Najib has no choice but to look to China, says MP

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PETALING JAYA: Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen has accused Prime Minister Najib Razak of endangering Malaysia’s neutrality in foreign relations by kowtowing to China.

Speaking to FMT, he said it appeared that Najib felt forced to bend to Beijing’s wishes because he didn’t know how else to correct the country’s financial position.

Wong, who heads PKR’s investment and commerce bureau, was reacting to a recent South China Morning Post (SCMP) report that Malaysia had seen its ties with China deepen in recent years “after Kuala Lumpur’s cash-strapped government increasingly opted to do business with China’s state-linked weapons suppliers”.

“When you don’t have strong financials,” Wong said, “you will have to kowtow. And so Najib has no choice but to look to China for help since no developed nation wants to be linked to him and the 1MDB scandal.

“Contrast this to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration before the crash of 1997, when we provided non-aligned leadership to the third world.”

Asked if he thought Najib’s recent US trip would help in restrengthening Malaysia’s neutrality, Wong said it would in fact see Putrajaya continuing to gravitate towards Beijing.

“After all, China accorded Najib a full state visit with a red carpet and 21-gun salute whereas (US President) Donald Trump met Najib in very informal conditions without any official public ceremonies,” he said.

“The signal sent from Trump to Najib is not great at all in diplomatic terms, and the Chinese are probably seeing this as a US diplomatic snub to Najib.”

He said this in turn would redouble Beijiing’s effort to engage with Najib.

The SCMP report noted that Malaysia had bought low-cost aircraft, warships and rockets from Beijing.

Last year, Putrajaya and Beijing inked a RM1.17 billion deal to jointly build four littoral mission ships for coastal patrols. It was their first major defence agreement.

Wong questioned whether Malaysia could even use the military equipment.

“These pieces of equipment have to be able to integrate with Malaysia’s existing weapon systems and arsenal,” he said.

“For instance, will Chinese radar systems work with Italian defence software or American fighter planes? We traditionally get our equipment from the UK or the US.

“So while Chinese military equipment is cheaper, it remains to be seen if we will migrate our entire defence system to Chinese suppliers.”