The editorial criticised Obama for having met Najib three times since 2014.
Among the reasons given for Obama to keep the Malaysian leader at arm’s length, was the PM’s attempt to “decree the end to a scandal involving the appearance of USD681 million in his personal bank accounts”, it said, in reference to the controversial political donation Najib received from a Saudi donor.
“Fortunately for the rule of law in Malaysia, the strongman’s gambit failed,” the editorial stated, adding that revelations about alleged misappropriation of funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) continue to make headlines, with investigations in six nations gathering momentum.
Besides being critical of Najib for his role in the 1MDB controversy, it also highlighted the leader’s alleged misuse of funds for personal expenses, citing Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports of how “USD15 million was used for personal expenses, including lavish spending on clothes, jewellery and a car.”
“Increasingly, it looks like a losing effort. Even if Malaysia’s investigators are blocked, those in other countries appear likely to move forward and expose how money was diverted.
“The Malaysian economy is meanwhile sputtering, and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has formed a coalition to seek Mr. Najib’s ouster,” the editorial said.
The Washington Post also criticised Najib’s repression of the allegations against him, by his firing of his former deputy Muhyiddin Yassin and former Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail. The rampant use of the Sedition Act against dissenters and the imprisonment of former Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim were also cited.
“The government has blocked news websites, deported foreign journalists and even banned yellow T-shirts used by anti-corruption campaigners.
“All this ought to sway the Obama administration, which has cultivated Mr Najib even amid the growing evidence of corruption and his repressive response.” – FMT