Monday, September 5, 2011

Pak Lah’s fishing trip to the Caribbean

Corrupt Barisan Nasional - KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s four-day “working visit” to two Caribbean islands in 2006 was the subject of a confidential US cable which raised questions over the purpose and the potential achievements for the countries involved.
The cable by US diplomats based in the Caribbean to the State Department in Washington DC came about two weeks after Abdullah completed his visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines from April 29 to May 2 in 2006.
The cable noted that Abdullah’s visit was more of a vacation rather than a working visit, in which the Malaysian premier had spend a day on a fishing trip with St Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.

“After meeting with PM Gonsalves, the Malaysian (Abdullah) vacationed for a few days on the Grenadine islands Mustique and Canuoan.
“He spent one of these days on a fishing trip accompanied by Gonsalves. PM Abdullah returned to St Vincent proper on May 2 and addressed Parliament before departing for Jamaica,” added the cable.
The cable noted that Mustique was a private island containing over 75 private villas, many of which are owned by international celebrities.
Canuoan meanwhile was the location of the high-end Raffles Resort and an opulent villa complex and golf course developed by Donald Trump.
The cable was leaked by whistleblower site WikiLeaks and handed over to Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia Today website which published it today.
Red carpet welcome
The US diplomats added in the cable that following Abdullah’s departure from St Vincent, a joint statement by the two countries expressed further interest in “enhancing cooperation” in a number of areas.
The cable also noted that the lack of a concrete agenda or results from Abdullah’s trip to St Vincent did little to clear up the circumstances surrounding Gonsalves’ earlier trip to Southeast Asia.
“When first announced, the Malaysian leader’s St Vincent trip appeared to suggest that PM Gonsalves had indeed accomplished something for his country by travelling to Southeast Asia earlier this year.
“Considering, however, that the ‘working visit’ was really a vacation, it does not appear that St Vincent will necessarily benefit from its PM’s previous globetrotting,” stated the cable.
“The lack of a concrete agenda or results from PM Abdullah’s trip does little to clear up the circumstances surrounding Gonsalves’s earlier trip to Southeast Asia, the purpose and financing of which remain unclear,” stated the cable.
The US cable also stated that the government of St Vincent “literally rolled out the red carpet for the Malaysian PM, who was greeted by the entire Cabinet and other dignitaries at St Vincent’s small airport when he arrived on April 29”.
Unwinding from pressures of work
Bernama had reported then that Abdullah’s visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines was at the invitation of Gonsalves. This was Abdullah’s first visit to the Caribbean region.
The national news agency said Abdullah would hold discussions with Gonsalves, address the House of Assembly, meet ordinary Vincentians and be briefed about Malaysian investment projects in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
However, another media report on the trip stated that Abdullah was stopping in St Vincent “mostly for a vacation and to unwind from the pressures of work”.
From St Vincent, Abdullah went on to Jamaica for a two-day “official visit”. It was reported by the local media then that the visit to Jamaica was to look into possible Malaysian investment in energy exploration and construction projects.
Abdullah’s delegation included Works Minister S Samy Vellu, Youth and Sports Minister Azalina Othman Said, Higher Education Minister Mustapa Mohamed and Deputy Foreign Minister Joseph Salang as well as senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry and other government agencies.
An official Foreign Ministry statement had said the visits would enable Abdullah to establish personal contact and forge closer rapport and understanding with both Gonsalves and Jamaica’s new Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
“He will also evaluate potential areas of cooperation and seek ways to enhance trade and investment activities between Malaysia and the two Caribbean countries,” the Foreign Ministry statement had said.
Also read:
WikiLeaks: Malaysia prime minister visits St. Vincent

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