Malaysia: Playing a Dangerous Game with China

February 19, 2016

Malaysia: Playing a Dangerous Game with China

by Ambassador Dennis Ignatius

What is China up to with this base-Put a stop to this now

UMNO is playing a dangerous game, one that could seriously destabilize our nation, undermine our sovereignty and render us vulnerable to foreign manipulation and control.–Dennis Ignatius

It was reported recently that Chinese coast guard vessels have yet again intruded into Malaysian waters near Gugusam Beting Patinggi Ali (also known as Luconia Shoals), 84 nautical miles off the coast of Sarawak. Local deep-sea fishermen were reportedly avoiding the area after being chased off by Chinese vessels.

The Chief Minister of Sarawak was so concerned about these intrusions that he felt compelled to raise the matter with the Minister of Defence, Hishammuddin Hussein.

A recurring pattern of intrusions

This is not the first time that Chinese naval vessels have intruded into our territorial waters. In August last year, Shahidan Kassim, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department with responsibility for the coast guard–what does this UMNO character from Perlis know about maritime issues?– told the press that Chinese coast guard vessels have been intruding into our waters on an almost weekly basis over the previous two years. He added that Wisma Putra had, in response, fired off a series of protest notes to China.

There were numerous other incidents as well, including one in October last year, prompting concern by both the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. Only the most naïve would believe that such intrusions are, therefore, anything but regular, persistent and clearly intentional, part of a wider strategy by China to aggressively enforce its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Najib’s National Security Advisor

Indeed, China has been spending billions developing its coast guard, creating a blue-water navy and building permanent naval and air stations in the Spratly and Paracel Islands from which to extend its reach and strengthen its maritime claims over much of the South China Sea.

Latest reports indicate that China has even installed surface-to-air missiles on some of these bases. The more powerful it becomes, the more aggressively it asserts its claims, prompting growing regional and international consternation.

Other countries seem to have woken up to the real dangers, and the growing potential for conflict, China’s actions present to the region. Malaysia’s leaders, however, appear to be hopelessly lost somewhere between fantasy and denial with regards to China’s intentions.

A craven response

Recall his handling of Lahad Datu?–Sheer Incompetence

Nothing epitomizes this more than the reaction of our Defence Minister in response to the latest Chinese intrusions. Instead of giving the matter the serious attention that it deserves, he vacillated and dithered, claiming to want more information about China’s intentions and then denying that any intrusions took place.

And instead of coordinating a more robust response, he naively offered to help arrange a meeting between the Chinese Ambassador and the Chief Minister! Since when do state governments deal with foreign powers over issues of national sovereignty and territorial integrity?

Both the Defence Minister and  Chinese Ambassador are now playing down the whole issue, insisting that the matter can “easily be sorted out.”Well, why then has it taken them so long to do so?

Surely all that is needed to settle the matter is for the Chinese Ambassador to apologise for the intrusions and issue a clear and unequivocal pledge that his country would respect our sovereignty and cease trespassing into our waters.

Is the Ambassador prepared to do that or is he going to duck the issue altogether by giving us yet another spiel about the “special relationship” between our two countries?

Our Defence Minister, on his part, is also being entirely disingenuous in asking his critics whether we should go to war with China over the issue. Of course, no one in his right mind would want to see the issue lead to open hostilities but that doesn’t mean that we have no other options.

Maritime claims are about establishing and maintaining a strong physical presence in the area and exercising the rights of ownership as much as anything else. This is what China is doing and we need an appropriate response.

China vociferously protests any infringement of its sovereignty, no reason why we can’t do the same. Chinese naval vessels aggressively patrol the waters it claims, no reason why we can’t use some of those expensive submarines, ships and planes we have paid billions to acquire to do the same. Other countries are taking proactive measures to counter China’s maritime claims; we should be doing the same.

It’s not about going to war; it’s about putting up a spirited defence of our territorial integrity through active diplomacy and a strong naval presence.

