Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah

February 23, 2014

Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah

imageby Din Merican

Karpal Singh has been convicted under s.4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 for saying that “the Sultan of Perak can be sued” for causing the removal of the PAS Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaludin, which  led to the BN seizing control of the state assembly through the back door by bringing in an unelected person to be Speaker,  thus giving majority to BN in the Perak State Assembly to install Zambry Kadir as Menteri Besar.

Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.

Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.

The story of the sneaking in of a new Speaker into the Perak state parliament; the story of how Regent Raja Nazrin waited from morning in the Royal Chambers to deliver his opening speech, only to get to do it in the late evening as if nothing had happened at all are all well documented.

Sivakumar is half pushed, half pulled out of the chambers. He was forcibly removed from the speaker's chair .

Sivakumar was half pushed, half pulled out of the chambers. He was forcibly removed from the speaker’s chair .

The Constitutional Crisis of Perak was unprecedented not only in Malaysian history but also in the history of any country in the world. Even the assassination of Julius Caesar could be justified because Julius Caesar wanted to be Emperor of Rome and Brutus and gang wanted to prevent him from getting that approval from the Roman Senate. Brutus justified the murder by saying “It is not that I love Caesar less but I love Rome more.” So, Julius was disposed in the Senate just before he became Caesar to protect democracy against dictatorship. In Perak, democracy was assassinated  right in the very house of a state parliament.

The Ruler asked Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to resign together with the executive council members. Sultan Azlan Shah also ominously declared - if they refuse to resign the post (of Menteri Besar and State Executive Councilors) would be considered vacant.

The Ruler asked Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to resign together with the executive council members.
Sultan Azlan Shah also ominously declared – if they refuse to resign the post (of Menteri Besar and State Executive Councilors) would be considered vacant.

And by whom?

By none other than the constitutional head of the state. This was democracy in modern times being crucified by the very person who is to be the umbrella and protector of democracy and the people’s rights to its elected government. And democracy died.

It is totally unjust and un-democratic for MPs to switch parties and claim that they still represent what the people voted them in for.

It is totally unjust and un-democratic for MPs to switch parties and claim that they still represent what the people voted them in for.

Given that dramatic event, is it beyond the reasonable man’s mind that the people would speak out? Is it beyond expectation that the Rakyat would rise and object? Even if those reposed with trust to advise the rulers on such matters abdicate their duty because of fear as in this proverb “Tohok Raja Tiada Dapat Dielakkan”, the history of mankind has shown that there will always be A Few Good Men who would speak out for the truth. Karpal Singh would not be called the Tiger of Jelutong if he did not roared out his views over something so manifestly wrong. At least Karpal did not throw stones at the royalty of Perak as some people did to express their disgust over what was seen as the palace complicity in the assassination of democracy.

I recall video footages and pictures of the people of Perak throwing stones at the Regent’s car. That was how disgusted the Rakyat felt towards the Perak royalty. As a Malay, I felt very sad to see the consequences when the royalty and monarchy are dragged to descend into the arena of gutter politics. That would be unthinkable in Thailand where the monarch has always remain impartial to party politics. And that impartiality ensures not only the monarchy’s survival in a modern democracy like Queen Elizabeth of England but also remain revered by the people like King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand. The monarchy must learn to read the Rakyat’s pulse and be a unifying force like how Winston Churchill encouraged the stuttering King George VI to deliver that famous speech unfiying Britons as Britain went to war in the  movie The King’s Speech.

A vehicle with a yellow (royal) registration plate, said to be ferrying Perak crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah, was pelted with stones by angry supporters of the PRU12, which has shown PR won the State of Perak.

A vehicle with a yellow (royal) registration plate, said to be ferrying Perak crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah, was pelted with stones by angry supporters of the PRU12, which has shown PR won the State of Perak.

Yet, in Perak the Rakyat’s expressed its utter disgust. Why?

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the chief judge of the country. There were much hopes when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan.

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the chief judge of the country. There were much hopes when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan.

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the Chief judge of the country. There was much hope when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan. There was hope that His Majesty would put some semblance of Rule of Law in the governance of his own state of Perak and in the country when Raja Azlan Shah became Yang DiPertuan Agong of Malaysia. The Perak Royalty was regarded as one of the more educated royalties of this country. So, when Raja Nazrin became regent and espoused all the ideals of good governance, the people became hopeful. The people agreed with everything Raja Nazrin said. He became a symbol of an enlightened royalty of Malaysia like the big white hope of boxing. But all hopes dissipated. That disappointment culminated in the manner that MB Nizar was deposed. And the Perak Royalty lost all credibility. I am saying this because people tell me so and it is my duty to convey this so that our royalty can reflect on their relevance and survival in a new world.

The prosecution and conviction of Karpal Singh who is a parliamentarian and a senior lawyer does nothing to instil respect, love and reverence for our royalty and monarchy. It will do the exact opposite as can be seen in the extinction of other monarchies in the world. If that happens, the Malays will have to blame UMNO, our Malay politicians and our Malay holders of public offices including the Judiciary for being less than wise in managing such issues.

