PETALING JAYA: “Resetting” Malaysia’s image in the US following the 1MDB scandal is among Nazri Aziz’s top priorities as he leaves for Washington today to begin his duties as the Malaysian ambassador there.
The former Padang Rengas MP, who will assume the post on March 8, believes his extensive experience in various portfolios in the government will be invaluable.
“I feel like there is much to do in the US, especially in cleaning up Malaysia’s image, which was affected by the 1MDB scandal. This scandal has put Malaysia in a bad light,” he said, according to Bernama.
The 1MDB scandal has led to high-profile prosecutions locally and abroad, with US investment bank Goldman Sachs and others like fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, implicated.
It has also led to former prime minister Najib Razak being convicted and jailed for 12 years over charges related to the multi-billion graft scandal.
Nazri said he also wanted to tackle the issue of foreign workers’ rights in Malaysia, which had become a point of contention with the US.
“There are things that Malaysian companies feel are normal but turn out to be infringements to human rights for foreign workers from the US’ point of view, and this can be addressed,” he said, adding that he also wanted to address claims of forced labour in Malaysia.
The former law minister also wanted to improve Malaysia’s Tier 3 ranking in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which he said put Malaysia in a disadvantaged position.
“My aim is to improve Malaysia’s ranking to Tier 2 and gradually to Tier 1 under the watchlist. We aim for the highest,” he said.
Nazri also dismissed claims that he was unfit for the job since he did not have a diplomatic background, saying many other politicians had become diplomats in the past, including the late Jamaluddin Jarjis.
He said that being an experienced politician and heading the Padang Rengas Umno division for about 20 years meant that diplomacy was not new to him.
“Politicians must be nice to everyone, you can’t be nasty to people if you need their vote. I have contested in six general elections and won each and every time.
“This speaks well on how diplomatic I am towards my voters,” said Nazri, who did not seek re-election in the recent general election.