As the 1MDB scandal exploded, beleaguered former Prime Minister Najib Razak cut an increasingly forlorn figure on the international stage, looking distinctly out of place. CW looks back at some of these classic moments.
An article last year, “Why are foreign leaders snubbing Najib ahead of Malaysia’s election?” noted that leaders of Saudi Arabia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, China, and other world leaders had been ignoring ex-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
At the time, then Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak argued that the article was an example of “fake news”.
But was it? Now that Najib is due in court soon to stand trial for international financial crimes, it is worth revisiting five occasions when he appeared to be ignored by world leaders.
In this infamous 2015 photo (top) at a meeting of world leaders in Montmorency, France, Najib looked conspicuously ignored and out of place.
For context, by 2015, Najib’s 1MDB scandal had already grown into an international embarrassment to Malaysia.
On 13 September 2017, this photo from Najib’s own website shows that he delivered a speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, attended by an audience of “Southeast Asia policy experts, U.S. Government officials, and other thought leaders”.
But some in the audience don’t appear particularly interested in what Najib is saying.
In Saudi Arabia
On 21 May 2017, world leaders, including Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and US President Donald Trump, launched the Global Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh.
Once again, Najib looks sidelined.
By the European Union
Last January before the 2018 general election, 17 European Union ambassadors and leading diplomats held a two-hour meeting with Pakatan Harapan leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
According to news reports, “the meeting was focused on pressuring Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration to ensure that the 14th general election is conducted fairly.”
To our knowledge, the EU leaders never invited Najib to a similar meeting.
At Asean, by US President Trump
Finally this viral video captured at the 2017 Asean summit in Manila: US President Donald Trump sees Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor walking towards him, presumably to have a chat.
But the US president notices the couple, immediately stops chatting with the Indonesian president, folds his arms and silently ignores the Malaysian couple while they walk away.
Overall, global leaders probably ignored Najib because of his poor international reputation. He is due in court soon to stand trial for stealing billions from the Malaysian people.
Speaking of which, ever since Najib was ousted by Malaysian voters, has any government in the region missed him? Probably not.
CW is the pseudonym of a regular Aliran reader.