Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is under fire over golfing with US President Barack Obama at a time when the country is witnessing the wrath of worst floods, said on Saturday that his interaction with the American President in Hawaii and the golf game with him was on the pretext of building diplomatic relations with the United States.
Najib said that his visit to Hawaii and interaction with the US President should not be misinterpreted with a deliberate action of ignoring the crisis created due to the floods in the country. He also asked the opposition to not give the political color to the incident.
He further said that his meeting with Obama and the golf game had been planned much earlier in order to improve the diplomatic ties with the US for the betterment of the country.
He added that as the invitation was already extended during Obama’s April visit to this country, hence declining the invitation again was not seen in a good spirit for Malaysia.
Addressing a press conference after observing the flood-hit areas in Kelantan, Najib said, “Actually, during President Obama’s visit to Malaysia, he had said that if coincidentally I were in Hawaii together with him (Obama), he would like to play golf with me (Najib). And playing golf is not something strange or extraordinary…because during the times of Tun Abdul Razak (Malaysia’s second prime minister), Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman (second deputy prime minister), playing golf with world leaders could be described as golf diplomacy.”
Najib said that he was receiving regular updates on the flood situation from Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Director of the National Disaster Management Committee.
The Prime Minister said after observing the after effects of the floods, he shortened his vacation and directly flew to Kota Baharu in order take stock of the situation.
“Every day when I was there, I received the latest report on the flood situation…as it became more serious, I decided to return to the country as soon as possible and went directly to Kota Baharu. I have not even returned home yet. And (I) made the immediate visit to demonstrate that the government is very committed to continue to assist the flood victims,” Najid said.
The Facebook page of Najib was flooded with angry reactions after news reports about the Prime Minister playing golf with Obama surfaced.