'Umno's support of extremists' should be top agenda at US meeting

Nurul Izzah Anwar says to advance foreign policy goals and the mission of international security cooperation, US President Donald Trump must hold Prime Minister Najib Razak to account. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 12, 2017.

THE main topic of discussion during Prime Minister Najib Razak’s White House visit should be Umno’s alleged support of extremist groups in Malaysia, said Nurul Izzah Anwar in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

The PKR vice-president said the hatred and fear fuelled by Umno’s support of groups that routinely harassed the country’s minorities should be at the top of the agenda in the meeting with US President Donald Trump.

She said the Barisan Nasional government under Najib had not just turned a blind eye to extremism, but encouraged it, citing as an example Najib, in 2014, urging Umno members to emulate the “bravery” of Islamic State fighters if the party were to keep its hold on power.

“Any conversation with a purported partner against extremist violence who fails to address these concerns at home is pointless.”

She urged Trump to use his rapport as Najib’s former golfing buddy to send the message that Malaysia must first address its domestic issues before seeking to strengthen foreign commitments to fighting extremism.

“To advance his foreign policy goals and the mission of international security cooperation, Trump must hold Najib to account.

“Trump must make clear that Washington will no longer be silent when US-Malaysia cooperation on countering violent extremism is undermined by the Malaysian government itself.”

Nurul Izzah said print and broadcast media were more than 95% owned or controlled by the ruling party, and peaceful protests were routinely a cause for detention under anti-terrorism laws.

She called on Najib to immediately cease the persecution of journalists and opposition leaders, and release political prisoners, including her father, Anwar Ibrahim.

“I know this from first-hand experience. As an opposition MP, I was arrested under sedition laws and imprisoned with actual terror suspects simply for daring to raise questions in the legislature about the political imprisonment of my father.”

She said without reforms, Malaysia was not a reliable partner on counterterrorism, international security or economic development, and that “only a clear message, followed by strong action, would transform Malaysia from a liability to a credible ally” for the US. – September 12, 2017.

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