COMMENT | Observers of the recent meeting of the US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak may have underestimated the admiration that the two leaders have for each other and their shared ideological leanings – besides their common interest in spending time with golf buddies.
Trump has gone on record during his recent Republican presidential campaign to famously declare: “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy. I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy. But now I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States.”
The first part of his declaration no one should have any doubt about.
As to the second part, let history judge if Trump is able to protect the interest of the United States through his principle of "greed and me, first and last".
For now, he has severe problems with his home audience, recording the lowest rating of any president since approval rating polls on US presidents started in the 1940s.
In the last few days there has been a slight uptick in Trump's approval rating. But this cannot be attributed to Najib's visit.
The visit of our prime minister – Trump's “favourite prime minister” according to a signed photo said to be prominently displaced in Najib's office – may be trumpeted by the local media as a triumph and a coup.
The New Straits Times, for example, has given pride of place to an article by foreign affairs magazine The Diplomat, which noted that it was the second visit by a Southeast Asian leader to Trump's White House (after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam), and assessed the visit as “a feat within the context of the bilateral relationship.”
An own goal?
However, more astute Malaysia watchers are wondering if the prime minister's side may have kicked an own goal in pushing for the visit, which appears planned to boost Najib's image and BN's prospects in the coming 14th General Election...