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COMMENT | White House meetings with Malaysian prime ministers seldom attract any interest in the US press.

But the Sept 12 meeting between President Donald Trump and you, Prime Minister Najib Razak, is very different. The White House announcement of your meeting with Trump led to articles in all of America’s major newspapers - the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. The get-together next Tuesday was also reported around the world by AP, Reuters, and AFP, the world’s three most important news services.

There is no precedent for this much attention to a US-Malaysia summit.

Here is the key point - and the reason why there is so much attention.

All of these important news outlets focused on you, Prime Minister Najib, in their headlines and stories. The Wall Street Journal headline said, “Scandal-struck Malaysian prime minister to visit President Trump in Washington.” The New York Times said, “Malaysian leader in billion-dollar scandal is invited to White House.” The Washington Post website has a video that says “Prime Minister Najib, one of Asia’s most controversial leaders, is up to his neck, deep in a massive corruption scandal.”

We know who MO1 is

Welcome to Washington, prime minister. We know who you are, and we know what you and your family members and cronies are alleged to have done. All of the foreign policy experts in our nation’s capital know who “Malaysian Official 1” is.

As a result, there will be intense US press interest in your visit. As I noted before, that is very unusual. You have put Malaysia on the map in the US, but for all the wrong reasons.

If you think this visit is going to help you, at least in the US and the world, you are very wrong.

Why? First, because everyone who counts here is aware of the scandals in Malaysia and your involvement in them. The headlines prove that.

Second, because the foreign policy establishment here in Washington is very aware that despite your “liberal” rhetoric and British accent, you have turned Malaysia politically into an authoritarian state, and economically into a kleptocracy. They know that Malaysia is no longer the “go-go” economy that it was in the days of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

They read that Malaysians themselves now debate whether their beloved country is becoming a “failed state” under your so-called leadership. They know that your government jails opposition leaders, starting with Anwar Ibrahim, charges them with sedition, and revokes their passports.

Third - and this is a point about US politics - the American press is watching Trump like a hawk. They know that he is totally ignorant about foreign affairs. So already the question is being raised - why is Trump meeting with this guy, meaning, you? They are ready to pounce on any comment that Trump makes during your visit.

So your trip to Washington has great potential to backfire...

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