LAST_UPDATESun, 27 May 2018 11am

Najib's US Visit Shows Malaysia Is Economically Independent

KUALA LUMPUR -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s just-concluded visit to the United States is an important indication that Malaysia is not favouring any country in developing its economy.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said with the surge of investments from China, Malaysia was seen to be leaning more towards Beijing, but this visit proved that it was still non-aligned.

More information on the outcome of the visit is needed to ascertain how Malaysia would benefit from it, he said, adding that he was surprised that the announcements so far focused more on Malaysia’s proposed purchases and investments in the US.

“We need to know what this visit has generated for Malaysia,” he said when commenting on Najib’s three-day visit to Washington DC which ended Wednesday during which he held a four-eyed meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House.

During the ensuing delegation meeting, Najib said national carrier Malaysia Airlines would buy 16 Boeing aircraft, with an additional purchase rights of eight planes, as well as a strong probability that the national carrier to add 24 or 25 more planes in the near future.

“So, within five years, with the additional purchase, the deal will be worth beyond US$10 billion (US$1=RM4.2040),” the prime minister told the meeting.

Najib also announced the Employee Provident Fund’s (EPF) intention to expand its investment by US$3 billion to US$4 billion in the US on top of its existing investment of almost US$7 bilion.

Commenting on this, an economist said EPF has always been investing abroad as part of its overseas investment strategy and looking at the current situation in other developed nations, the US would be the obvious choice at the moment.

Japan is still having an issue with their aging population while Eurozone recovery is still fresh and it is still saddled with the Brexit issue, he said.

On the proposed purchase by Malaysia Airlines, Wan Saiful said more information was needed on how the national carrier would utilise the new planes.

“Malaysia Airlines needs to explain how this fits into their business plan,” he added.