Today’s mainstream media continues the publicity blitz of how successful is the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s visit to the United States, with front-page photograph of what has been described as the “historic bilateral meeting” between him and United States President Barack Obama.
However, a strange thing happened. Obama praised Najib in their meeting but this praise from United States President has been completely blacked out by the Malaysian mainstream media when it would normally be trumpeted not only nationally but also internationally.
I have here the statement issued by the United States White House on the duo’s bilateral meeting.
It said: “The President congratulated Prime Minister Najib for recent action on the Strategic Goods Act, which will strengthen the ability of Malaysian authorities to take action against individuals and entities engaged in proliferation.”
One would have thought that such praise from the US President to the Malaysian Prime Minister would have become the screaming headlines of the Malaysian mainstream media, but no, there was not a word of the US President’s praise for the Malaysian Prime Minister in the mainstream media in Malaysia, whether New Straits Times, Star, Utusan Malaysia or Berita Harian.
Najib seems to be embarrassed by such praise from the US President that it is blacked out by the Malaysian mainstream media. Why?
One reason is the revelation that Parliament had been treated shabbily as it had rush through the enactment of the Strategic Goods Act to time it for Najib’s visit to the United States to meet with President Obama – and this fact was hidden from knowledge of Parliament.
This is shame, disrespect and contempt of Parliament.
The Strategic Trade Bill 2010 was first tabled in Parliament on a Thursday (1st April) and its debate and passage was rushed through on the following Monday (5th April) – not giving MPs adequate time to study its implications and ramifications, all to suit the Prime Minister’s timetable of meeting the US President in his Washington visit.
In the event, Najib was given praise by Obama but which had to be blacked out in all the mainstream media!
On the eve of Najib’s visit to the United States, the Malaysian Ambassador to the United States Datuk Seri Dr. Jamaluddin Jarjis boasted about his publicity success with the US media, showing off a whole-page newspaper coverage for Malaysia in conjunction with Najib’s visit.
But this full-page coverage for Malaysia is not in the two leading US dailies, Washington Post or New York Times but the little-known Washington Times. Washingtion Post has a daily circulation of 673,180 copies and on Sunday, 890,163 while New York Times has a daily circulation of 1 million which shoots up to 1.4 million on Sunday.
What is Washington Times’ circulation? A paltry 102,258 copies.
Washington Times is a struggling low-circulation newspaper which was founded by Rev. Moon from South Korea and is now looking for a new buyer.
Is Malaysia, through its world-wide publicity consultant agency, APCO, considering buying over Washington Times?
The full-page coverage of Malaysia by Washington Times appears to be an advertorial, which means it was paid to publish it. How much did the full-page advertorial on Malaysia in Washington Times cost and was it paid by Malaysian taxpayers, directly or indirectly?
Najib is scheduled to launch the Malaysia-United States (Congressional) Caucus in Washington tomorrow.
I call on the Prime Minister to postpone the launching of the Malaysia-United States (Congressional) Caucus until there could be Pakatan Rakyat parliamentary representation or the caucus he would be launching would merely be a Barisan Nasional-US (Congressional) Caucus, which would only embarrass himself and the nation making him and the country the butt of jokes in the Washington cocktail circuit.
I have received information from Washington through email which does not throw a flattering light on the so-called launching of the Malaysia-US (Congressional) caucus.
Let me read from this email:
The launching of the Malaysia – United States Parliamentary Caucus about which you have posted on your blog is a most curious animal! I did a Google and also a search on the US Congress website but found nothing about this “great entity” ; nor did I see any references to the upcoming event other than from Malaysian sources!
The only reference I could find was a brief one on the homepage of Congressman Gregory W. Meeks’ (which reads as below) and also a reference to Congresswoman Barbara Lee being a member. Neither of these are very senior in the Congressional leadership hierarchy. Both are Democrats. Thus it does not appear to be a bi-partisan group.
“As a Member concerned with maintaining and promoting a close, positive relationship with Malaysia, we are expanding the Congressional Malaysia Trade, Security and Economic Caucus. This Caucus will promote a mature political relationship between the U.S. and Malaysia. Also, it will serve as an independent vehicle for Members of Congress to articulate their views on U.S. – Malaysia relations and as a source of information on political, security, and economic related issues. Finally, it will work to strengthen the discourse on bilateral and regional issues by engaging Malaysia perspectives on issues of mutual interest.”
This description, vague as it is, says little about the practical ways it will contribute to enhancing relationships. As I understand it, these Caucuses have no role in the legislative or other congressional/parliamentary processes. In a sense they are contact points for lobbyists and they operate as talk shops. The bottom line is: they represent no big deal and I do not understand why Najib, Nazri & company are making a big song and dance. It is also far from clear how the Malaysian side will operate in what is largely a US entity. On the other hand if there is going to be Malaysian participation in the Caucus, it is far from clear what it will entail. Cynically, one can assume that there will be visits, golf tournaments and other forms of entertainment at the tax-payer’s expense.
In the interest of our international reputation as well as the Prime Minister’s good name, Najib should cancel the launching of the unrepresentative Malaysian-US (Congressional) caucus only represented by BN and “independent” MPs from Malaysia on the one side and low-level Congress representatives on the part of the United States.
[Speech on the first 2010 Supplementary estimates in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday April 13, 2010]