Malaysian leader Najib Razak has been urged to resign over corruption allegations and has been accused of trying to marginalise his critics. – The Guardian pic
Move comes as prime minister is due to arrive in Kuala Lumpar for long-arranged talks with Malaysia’s corruption-mired leader, Najib Razak.
David Cameron is to signal his deep concern about alleged corruption by the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, by sending his national security adviser Sir Kim Darroch to meet key Malaysian opposition leaders while he himself holds formal talks with Najib in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
Cameron’s staff also made a point of briefing that the UK prime minister will meet senior figures in civil society, including anti-corruption campaigners, as a sign that he wants to hear their concerns about the conduct of the government.
Malaysia is in political turmoil over the corruption allegations and Najib’s attempt to marginalise his critics.
Cameron is due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur for long-arranged formal talks with the prime minister in the final leg of a four-nation tour, but Najib earlier this week felt forced to sack key cabinet members that were starting to raise questions about this personal corruption, including his deputy and the attorney general.
Najib’s attitude to transparency appears like a textbook example of the kind of politics Cameron has opposed on his trip.
Darroch will meet Nurul Izzah Anwar, the daughter of the former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and the de facto opposition leader in Malaysia.
Cameron defended the visit, saying: “It is absolutely right to go ahead with these visits. The issues of corruption are issues in this region as elsewhere in the world. I don’t think it helps not travelling to a country and turning away. It is better to go and talk about these things.
“Nothing should be off the table. We should talk about these issues, including the specific ones now. We always have discussions with civil society figures, anti-corruption campaigners, opposition leaders and all the rest and that will happen on this visit too.”
Cameron pointed to the deep historical ties between the two countries as another reason to hold the visit.
Anwar was sacked as a deputy prime minister many years ago and then found guilty of sodomy charges and sentenced to five years in jail.
He is now in the fifth month of a five-year prison sentence that has already been condemned by the international community, including Britain.
The chaos inside the Najib government, including the dismissals of key staff, comes at an awkward time for Cameron as he seeks to promote UK business in the country and at the same time condemn corruption as the cancer that destroys good government and economic growth.
Cameron will make a joint appearance with Najib, but it is not expected they will hold a press conference or take questions.
Anwar lives in solitary confinement and is rarely allowed out of his cell. His daughter was also arrested in March.
But in a recent Wall Street Journal interview he claimed hundreds of Malaysian were being rounded up for opposing his government, and appealed for the help of western governments to put pressure on Najib.
The Wall Street Journal reported that investigators had traced nearly US$700m of deposits to what they believe are the personal bank accounts of Najib.
The 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB, was founded in 2008 and is under intense scrutiny for both its investments and transfer of cash.
Anwar said: “We believe that corruption is a slow bleed that robs future generations of the education and business opportunities that will make them prosper.” – The Guardian UK