ICJ's International Legal Advisor on Southeast Asia Emerlynne Gil said this conviction sends out a message that lawyers in Malaysia are not free to express their opinions about legal issues.

ICJ’s International Legal Advisor on Southeast Asia Emerlynne Gil said this conviction sends out a message that lawyers in Malaysia are not free to express their opinions about legal issues.

We, Malays, make such a big fuss about protecting kedaulatan Raja-Raja Melayu and, in doing so, we instigate for the prosecution of anyone especially non-Malays like Karpal to teach them a lesson not to memperlekehkan our Raja-Raja. As a result, we bring to the world’s attention the oppressiveness of our archaic laws and the abuses that can arise from such laws. In the end, we will be the losers because we never heed our own peribahasa – “Kasihkan Raja Di Atas Usungan”.

I will not explain the meaning of that proverb so that you, the readers, and hopefully all Malay politicians will research, read and apply that peribahasa in the proper context when dealing with our Malay royalty.

 Same case, same judge, different judgments -- only in the land of endless possibilities! mj

Same case, same judge, different judgments — only in the land of endless possibilities! mj

In prosecuting and convicting Karpal Singh, neither the Malay executive nor the Judiciary gave cogisance to another Malay legal maxim or peribahasa which is so significant in this context. If Karpal Singh can be convicted for sedition just for questioning the powers of a malay monarch, then this maxim must be expunged from the Malay perbendaharaan of peribahasa – “ Raja Adil Raja Disembah Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah“.

Malaysia in 2014–A Perspective from Singapore

February 22, 2014

Malaysia in 2014–A Perspective from Singapore

For Singapore, due to history, geography, demography, economy and recent political experiences, Malaysia has perpetually been its lynchpin concern and preoccupation. In the past, S Rajaratnam, the Republic’s first foreign minister, had described Singapore’s relations with Malaysia as ‘special’ and there is nothing to suggest that this has changed in anyway. If anything, the ‘specialness’ has been intensified and further reinforced due to a whole array of factors, not least being the imperatives of national, regional and international economics. A weakening United States, an assertive China, an unstable Thailand and a new nationalistic leader in Indonesia can change the political and security architecture in the region to the detriment of both states and hence, their bilateral ties.

MALAYSIA-SINGAPORE-DIPLOMACYIn the 1950s and 1960s, culminating in Singapore’s expulsion from Malaysia in August 1965, the emotive dimension of Singapore’s view of Malaysia was dominant. Even though this has largely dissipated, it is not totally absent. Still, the pragmatism with which both states have moved forward is definitely a milestone achievement in bilateral ties in Southeast Asia.

For Singapore, continuity rather than change remains its key perspective on Malaysia. This was especially true after the May 2013 general elections where the Barisan Nasional (BN: National Front) was returned to power albeit with a weaker majority. Still, Prime Minister Najib, the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) and the BN are in power and that is what matters even though the winds of change must also be disconcerting. The disquiet would be more, not so much from the economic aspect as it would be from the rising racial and religious polarisation of Malaysia in the last few years that was brought to the forefront during the last general elections.

The ‘Allah’ issue has not been helpful and the recent firebombing of a church in Penang has merely raised the ante of what this will mean for Malaysia and possibly, even multiracial and multi-religious Singapore. All that aside, the single most important development of late has been the rising warmth in Singapore-Malaysia bilateral ties under Lee Hsien Loong and Najib Tun Razak. While past imperatives of history, geography and demography remain relevant, most dominant in the new narrative has been the personal warmth of the two Prime Ministers (Lee and Najib) and the strategic nature of their bilateral ties.

Most of the past issues have been addressed or settled such as relocation of Customs and Immigration Complex, land reclamation and even water. Most importantly, has been the breakthroughs that both leaders have made vis-à-vis two issues, namely, the resolution of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and the land exchange deal as well as Singapore’s support for the Iskandar Development Project in Johor. Other positive developments in ties include the holding of annual leader’s retreats, re-establishment of links between both countries’ stock exchanges, Malaysia’s agreement to sell electricity to Singapore, the agreement to build high speed train link from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, the amicable post-Pedra Branca technical talks to resolve legacy issues over the islands’ dispute and finally, the establishment of a Singapore consulate in Johor Baru.

If there is one key factor that has brought bilateral ties to a new height, it is the cooperation in the Iskandar Project. Not only is the Singapore Government supporting investments in the project through Government-linked companies such as Temasek Holding but also playing an important role in encouraging the private sector to invest in the project. Additionally, thousands of Singaporeans are expected to be permanently based in the Iskandar region and Johor as a whole, bringing interdependence to a level that was never seen before. To that extent, Iskandar has been the key game changer in Singapore-Malaysia bilateral ties of late.

