From Jamaluddin Muhammad
The Malaysian prime minister said Malaysia developed, and did not choose, relationships with other countries.
Malaysia had its own principles when speaking up in the international arena, he said at a dinner hosted by him for the Malaysian diaspora here at a hotel.
“We have our own principles. What is right, we will say is right. What is wrong, we will say is wrong,” he said.
As the result of the good relationship Malaysian enjoyed with other countries, he said, 26 nations had extended a hand in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 without asking for compensation.
Flight MH370 dropped off radar on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board.
The Boeing 777 aircraft has yet to be found, even after an exhaustive search in the southern Indian Ocean where it is believed to have gone down after veering off course.
Najib also gave examples of the good relationship Malaysia enjoyed with the United States and China.
Citing visits by US presidents to Malaysia, Najib said that 48 years ago, a US president (Lyndon B. Johnson) visited Malaysia when it was still the era of black-and-white television.
Recalling the visit by Barack Obama in April this year, Najib said the US president spent three days and two nights in Malaysia – all because of the serious bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Najib said Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted a private dinner for him and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, when they visited Beijing last May in celebrating the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China relations.
The Malaysian prime minister also shared his experience in dealing with a non-state actor in order to recover the remains of the passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July.
He had to negotiate with the leader of those in control of the crash site for three crucial deals pertaining to the victims’ remains, custody of the black box and access to the crash site for independent international investigators.
Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17 as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.
“I managed the entire operation by myself. The risk of something going wrong could have affected the lives of those carrying out the task. Sometimes, it is very lonely to be the prime minister as you do not know what the outcome will be,” he said.
On the economic front, Najib said that when he took over the helm of the country, he was confronted with challenges, including a deficit of 6.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
“I had to make a hard choice to bring down the deficit gradually from 6.6 per cent in 2009 to 3.9 per this year and, hopefully, a balanced budget by 2020.
“Once you are strong (economically), you can withstand shock. Once our economy is resilient, we can go through and emerge as a strong economy,” he said.
Najib said: “As your leader, I want to look to the future. The decisions to be made will be good for all Malaysians.”
On another note, the prime minister also shared the story of a boy born on the second floor of a grocery shop in Kuala Krai who has now succeeded on the world stage as a fashion designer. Datuk Zang Toi was present at the dinner, and sat at the same table with Najib.
“Whether in New York or all over the world, we are Malaysians. Take pride to be Malaysian. You are still Malaysian and a true Malaysian. What is important is to be with us as 1Malaysia,” Najib said.—BERNAMA