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Trump Welcomes Prime Minister of Malaysia

September 13, 2017
Plain English Version

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak to the White House in Washington, U.S. September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

There is an old saying, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” It means people and countries can agree on some things. Even when they disagree on other things.

Take Malaysia and the United States. The two nations are different from one another. America is a free society. Opponents of the government do not go to jail. The press is free to state its views.

The opposite is true in Malaysia.

But both countries share one thing. President Trump and Prime Minister Najib Razak are both under investigation. And by the same body. That body is the U.S. Department of Justice.

President Trump has a special counsel looking into ties between his campaign and Russia. Prime Minister Najib has the Department of Justice looking into his role as a crook.

That is right. The Department of Justice is trying to seize Najib’s assets. His assets are worth more than $1.7 billion. They include jewelry, real estate and income from Hollywood movies. The Department says Najib diverted the money from a government fund he headed. Some of the funds came from the American government.

In August, the Justice Department said it is changing direction. It is now looking at Prime Minister Najib as a criminal. They charge he laundered more than $3.5 billion through U.S. financial institutions.

President Trump invited Najib to visit the White House. Experts say the visit to the White House is a gift. It makes the prime minister look good in his country. Trump knows Mr. Najib. They played golf a few years ago. Trump signed a photo of the two and wrote: “To my favorite Prime Minister.”

They are “bedfellows” because the U.S. wants Malaysia to help America with North Korea. And the U.S. wants Malaysia to help deal with China. After the visit, Trump said they talked about trade agreements and a deal for Boeing jets.

Prime Minister Najib had a more modest goal. He wanted to show voters back home that America would not arrest him when he came to this country. An observer commented that avoiding arrest on a visit to the U.S. might seem a low bar for a world leader.

Another commentator said, “From a pure public relations point of view, it is a meeting the White House should avoid. Even a photo op with Kim Jong-un would be better.”

Elections are coming up in Malaysia. An opposition leader said, “If Trump says Najib is a great leader, people will say, well, that is Trump. We do not take him seriously.”

Source: The New York Times September 9, 2017

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