The breakthrough in bilateral ties was a function of a number of factors. First, the decision by both sides to adopt a new approach to bilateral ties in order to garner win-win results. Second, the personal warmth of the top leaders was extremely helpful. Third, the calculation of the mutual benefits that would be gained by both sides in view of the increasing regional and global competition. Fourth, over the years, there has also been increasing economic interdependence with Singapore as one of the top investors in Malaysia over the last two decades or so. Two-way trade and investments are among the highest between the two states. Fifth, there is also the realisation of increasing security indivisibility of both states. Finally, the ideological pragmatism of both sides has also helped in boosting bilateral ties.

While Singapore expects Malaysia in 2014 to have a largely ‘normal’ year barring any unexpected events – all the more to be the case as the UMNO annual assembly has opted for status quo – the Republic is also mindful of the many uncertainties that can unexpectedly crop up to affect bilateral ties. While 2014 can expect the warming of ties to continue, this cannot be taken for granted. First, the warm ties of two Prime Minister, both of whom are sons of two former prime ministers  who were not close, may not survive personalities if a more nationalistic prime minister takes over in Singapore or Malaysia. Second, tensions could surface if the promised cooperation proves futile or produces one-sided benefits, say in Iskandar Project. Finally, growing domestic tensions in Malaysia, especially among the Malay and Chinese communities in Johor or in Malaysia could spill over into Singapore-Malaysia relations.

Hence, for Singapore, while Malaysia in 2014 is expected to continue ‘good business as normal’, there are also potential minefields that might explode, and hence, the need for caution. ‘Special relations’ are important but can never be taken for granted, and this also holds true of Singapore’s view of Malaysia in 2014.

Bilveer Singh is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore, adjunct senior fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies and President of the Political Science Association of Singapore.

Karpal’s Sedition Conviction is Bad News for Malaysia

February 22, 2014

Karpal’s Sedition Conviction is Bad News for Malaysia

by V Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor, The Malaysian Insider


karpal-singhDAP lawmaker Karpal Singh’s (pic, above) conviction for sedition reaffirms the return of authoritarianism and political persecution, a lawyers’ group said.

 So now giving one's legal opinion is deemed seditious! mj

So now giving one’s legal opinion is deemed seditious! mj

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) Executive Director Eric Paulsen said this was apparent following the dismissal earlier this week of P. Uthayakumar’s appeal, also for sedition.

He said the return of authoritarianism and political persecution followed a brief lull during which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made a series of democratic reforms which turned out to be a rebranding exercise and ultimately, false.

“Karpal’s conviction has once again reaffirmed Najib’s false reformist credentials,” he said in a statement today.

Paulsen said Najib  had not only broken the promise he made on July 11, 2012, when he announced that the Sedition Act would be abolished but his administration has increasingly abused sedition charges against opposition leaders and dissidents like Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Adam Adli, Hishamuddin Rais and Suhaimi Shafie.

Najib  had not only broken the promise he made on July 11, 2012, when he announced that the Sedition Act would be abolished but his administration has increasingly abused sedition charges against opposition leaders and dissidents like Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Adam Adli, Hishamuddin Rais and Suhaimi Shafie..

Najib had not only broken the promise he made on July 11, 2012, when he announced that the Sedition Act would be abolished but his administration has increasingly abused sedition charges against opposition leaders and dissidents like Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Adam Adli, Hishamuddin Rais and Suhaimi Shafie..

“Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.”

Paulsen said the investigations and prosecutions were a waste of public funds. Police and the Attorney General’s Chambers’ resources would also have been better used to address real crimes.

“LFL, therefore, calls on the police and AG’s Chambers to conduct themselves in a professional, fair and independent manner and not to selectively and in bad faith target Opposition leaders and dissidents when government leaders and others connected to them like Datuk Ibrahim Ali, Datuk Zulkilfi Noordin, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah and Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah have made more serious and offensive speeches but led to no repercussion or action.”

He said LFL was shocked by the High Court conviction of Karpal. He now faces imprisonment up to five years and disqualification as member of parliament.

“Making political or critical comments is not a crime and especially so in this case. Karpal was merely giving his legal opinion on the 2008 constitutional crisis in Perak and under no circumstances can it be described as seditious.”

He said while it was true freedom of speech was not absolute and there were accepted limitations like incitement to violence and hate speech, the threshold for freedom of expression, however, must be high.

Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said politicians and those critical of the establishment had to deal the archaic law as it was still in the statute book.

“It is unfortunate the senior lawyer has been found guilty for merely stating the law and the facts to the public as there was a belief by certain quarters that the rulers enjoyed immunity and no legal action could be taken against them.”

He said an ordinary person would now feel fearful to express in public his legitimate views about the affairs of the state and leaders.

“This in a way will close the door for the authorities to gauge the true sentiment of the public. Fear will be used by the government as a  tool to maintain their grip on power.”

High Court judge Datuk Paduka Azman Abdullah today found Karpal guilty of uttering seditious words against the Sultan of Perak at the height of the constitutional crisis in 2009.

