Najib: Cooperation between Malaysia and China should continue

Fielding the press: Najib speaking to reporters after the launch of the 2021 World Chinese Economic Forum in Petaling Jaya. — ART CHEN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Chinese community has shown entrepreneurial skill, tenacity, ability and grit in facing and overcoming adversity, says Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“In this regard, any post-(Covid-19) pandemic recovery will count on their inherent strength to contribute to the recovery,” the former prime minister said in his speech at the 2021 World Chinese Economic Forum here yesterday.

Najib also expressed hope that the cooperation between China and Malaysia would be extended for common interests and benefits.

“I hope China and Malaysia, along with all other countries, can hold high the torch of multilateralism, banish the dark clouds of unilateralism and ultimately usher in development, peace and stability for the world and all of humanity,” he added.

On another matter, Najib said being a Malaysian at heart was more important than the utensils used by the Chinese community for eating.

“It doesn’t matter if Malaysian Chinese eat with chopsticks, forks and spoons or their hands, as long as in their hearts and minds, they are truly Malaysians,” he added.

He was commenting on the controversial statement by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the Chinese had not assimilated with other Malaysians because they still used chopsticks to eat.

At a press conference, World Chinese Economic Forum chairman Cheah Chyuan Yong said Najib’s father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein had called on China and also worked with the Chinese government.

“During Najib’s nine-year tenure as the prime minister, both Malaysia and China had a strong relationship in terms of the economy,” he said.

To a question on why the organiser had invited Najib to the event as his image seemed “less positive”, Cheah said the invitation was sent out before his recent court conviction.

However, he said there had also been no objection to inviting him after a discussion was held with several parties.

“We decided to invite him to deliver the keynote speech. It has nothing to do with him being convicted or not,” Cheah added.

Meanwhile, Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, who founded the World Chinese Economic Forum in 2009, made it clear that he was not the organiser of yesterday’s forum.

He said he got to know that the organiser of yesterday’s event had been using the same name, which had caused confusion.

Lee said he felt embarrassed when his friends asked him why he had invited Najib to launch the forum.

“I wish to put it on record that this new ‘World Chinese Economic Forum’ has nothing to do with me,” he added.

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