Malaysian Opposition wants Obama to freeze TPPA talks pending US probes on 1MDB, PM


(Malay Mail Online) – US President Barack Obama should suspend all Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations with Malaysia pending the country’s investigations on entities linked to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and 1 Malaysian Development Bhd (1MDB), Pakatan Harapan said today.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail also urged Obama to cancel his scheduled meeting with Najib this November, saying that latter needed to first resolve his “credibility crisis” as a leader.

“The US should suspend all negotiations involving the TPPA with Datuk Seri Najib Razak to avoid the perception that there is a conflict of interest which might occur as a result of the investigation.

“Pakatan Harapan also reminds Datuk Seri Najib Razak to not use the pressure of an investigation by the US as an excuse to sign the TPPA which is against Malaysia’s interests and sovereignty,” she said in a news conference, reading out a joint statement signed by top leaders from PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah).

Dr Wan Azizah said negotiations over the controversial trade agreement should only resume once Najib is able to satisfactorily resolve the allegations against him and 1MDB.

Last Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the US Justice Department has convened a grand jury to consider possible indictments for corruption over property purchases worth hundreds of millions in the US by individuals associated with the Malaysian prime minister.

According to another report by the Wall Street Journal, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has also opened an investigation for possible money laundering activities in entities linked to 1MDB.

The US investigations are the latest announced on 1MDB by a foreign country, and joins ongoing probes in Switzerland, the SAR of Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.

The WSJ previously published a series of reports detailing dubious activity allegedly involving 1MDB, beginning with an exposé in July on the US$700 million (RM3.06 billion) deposit in Najib’s accounts.

It followed up last month with another report alleging that US$1.4 billion in payments from 1MDB to a UAE sovereign fund was missing from the Middle Eastern firm’s accounts.

The July report, in particular, appeared to trigger a series of events in Malaysia that eventually led to the amount being declared a donation from the Middle East while local investigations into 1MDB were also either suspended or repurposed.

PM Najib has denied any impropriety over the US$700 million donation, which was described as a political donation to the Umno party that he heads.

The TPPA is a free trade agreement that has been negotiated by the US, Malaysia and nine other nations as part of the larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership since 2010.