 Same case, same judge, different judgments -- only in the land of endless possibilities! mj

Same case, same judge, different judgments — only in the land of endless possibilities! mj

Sentence has been deferred to March 7 for Karpal’s defence team to prepare mitigation to obtain a lighter sentence.

On Tuesday, a High Court also upheld the jail sentence of two years and six months imposed on lawyer P. Uthayakumar by the Sessions Court for writing a letter of a seditious nature to former British prime minister Gordon Brown seven years ago. – February 21, 2014.

Malaysia’s Anifah Aman on Foreign Policy: Promoting Peace and Moderation

February 22, 2014

Malaysia’s Foreign Policy: Promoting Peace and Moderation

by Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Anifah Aman


FOREIGN POLICY GOALS: World acknowledging Malaysia’s role in promoting peace and moderation.

AnifahAmanA COUNTRY’S foreign policy consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its own goals through relations with other countries.

While interactions with other countries through bilateral means remain the core element of foreign policy, multilateralism is also an important facet in foreign policy when dealing with collective concerns and issues of common interests.

In today’s complex international environment with fast changing political realities in many countries, foreign policy imperatives have become equally complex, calling for a more flexible, pragmatic and accommodative stance.

Over the years, Malaysia’s foreign policy has come to encompass trade, finance, human rights, environment and culture apart from the political relations.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has established a total of 107 missions (missions in Baghdad and Damascus are temporarily closed)  in 83 countries and appointed 53 Honorary Consuls who provide support and assistance in promoting Malaysia’s interests and safeguarding the country’s image abroad.

The objectives of Malaysia’s Foreign Policy are:

  • MAINTAINING peaceful relations with all countries regardless of their ideology and political system;
  • ADOPTING an independent, non-aligned, and principled stance in regional and international diplomatic affairs;
  • FORGING close relations and economic partnerships with all nations, particularly with ASEAN and other regional friends;
  • PROMOTING peace and stability in the region through capacity building and conflict resolution measures;
  • PLAYING an influential leadership role in ASEAN, the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC);
  • PARTICIPATING actively and meaningfully in the United Nations, especially in the efforts to end injustice and oppression, and to uphold international law; and,
  • PROJECTING Malaysia as a leading example of a tolerant and progressive Islamic nation.

The evolution of Malaysia’s Foreign Policy

Malaysia’s Foreign Policy since Iindependence in 1957 has evolved and isasean1 characterised by the notable changes in political stewardship. It began with the nation’s emphasis on nation-building under Tunku Abdul Rahman, to non-alignment and an Islamic nation under Tun Abdul Razak, to consolidation and ASEAN as a cornerstone of Malaysia’s Foreign Policy under Tun Hussein Onn.

Malaysia saw greater economic orientation and advocacy for the rights of developing countries under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the strengthening of ASEAN as a rule-based organisation under Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Malaysia’s Foreign Policy thrusts are the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) and the transformation agendas towards making Malaysia a high income developed nation by the year 2020.

Fostering close bilateral relations with neighbouring countries remains a high priority. ASEAN is the cornerstone of Malaysia’s Foreign Policy. A strong and successful ASEAN is not only an economic necessity but also a strategic imperative. A prosperous, consolidated and stable ASEAN is a security deposit for Southeast Asia and Asia at large.

Building and deepening partnerships with other Asian countries including China, Japan, South Korea and India, US, Russia, European, African, Middle-Eastern and Latin American countries are continuously pursued.

At the multilateral level, Malaysia is a strong proponent of the United Nations (UN) Charter and the fundamental principles governing interstate relations. These refer to the sovereign and mutual respect for territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs of other nations, peaceful settlement of disputes and peaceful co-existence.

Malaysia’s engagement in other multilateral fora such as APEC, ASEM, OIC, Commonwealth, NAM and other organisations are equally important. These are available platforms to speak on issues of common concerns.

Wisma PutraThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Wisma Putra has been part and parcel of this evolution of the nation’s foreign affairs from the early days of Independence.

The pioneering diplomats of the day had laid a strong foundation in our international relations which over the years has been further fortified in pursuing our foreign policy imperatives.

We hold our former officers in high esteem for their service in raising the stature and prestige of Malaysia in the eyes of the international community just as we acknowledge the dedication and commitment of all those who came after them to the present day.

In today’s digital era, information flow is instantaneous, almost seamless and unstoppable compared to decades ago. With the dramatic transformation of the geo-political landscape over the decades and the emergence of a plethora of new and complex issues, such as those relating to the environment, energy security, war, terrorism, pandemics and other humanitarian crises, food security, climate change, piracy, among others, Wisma Putra has had to face new challenges that require new strategies and approaches and inevitably hiring of officers from an array of disciplines.

Coordination with ministries and agencies

Wisma Putra works closely with all relevant government departments in organising and managing international meetings or visits by foreign leaders and delegations. Similarly, Malaysian missions abroad work with other Malaysian agencies such as MIDA, MATRADE and Tourism Malaysia based in the host country in carrying out their activities. This cohesive platform also contributes to cost-effective promotion of Malaysian interests and conduct of foreign relations.


