SINGAPORE (Sept 11): Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Sunday fired a salvo at his political opponents, just one day before his scheduled visit to Washington from Sept 11 to 13 at the invitation of US President Donald Trump.

In a strongly-worded entry on his blog, Najib says the political opposition and their allies have “sought to blacken our country’s name in the American media, making a series of wild claims, culminating in the false claim that Malaysia is in danger of sliding into dictatorship.”

The outburst comes after a series of scathing reports in the US ahead of Najib’s visit to the White House.

The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among others, lashed out against the invitation to the Malaysian leader, who is currently facing investigations by the US Justice Department over his involvement in a billion-dollar corruption scandal.

The Justice Department in July filed a civil complaint in a money-laundering case outlining how hundreds of millions of dollars from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) sovereign wealth fund that Najib oversaw ended up in his personal bank accounts.

See: 1MDB witnesses 'too scared to talk' in fear of retaliation

Najib, identified as “Malaysian Official 1” in court documents, has insisted that the money was a gift from an unidentified Saudi donor, and has consistently denied ever receiving any money from 1MDB.

Meanwhile, the US Justice Department says some US$30 million ($41.5 million) of funds stolen from 1MDB was used to buy jewellery for Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor.

See: Malaysia PM’s wife linked to US$30 mil worth of jewellery bought with 1MDB funds

Over the years, Najib has also been accused of other transgressions, including links to a murder, pocketing kickbacks from the purchase of military hardware, and aiding the wrongful criminal prosecution of a political rival.

See: Najib's associate charged over French submarine deal linked to murder of Mongolian translator

Najib says these reports are the result of his rivals “falsely running down Malaysia’s vibrant democracy and spreading smears and falsehoods” for political gain.

“That does not show pride in what we have achieved. Nor does it demonstrate love of our country,” he says. “In fact, when it comes to fiercely fought elections and the freedom to speak your mind, Malaysia has the strongest and longest democratic record in the whole of Southeast Asia.”

See: Real patriots don’t try to blacken our country’s name abroad just for political gain

The WSJ’s editorial board in a commentary on Sept 6 warned that Trump could be “conned” by Najib. It also questioned the bestowing of a coveted White House visit to a leader who has jailed his political opponent and is a suspect in a one of the largest corruption scandals the world has ever seen.

“If Malaysia slides into dictatorship, it will almost surely fall into Beijing’s orbit. The US relationship depends on Malaysia remaining a viable democracy,” WSJ added.

While Najib did not name the publication, it is believed that he was referring to the WSJ article in his post.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post on Sept 3 called Trump’s hosting of Malaysia’s prime minister “another setback for the rule of law”. It also published an opinion by Cynthia Gabriel, the founder of an anti-corruption organisation in Malaysia, calling the White House invitation “a terrible idea”.

On Sept 9, just two days before his scheduled trip, The New York Times pointed out that Najib’s visit to the White House might give him “a chance to offset the political damage” from investigations into the alleged 1MDB corruption.

See: Could Najib’s White House visit end US scrutiny of 1MDB?