British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged his Malaysian counterpart Najib Abdul Razak to clean up his government, reported The Telegraph.
The UK daily’s headline on yesterday’s meeting between the two leaders in Putrajaya read, ‘David Cameron challenges Malaysian PM Najib Razak on corruption’.
According to the report, Cameron confronted Najib over the “deepening corruption scandal that threatens to bring down his government.”
The Telegraph added allegations of US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) of 1MDB-linked funds ending up in the personal bank accounts of Najib has overshadowed Cameron’s visit to build trade ties.
“During a long, one-to-one meeting, Cameron on Thursday urged Najib to clean up his government.
“In a pointed move, he then met with civil society leaders, including journalists, the G25 group of campaigners and lawyers, who are campaigning for greater democracy and a free press,” read the article.
Cameron reportedly also challenged Najib over the treatment of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving a five-year prison sentence.
The daily also reported British prime minister’s national security adviser Kim Darroch meeting with Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah.
“They discussed building a free press and her father's treatment,” said The Telegraph.
According to the article, Cameron, who faced demands from some opposition figures to cancel the visit, said, “It is right to go ahead with the visit, but nothing should be off the table. We should talk about these issues including the specific ones now.”
“We always have discussions with civil society figures, anti-corruption campaigners, opposition leaders and all the rest and that will happen on this visit too.
“I don't think it helps not travelling to a country and turning away. It is better to go and talk about these things,” he added.
UK officials, according to The Telegraph, stressed the visit was to build relationships between peoples, not leaders.
Cameron repeats call
After the one-to-one meeting with Najib, the report said Cameron is understood to have repeated his message to a wider gathering of Malaysian government figures in front of the PM.
On July 3, Wall Street Journal quoted information from Malaysian investigators that RM2.6 billion was allegedly deposited into the premier’s personal bank accounts just ahead of the last general election, leading to speculation that the money was used for the campaign.
Najib responded to the report claiming he has never used public funds for personal gain, but has remained tightlipped on whether the allegation of the fund transfer was true.
On Wednesday, a video surfaced in which former deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin claimed that Najib had admitted the money had gone into his personal accounts.
Najib removed Muhyiddin from his cabinet on Tuesday, some 48 hours after the latter made a hard-hitting speech on the 1MDB imbroglio.