The entry into force of Asean Charter on December 15 2008 was a turning point for ASEAN, where it transformed itself into a rule-based organisation, with legal personality. This Charter reiterates the common principles and collective commitments of ASEAN in enhancing regional peace, security and prosperity.

The Charter also sets a firm footing for achieving ASEAN Community in 2015, with a dedicated work plan, clear timelines and targets. Initiatives that have been realised include the adoption of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, establishment of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, ASEAN Institute of Peace and Reconciliation, as well as ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre.

As the ASEAN Chair in 2015, Malaysia will play a key role in steering the work of ASEAN towards the establishment of one community and beyond 2015 Vision. Malaysia underlines five key elements as the basis of the Asean post-2015 vision namely:

THE Post-2015 vision should reflect the commonly-held aspirations of the ASEAN people. These include good governance, transparency, higher standards of living, sustainable development, empowerment of women and greater opportunity for all;

THE ASEAN integration process should be brought to a higher level;

THE capacity of ASEAN’s institutions must be strengthened;

THE coordination between the various ASEAN organs must be improved; and,

THE region must be free of internal conflicts which could be achieved by promoting moderation as one of the key ASEAN values.

UN Security Council

Malaysia is currently vying for the one non-permanent seat of the UNNajib@UNGA Security Council (UNSC) allocated to the Asia Pacific Group for the 2015-2016 term. The elections are scheduled in October 2014 in New York. Malaysia’s candidature carries the theme “Peace and Security through Moderation”.

If elected to the UNSC, Malaysia will continue to promote the moderation agenda and mediation approach, and contribute towards the enhancement of UN peacekeeping operations.

Malaysia was the facilitator of the Mindanao Peace Process which led to the signing of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro between the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Oct 15, 2013.

Membership in the UNSC would allow Malaysia to continue promoting mediation as an approach towards peaceful conflict resolution. Malaysia would also be able to share its experience, knowledge and expertise as a mediator in resolving conflicts and disputes peacefully.

Malaysia has participated actively in over 30 UN Peacekeeping Operations since 1960, with deployment of over 29,000 peacekeepers from the Malaysian Armed Forces and Royal Malaysian Police.

In addition, Malaysia, through its Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Centre (MPTC), also provides pre-deployment training courses to many local and international peacekeepers.

Malaysia remains committed to and supportive of comprehensive efforts in reforming the UNSC. Malaysia firmly believes that the reform of the Security Council should take place in a comprehensive manner, both in terms of its working methods and expansion of its membership.

Malaysia has trained over 4,000 participants from 14 post-conflict countries since the establishment of the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP). Membership in the UNSC would allow Malaysia to continue advocating peaceful means in the prevention of conflicts.

Recent achievements in bilateral relations

John+Kerry+Najib+RazakIn 2013 alone, Malaysia achieved significant milestones in terms of intensifying our engagement with key players at the global scene. The recent exchanges of high-level visits with Japan, China, Russia, France, and the US have contributed to further boost our political relations with these countries and augmented bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit. Malaysia has benefited immensely from these engagements, as new commitments were pledged and agreements were inked to create a win-win situation for all.

For instance, relations between Malaysia and China have been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which marked new heights in bilateral relations.

Both countries have also embarked on a Five-Year-Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation for the period of 2013-2017, with the aim of achieving an annual bilateral trade of US$160 billion by the year 2017.

As for Malaysia-Japan relations, both leaders agreed to expand theAbe-Najib enduring Look East Policy (LEP) to be more forward-looking. Thus, a Second Wave of the LEP will now embody a new focus on economic cooperation, particularly on investment, trade, technology, infrastructure, Islamic finance and promotion of the halal industry, in line with our economic transformation policies and priorities.

Even our traditional ties with the United Kingdom have received a recent boost and are currently at its best, driven by close personal relations and shared visions between our Prime Minister and Prime Minister David Cameron. We are immensely proud of the investment by a Malaysian consortium in the Battersea Project, which has breathed new life to the excellent bilateral relations.

Similarly, the recent US$5.1 billion acquisition by PETRONAS of a Canadian energy company — Progress Energy Resources Corporation — has made Malaysia the largest foreign direct investor in Canada. The project involves a US$35 billion plan to develop shale gas assets and build an LNG export terminal in British Columbia.

Ten years ago, who would have thought that Malaysia, a small developing country in Southeast Asia, could be the largest foreign direct investor in a Western developed country like Canada?

As for Malaysia-US relations, following the visit of our Prime Minister to the US in September 2013, both countries are exploring cooperation in strategic areas such as science and technology, information technology, and biotechnology.

Last year also saw several exchanges of visits between Russia and Malaysia at the ministerial level, including my official visit to the Russian Federation last July, which opened a new chapter in our bilateral relations. Russia, as one of the Permanent Members of the UNSC, has also given positive indication to Malaysia’s bid as the non-permanent member for the 2015-2016 term.

