U.S. President Barack Obama’s meeting Friday with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak stands out on a long list of his one-on-one talks with world leaders this week because the premier is under fire over a multi-million dollar funding scandal.
Obama could hardly skip a meeting with Najib, who is hosting Obama at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, but it might not be a photo op the White House touts. While the two played golf in Hawaii last year, Najib now faces pressure to explain how 2.6 billion ringgit ($607 million) ended up in his personal bank accounts in 2013, and has cracked down on dissenters while using sedition laws to detain media executives.
Even as the two held a 45-minute meeting and posed for the cameras, Obama showed concern from the start of his three-day trip about what’s been going on in Malaysia. At his first appointment — a town hall event at a university — a relaxed, shirt-sleeved Obama told young leaders from the 10 Asean countries that he’d raise the issue of government transparency and press freedom with Najib.
“I was going to do it anyway, but now that I hear it from you, I’m definitely going to do it,” he told the audience. During the town hall he addressed issues ranging from climate change to inequality, U.S. political gridlock and the recent elections in Myanmar.
In his remarks after meeting Obama, Najib said Malaysia is “taking into account some of” the president’s views. “Malaysia is committed to reforms,” Najib said. “And we are committed to ensuring at the same time there is peace and stability.” The two also discussed Islamic State and terrorism, tensions in the disputed South China Sea and human trafficking.
Obama said the leaders talked about the importance of civil society — in Malaysia and the region more broadly. They discussed “how we can promote those values that will encourage continued development and opportunity and prosperity,” Obama said. “I very much appreciate this conversation.”
Najib has rarely answered questions from the media since the funding scandal broke in July, when the Wall Street Journal reported that about $700 million may have moved through government agencies and state-linked companies to his private accounts. Najib has denied taking money for personal gain.
Opposition lawmakers and some in Najib’s own party have asked questions over the funds, which reached his accounts before the 2013 general election. Najib has acknowledged the money but said it was political donations from the Middle East, an initial conclusion also reached by the anti-corruption commission.
The accounts have since been closed. The receipt of political funds was to meet the needs of the party and the community and wasn’t a new practice, the official Bernama news agency has said, citing Najib.
The scandal has fueled political tensions with Najib firing his deputy in July, while thousands of anti-government protesters rallied in the capital in August. The imbroglio has unnerved foreign investors in Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy, contributing to a sell-off last quarter in Malaysian markets.
Malaysia is one of the 12 nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which has been a key element of Obama’s security and economic rebalance to Asia. The U.S. has also been working with Malaysia on countering terrorism, the importance of which was highlighted by last week’s attacks in Paris and Friday’s hostage-taking in Mali.
“Malaysia like Indonesia are majority Muslim countries that represent tolerance and peace,” Obama said. “Malaysia’s willingness to host a center that uses all the tools of social media with scholars and clerics to counter” extremism is important, he said.
“Malaysia is part of the coalition to fight ISIL and has been particularly helpful on issues like countering the destructive and perverse narrative that’s developed.”
The Southeast Asian nation has arrested dozens of suspects who authorities said were plotting attacks in the country or linked to Islamic State. Some have been arrested upon their return from Syria.
Earlier this week Najib said he was “shocked and sickened” by the murder of Malaysian engineer Bernard Then, who was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf Islamic militant group in the southern Philippines. Then was the first Malaysian hostage to be beheaded by the group.
University Of Ibadan (UI) Goes Digital, Releases Timetable for Virtual Academic Session
University of Ibadan (UI) on Friday announced it is going ahead with resumption on February 20 despite the second wave of COVID-19.
In a statement released by the school, the First Semester of the 2020/2021 academic session will commence virtually on February 20, 2021.
The virtual academic session will last for 13 straight weeks and end on Friday May 12, 2021, while the matriculation ceremony will hold on Tuesday March 16, 2021.
The University of Ibadan also scheduled one week for the Finalization of Continuous Assessment, to begin from Mon. 17 May and ends Friday 21 May.
The rising number of COVID-19 cases has compelled the Senate to approve the virtual academic session in an effort to ensure the tertiary institution abides by the protocols established by the Federal Government to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“It, therefore, agreed that the 2020/2021 First Semester lectures will be delivered online. In this regard, students will not be accommodated on campus,” a statement from the school said.
“Senate also approved the cancellation of the 2019/2020 session. The next session is, therefore, renamed 2020/2021 Academic Session. Consequently, students who have been admitted for the 2019/2020 session will now be regarded as the 2020/2021 intakes.
“Kindly note that online opening of Registration Portal and Orientation Programme for the 2020/2021 intakes may commence ahead of the Sat 20/02/21 date indicated above,” the statement said.
House of Representatives Impeached Trump Over Capitol Invasion
The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for the second time after instigating the US Capitol invasion.
Led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, 232 representatives, including 10 Republicans, voted to impeach the outgoing president against 197 that voted for him to remain in the office for the next six days when he would handover to the president-elect, Joe Biden.
The ten Republicans were Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 leader in the House; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton of Michigan; Dan Newhouse of Washington; Peter Meijer of Michigan; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; David Valadao of California; and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Speaking before the vote, Pelosi said “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the Republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”
Republicans, who unanimously stood behind president Trump in 2019 during his first impeachment, were divided this time over the attack on Capitol.
A Republican representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, said “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” Mr. McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
US Congress Declares Joe Biden as The 46th President of The United States After Trump Mob Left
The joint congress of the United States on Thursday, January 7, 2021 certified Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States following President Trump’s mob action that disrupted the congress joint proceeding on Wednesday.
After ordering his followers to disrupt proceedings on Wednesday, President Trump later announced that there will be an orderly transition on January 20.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement issued by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino.
“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” Trump added.
While the certification was just a mere formality as Biden had secured enough electoral college votes (270) required to clinch the world’s most powerful seat, the refusal of Donald Trump to accept the results of the November 2020 election made the session a keenly watched, especially after Trump mob disrupted a joint session of the Senate.
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