published by the Wall Street Journal that Najib had “tried to bribe” Trump “by offering to buy aircraft and all that.”
“He actually said he wanted to help the economy of the United States. Malaysia is a small country. We can’t help people,” Dr Mahathir said in an interview with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution’s executive editor Tunku VaradaraJanuary
Dr Mahathir was referring to his predecessor Najib’s remarks during a working visit last September to the US and the latter’s meeting with Trump then.
In the visit last year, Najib had told Trump that Malaysia came with a “strong value proposition” and wanted to help the latter “strengthen the US economy”.
Najib had then listed three plans, including to have state-owned Malaysia Airlines Berhad purchase over US$10 billion (RM42 billion) worth of aircraft from US company Boeing Aircraft Corporation and to attempt to persuade private low-cost carrier AirAsia Berhad to purchase US-made engines.
Najib had also highlighted that Malaysians’ retirement fund Employees Provident Fund plans to invest a further US$3-4 billion to support the redevelopment of US infrastructure on top of its existing investment of almost US$7 billion in the US; as well as plans by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional to increase its investments on top of its already existing US$400 million in high-technology companies in the US.
In the same interview, Dr Mahathir also spoke about his views on corruption, which he has repeatedly said would be tackled since returning to helm the country’s leadership.
“I believe that if the leader is not corrupt, then the level of corruption will not be very high.
“What happened was that the prime minister himself was totally corrupt, openly corrupt, and because of that, corruption spread throughout the whole government machinery and the business community,” he said, referring to his predecessor Najib.
Dr Mahathir reportedly said the Malaysian government will not strike an amnesty deal with Najib, who is currently facing multiple charges over funds said to belong to state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“He claims he can explain everything, that he didn’t take the money. And that is up to the judge, to evaluate his defence against the prosecutor’s evidence,” he said.
Najib had in the past three months been charged with seven counts — ranging from criminal breach of trust, power abuse and money-laundering — over a RM42 million sum allegedly from 1MDB’s ex-unit SRC International Sdn Bhd, as well as 25 counts of a combination of alleged power abuse and money-laundering offences in relation to over RM2 billion of funds said to belong to 1MDB.
Trial has yet to start for Najib’s criminal cases, with the hearing for the charges involving the RM42 million sum to start next February 12.
Dr Mahathir had since returning as prime minister stressed on measures to prevent corruption, including a no-gift policy for ministers except for flowers and food. The Cabinet ministers are also expected to publicly declare their assets next month.