 Promoting moderation

 Testament to Malaysia’s success in its endeavour to promote GMM at the international level is the acceptance of the initiative by NAM, CHOGM, ASEM, D8 and OIC in their respective outcome documents.

Most significantly, moderation has been endorsed and accepted by ASEAN as a key ASEAN value. France has even expressed its hope that Malaysia could be the spokesperson on moderation at the UNSC, since Malaysia is vying for the UNSC Non-Permanent seat.

Malaysia will continue to propagate moderation as a useful tool in foreign policy, especially in dealing with conflicts. We believe that moderation can be practiced at the national level, it can direct regional policy and at the international level, moderation can guide our approach to the current global challenges.

The success of the approach was evident from Malaysia’s contribution as an honest broker in the peace process and national reconciliation of our neighbours in southern Philippines and southern Thailand.

Malaysia believes in a just, balanced and consistent approach in addressing the many issues affecting the regional and international community such as the Rohingya issue, situation in the Korean Peninsula, conflict in Syria, political turbulence in Egypt and the Palestinian cause. To this end, we steadfastly advocate a peaceful solution to end these crises through dialogue and negotiations.

At the national level, the moderation concept must also be practised by Malaysians in order to preserve unity and to avoid acts that would strain the diversity that is celebrated in Malaysia.

The special attribute of Malaysia as a microcosm of multiracial and multi-religious society means Malaysians should not lose sight of the importance of practising moderation at home. We need to end violence by rejecting extremism and instead, choosing mutual respect and inclusiveness, and strengthening the bonds between our different communities and faiths.

The Palestinian cause

Najid and AbbasFor more than four decades, Malaysia has been one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinian cause at the bilateral, regional and international levels. Malaysia also supported Palestine’s bid to become a Non-Member Observer State of the UN on November 29, 2012.

We have been consistent in providing various forms of assistance to Palestine and its people, both in cash and in kind, bilaterally or via multilateral platforms such as the UN and the OIC.

Last year, Malaysia pledged a one-off contribution amounting to US$250,000 to UNRWA on top of our annual contribution of US$25,000 for the period of 2012-2017. Reflective of Malaysia’s long standing commitment and support for Palestine, Najib made the inaugural humanitarian visit to Gaza, Palestine on Jan 22, 2013. During the visit, Malaysia pledged to contribute US$6.5 million to finance the construction of four infrastructure projects namely a vocational school, a mosque, an office building as well as new wing at a children’s hospital.

Malaysia’s role in the international community

Malaysia has a role to play in contributing towards the well-being of the general society, especially of its neighbours as a responsible member of the international community. Wisma Putra has been quick and forthcoming in responding to the needs of countries faced with humanitarian crises and natural calamities.

We have contributed through the deployment of search and rescue teams, medical aid assistance, as well as contribution in kind and monetary terms, to help alleviate the pain and suffering during times of crisis.

The most recent was Malaysia’s humanitarian assistance to the Philippines, following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, where Malaysia contributed basic necessities such as food and water, as well as financial, logistical, and medical assistance to the victims.

 Service and assistance to Malaysians

The function of Wisma Putra is by no means limited to diplomacy. The ministry’s consular service, or known as “citizen service” has often received the limelight in the media since it directly touches people’s lives and welfare.

With the increasing number of Malaysians travelling abroad and foreign expatriates making Malaysia their temporary home, consular achievement has now become one of the benchmarks to evaluate the effectiveness of our foreign service delivery system.

In dealing with consular crises, the ministry has been providing assistance to Malaysians abroad who are in need of help within limits of local and international law as well as assistance related to death, detention and distressed and missing Malaysians overseas.

Malaysia’s future direction in the international arena

Malaysia will continue to play an active role in the international arena in the coming years, especially through its chairmanship of ASEAN in 2015 and its bid for the non-permanent seat of the UNSC for the 2015-2016 term.

On Malaysia’s upcoming chairmanship of ASEAN, the year 2015 is particularly significant for the regional organisation, since it is the year the ASEAN Community is to be realised.

During its chairmanship of ASEAN, Malaysia wishes to see further strengthening of rules and norms to govern inter-state relations in the region, progress in the resolution of the South China Sea issue, as well as greater utilisation of ASEAN-led mechanisms and instruments related to peace and security such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia and the Asean Regional Forum (ARF).

Obama and NajibMalaysia is poised to project its prominent role in international diplomacy in 2014 when the country is scheduled to host several important world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and French President Francois Hollande. Such high-level visits are a clear endorsement of the importance of forging close bilateral ties with Malaysia and the Najib administration.

This year Malaysia and China are gearing up to celebrate our 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Both countries have agreed to adopt the theme “Malaysia and China Year of Friendly Exchanges”, which aptly reflects the direction in which both countries would collaborate further.

