Should Najib fly with the eagle or chase the dragon?


(Updated )

The smirk on Najib Abdul Razak's face, when he received the official invitation to visit the White House on Sept 12 says it all.

Najib and his wife, the self-styled "First Lady of Malaysia" (FLOM), are in a triumphant mood. The Birkins, the Manolo Blahnik stilettos, and the choicest diamond and sapphire earrings are packed. This invitation means more than any other invitation. This trip means "acceptance."

Najib's propaganda machine will go into overdrive. They will claim that this trip is proof that he has been vindicated and exonerated from involvement in the 1MDB scandal. This trip is a political coup.

Najib's critics see his invitation to the Oval Office as Najib's 5Ps. It is a form of political patronage, the sort to which Malays are accustomed, in "affirmative action" Malaysia.

Najib has merely taken this patronage to the international level. He is practising his form of diplomacy, the art of "You help me, I help you". China is flexing its muscles around the world, and although we are a small bit player, the Straits of Malacca is an important waterway and we are still considered a moderate Muslim nation.

Najib's 5Ps are self-promotion; self-publicity; personal agenda fulfilment; preparation for GE14; and political superiority. The Washington meeting is about his political survival, and he will milk this trip as much as he can. It is a political victory.

It does not matter if Najib is reamed by the press pack at a press conference on Sept 12. By the time the encounter is broadcast to Malaysian viewers, by TV3, the grilling will be sanitised or edited out altogether. We will see a beaming Najib, enthusiastically shaking hands with the perma-tan Donald Trump, beside FLOM, with her carefully spun image as a self-proclaimed philanthropist, dwarfed by the Flotus.

They say that opposites attract, but the truth is that like-minded people are drawn to one another, and so it is with Trump and Najib.

Both men have big egos. Both men think big. In a speech in Warsaw this July, Trump spoke out in defence of "western civilisation." Back home, Najib has constantly championed Umno-Baru as the only party which will defend the Malays, and protect Islam.

Both men have no major policy accomplishments. Can you think of any?

They both have a problem with the media and the free speech. Trump can learn a lot from Najib, about shutting down independent newspapers and intimidating reporters. Trump complains that his image has been destroyed by "fake news." Sadly, many of us think that what looks like "fake news" in Malaysia, is real.

Both men are clueless about being responsible leaders. They are good at appealing to the most extreme and intolerant in their respective societies. This trip could be termed as "White Supremacist meeting the Malay Supremacist."

Both condone racism. Trump made his remarks about "both sides to blame", for the Charlottesville neo-Nazi violence, which resulted in one death, while Najib praised the Red Shirts "peaceful" rally on Sept 16, 2015. In reality, it was a march that championed bigotry.

Both men have sacked their attorney-generals, but at least, in America, the people do rise up and protest when they see an injustice. At home, judges and heads of the civil service are beholden to the PM.

Both men are fascinated with numbers

Both men are fascinated with numbers. Trump was furious when reporters said his inauguration did not attract as many people as Obama's. At home, Najib dismissed reports that the Bersih 4 rally attracted 500,000 people and insisted that his Red March rally was a major crowd puller, despite the participants being bribed to attend.

Both men enjoy golf and have played together, but Najib was so enthralled by teeing-off with the POTUS, that he forgot his obligations to the suffering Malaysian flood victims, in 2014.

Both men promote the economy by building walls; one on the Mexican border, although Najib is more ambitious. He has built walls on the Thai-Malaysia border and the metaphorical one around Putrajaya.

Each has his own way of dealing with difficult questions. One is a Twitter-maniac, whilst the other does a "Najib," which may enter the Oxford English dictionary to mean, "no comment."

Trump is unpredictable. When he makes a speech, one does not know what he will say, because he rarely follows his script. On the other hand, Najib is entirely predictable. Take what he says to mean the opposite. This, he learned from his mentor...

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