Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak wrapped up a 5-day China visit during which he signed as many as 14 MoUs and agreed to buy naval vessels from China in a drift away from US military ties, triggering a backlash back home that made him reiterate the country is not being sold off to China.
"There seems to be some who don't appear to welcome this investment in the Malaysian economy, and don't seem to want the resulting jobs, skills and improvement in people's lives... Some have scare mongered that Malaysia is being sold off. This is absurd and absolutely false," Najib said in a statement issued in Beijing.
Deals worth 232 billion RMB, RM143 billion, were signed with China, which is Malaysia's biggest reading partner. These include 16 government-to-government deals, as well as corporate business agreements.
Major Chinese investments in the pipeline include the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) which will offer better connectivity to far-flung East Coast states, Najib said. However, facing critic back home for the expansive Chinese aid in development projects, Najib reiterated that the infrastructure projects will remain owned by Malaysia and operated by Malaysians.
During the prime minister's visit Malaysia agreed to buy up to 10 Littoral Mission Ships from China in what was seen as a drift away from the traditional military alliance with the US. The deal would be Malaysia's first significant defence deal with China and has come a time when Najib's relations with the US took a sour turn following the investigation into the 1Malaysia Berhad funding scandal that rocked the Malaysian government.
"On November 5, 2016, the Defence Ministry will sign a contract for the procurement of Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) with SASTIND (the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense), which is an important part of the schedule during the Prime Minister's official visit to China," the Ministry of Defence said in a Facebook post.
Whereas the US Justice Department lawsuits implicate Najib in a money-laundering scandal, China cashed in on Najib's troubles by pumping in $2.3 billion to buy assets of the scandal-hit state fund 1MDB, in what was seen a s vote of confidence on the embattled prime minister.
It was Najib's father Malaysia's second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who put in place diplomatic ties with China back in 1974.