 Malaysia’s voice

Wisma Putra is entrusted to develop policy that is current, relevant and in step with evolving and changing political environments across the globe and present a clear and effective position in facing the exigencies in the region and farther afield.

The Unnecessary Road to Kajang

February 21, 2014

The Unnecessary Road to Kajang

by Dato Ahmad Mustapha Hassan(02-20-14)


Ahmad Mustapha HassanA lot is being said about the Kajang by-election. The event had taken the people by surprise. There was no necessity for one to be held. It only creates further insecurity among the people and projects a bizarre scenario. Not only will public money be wasted but time, energy and productive work will also have to be sacrificed.

PKR may have a national agenda in doing this but it is most unfair to subject the people and the country to such wastage. PKR, as I had written earlier, is poorly managed and has become a thorn to the stability of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

The other leaders in component parties PAS and DAP must have sanctioned what had occurred but it is doubtful whether they had done so out of sincerity. Whether these two component parties like it or not, their standing is also affected. How is it possible for leaders in these two component parties to associate themselves with such waste, especially when it affects the welfare of the people?

From the look of it, these two parties were never involved in great detail about this move. Sanction was given more from after the fact, to keep the semblance of unity in the pack.

Pakatan must show that it practised democracy. It should and mustAzmin-Khalid demonstrate that it believes in true democracy in all its form, structure, content, words and deeds. PKR might act as the leader of the pack but the other component parties must advise PKR as to the suitability and the logic of forcing this by-election.

It may solve the problems faced by PKR but it may hurt the future of the coalition. To the people, this is an act to solve the internal squabbles in the party but causing inconveniences to the people of Kajang.

Critics have been blaming UMNO Baru for being inconsiderate to all its partners but the very same culture seems to permeate Pakatan with PKR doing the unimaginable just to save its future.

In the first place, were there any complaints that PKR’s Lee Chin Cheh had neglected the constituency he was representing? If there was none, it was really “patriotic” of him to resign and pave the way for a by-election. But blind party “patriotism” is not a virtue.

Lee Chin Cheh 02mDid he realise that he had completely let down his constituents by doing so? He could never be trusted by his voters and his political career has come to an end.He sacrificed for the sake of his own party but that sacrifice meant nothing to his voters. To his voters, he had simply sacrificed their trust.

According to Rafizi Ramli, PKR’s strategic director, the move is to thwart any attempt by the UMNO Baru-BN government to snatch Selangor through a declaration of emergency status as in the case of Kelantan in 1977.

The Kelantan government at that time was facing internal party problems and squabbles that had affected the administration of the state. But in the case of Selangor, only PKR was having party problems and the other two partners in the coalition were free from any internal dissension. The reasoning therefore does not hold water.

UMNO at that time was also trying to boot PAS out of BN and the NAJIB_RAZAK_091213_TMINAJJUA_05_540_360_100incidents in Kelantan gave them that opportunity.It is neither opportune now nor easy for the UMNO Baru-BN government to resort to such actions as in the case of Kelantan before. Time does not permit UMNO Baru-BN to act in such manner.

The backlash from this episode will definitely harm Pakatan. Party problems should be resolved through the party machinery and not through the mechanism of a by-election.

The road to Putrajaya is not through Selangor but through enlightening the rural voters about the evils of UMNO Baru-BN government. Pakatan needs to reduce the number of constituencies that had supported UMNO Baru in the last general election. The total number that backed UMNO Baru is 88. These constituencies have been the backbone of UMNO Baru, and Pakatan has to concentrate and act positively in these constituencies.

Pakatan should remember the Malay saying:“Apa yang dikejar tak dapat, apa yang dikendung berciciran” which literally means to lose what one has in hand and not getting what one was chasing.

The northern people had this about the above and that is:“Balik Pulau, Bayan Lepas, sana terperelau, sini terlepas.”

In other words, Pakatan may not be able to capture Putrajaya and instead may even lose Selangor. The electorate will exercise caution and will be wary of voting for PKR candidates.

My diagnosis may be wrong but the symptoms are there.

Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is a former press secretary to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the writer of the book, “The Unmaking of Malaysia”.

China, India and Indonesia–Building Trust Amidst Hostility

February 21, 2014

east-west-center-asia-pacific-bulletinNumber 249 | February 18, 2014


China, India and Indonesia–Building Trust Amidst Hostility

By Vibhanshu Shekher     

Amidst the prevailing atmospherics of aggression, hostility and uncertainty, rising powers of the Indo-Pacific are also making efforts towards building trust and exhibiting their willingness to come to terms with each other’s rise. Three such efforts were made in October 2013 by China, India and Indonesia during the high-level visits of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Jakarta, October 3; Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Jakarta, October 10-12; and again by Prime Minister Singh to Beijing, October 22-24. The significance of these visits lies in the introduction of a somewhat calibrated approach towards dealing with each other’s rise, strengthening relations as major powers, and opening up of new channels of communication in their troubled areas of relations. No matter how small these efforts for collaboration are, their significance should not be lost amidst the cacophony of doom and gloom that some reports claim are prevalent throughout the region.

The official statements from these visits offer a glimpse into how these three states are acknowledging the significance of each other in the evolving regional order. Though the United States remains the paramount power in the region, mutual acknowledgement of each other’s interests and stakes between these three second-tier rising powers could create conditions for stability in an otherwise unstable multipolar Indo-Pacific. The visits produced commitments in three major areas of diplomacy: assertion of strategic partnerships including defense cooperation, deepening of cooperation in economic and other softer areas of relations, and introduction of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to diffuse tension. First, while consolidating their relations, these Asian powers laid out road maps for cementing ties, and acknowledged each other’s role and importance in the region. The first signal came from Jakarta where Indonesia and China decided to elevate their bilateral cooperation to the level of a comprehensive strategic partnership. While Beijing acknowledged Jakarta as an emerging market with global and regional influence, the latter characterized their partnership as an epochal moment in the history of their bilateral relations. Defense and security cooperation–specifically in the areas of maritime security, military exercises, defense industry–figured prominently in their joint statement.

India and Indonesia, bereft of any major sore point in their relations in comparison to either Sino-Indian or Sino-Indonesian relations, attempted to add more substance and speed to their otherwise thin and slow-paced strategic partnership. The two countries identified five focus areas to strengthen their bilateral ties: strategic engagement, defense and security cooperation, comprehensive economic partnership, cultural and people-to-people linkages, and cooperation in responding to common challenges. The content of their joint statement highlighted the intent of the two rising powers to go beyond the bilateral context of cooperation towards a pan-Indo-Pacific orientation. Both the Indian Ocean and the G-20 were added as important regional and global agendas for bilateral cooperation.

On the other hand, the Sino-Indian joint statement, entitled “A Vision for Future Development of India-China Strategic and Cooperative Partnership” aimed to project broad-based consensus between the two powers over issues of regional and global concern. The two countries signed nine agreements/Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the two-pronged focus of developing confidence-building measures to address areas of bilateral dispute and deepening cooperation in areas of mutual benefit.

Second, these visits reflected an infusion of substantive economic cooperation into their partnerships and an emphasis on strengthening cooperation in other less contentious areas, such as education and culture. In addition to the signing of a currency swap agreement worth $16 billion, China and Indonesia agreed to implement the commitments of the China-Indonesia Five Year Development Program for Trade and Economic Cooperation to reach a bilateral trade target of $80 billion by 2015. The Chinese leadership tried to allay Indonesian misgivings in the economic sector by agreeing to enhance direct investment in the infrastructure and development sectors and to promote balanced trade. At the 2013 Bali summit of APEC, both China and Indonesia pushed for greater economic integration, better connectivity and greater market access within the region.

India and Indonesia signed six MoUs, which entailed greater collaboration between institutions of the two countries in the areas of health, natural disasters, drug-trafficking, intelligence training, and research. In a similar fashion, the Sino-Indian joint statement focused on linkages in the softer areas of cooperation. They signed an MoU on reviving the ancient Nalanda University and also agreed to celebrate the six decades of the Nehruvian doctrine of Panchsheel–Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence–as a symbol of post-colonial Sino-Indian friendship. The ASEAN Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership initiative figured for the first time as a potential agenda of bilateral economic cooperation. Both India and China are not part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. These agendas of cooperation reflect on decisions of the two countries to widen the audience and stakeholders of their relationship by strengthening people-to-people relations.

Experts on Sino-Indian relations would have found it unpalatable to imagine a few years ago that Myanmar, which has remained a source of Sino-Indian rivalries, would figure as a connecting link in their efforts towards building ties. This welcome trend was evident from the joint statement of India and China that mentioned Myanmar as a likely participant in their celebration of six decades of Panchsheel.

Finally, these visits saw attempts to build confidence over long-standing bilateral disputes by introducing these sensitive issues into the official agenda of negotiation. Major strides came from the most troubled equation of this strategic triangle–Sino-Indian relations. New Delhi and Beijing signed a border defense cooperation agreement that underscored the necessity of maintaining peace along the border through information sharing and laid out elaborate mechanisms for both periodic meetings as well as emergency communications. Moreover, India and China, for the first time, brought trans-border river management into the official agenda of negotiation with the signing of an MoU on strengthening cooperation on trans-border rivers and the Chinese consent for data sharing.

The predominant culture of strategic autonomy in India and Indonesia seems to be dictating their economically beneficial and tension-reducing exercises of cooperation with China. Jakarta as an autonomous actor, once again, holds the key in this new-evolving triangle of relationships. Nevertheless, it is yet to be seen whether these three powers are able to shoulder the responsibility of building a stable regional order or if they will inevitably push the region towards greater instability as their individual power and ambitions grow.

About the Author

Dr. Vibhanshu Shekhar is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi. He was previously a Research Fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi. He can be contacted via email at vibesjnu@gmail.com.

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