What is completely unacceptable, however, is the kind of craven response that we are now seeing in the face of such a sustained challenge to our territorial integrity.

Time to get real

Since Tun Razak’s inaugural visit to China in 1974, we have premised our relationship with China on the assumption that if we treat China with “mutual respect”, China will reciprocate and together we can build a peaceful and prosperous region.

On our part, we have dutifully paid our dues – becoming the first ASEAN country to establish diplomatic relations with China, giving China the benefit of the doubt over its support for the Malayan Communist Party and regularly paying obeisance with glowing speeches about the “special” relationship. As well, we put aside our doubts and opened our market, even in strategic areas, to Chinese investments.

All it appears to have done is to convince China that we are an easy mark. The closer we draw to China politically and economically, the more vulnerable we have become to Chinese pressure. The more we celebrate our “special” relationship, the more they take us for granted.

It’s time to get real and see China for what it is – a major partner in regional prosperity but a seriously destabilizing force as well – and structure our national policies in such a way as to maximize the former and minimize the latter.

Strengthen defence ties with our allies.

To this end, we need to work more closely with Vietnam and the Philippines, the two ASEAN countries most affected by China’s ambitions in the South China Sea, to forge a stronger consensus within ASEAN on the issue.

For too long we have deluded ourselves into thinking that we are safe from China’s territorial ambitions because of our “special relationship.” We are wrong and we need to face reality.

Secondly, we need to move quickly to strengthen our defence ties with like-minded ASEAN countries, and with the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea, all of whom have a vested interest in ensuring that maritime claims are settled peacefully through bilateral and multilateral negotiations.

We must go beyond mere expressions of concern at international meetings, as Prime Minister Najib is wont to do, and show some real resolve in facing up to the challenge.

President Obama is presently knocking on our doors with his “pivot to Asia” doctrine, so the timing couldn’t be better.

The China card – a dangerous game

Above all else, UMNO itself must be clear about where the national interests lie.When they look to a country like China to rescue them from the deadly fallout of the 1MDB scandal, they give China extraordinary influence in our national affairs.

And now, they appear to have taken this one step further with the dangerous precedent being set of the Chinese ambassador not only attending, as a special guest, the Defense Minister’s Chinese New Year open house in his constituency in Johor but, according to news reports, handing out financial assistance to Chinese schools in the minister’s district, something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

It certainly looks like the Chinese ambassador is being co-opted by the minister to advance his domestic political agenda. No doubt the Chinese ambassador must be happily humming to himself that old Louis Armstrong tune, “What a wonderful world.”

Is this the beginning of a new partnership between UMNO and China to help keep UMNO in power? Has China, like Singapore, come to the conclusion that its interests are best served by a weak, unpopular and scandal-plagued government in Putrajaya?

After all, if the Saudis can give Najib RM2.6 billion to help him win the last elections, as it is claimed, why should it be unthinkable for UMNO to accept China’s assistance to help secure the ethnic Chinese vote and undermine the opposition in the next elections?

Could this be the reason why our Defence Minister–not a competent at that– seems to be bending over backwards to excuse China’s frequent intrusions into our waters instead of standing up for our sovereignty and territorial integrity?

If so, UMNO is playing a dangerous game, one that could seriously destabilize our nation, undermine our sovereignty and render us vulnerable to foreign manipulation and control.

Dennis Ignatius is a 36-year veteran of the Malaysian Foreign Service and has served in London, Beijing and Washington besides serving as High Commissioner for Malaysia to Canada from 2001 to June 2008.

46 thoughts on “Malaysia: Playing a Dangerous Game with China

  1. Najib’s foreign policy is based on learning towards the US via TPPA (economic containment of China) and selling 1MDB assets to cash rich China (building special relations for his political survival). Sadly, he cannot focus since he is fighting to stay in power and will do anything to remain as Prime Minister. He will end up being caught in this big power rivalry.–Din Merican.

  2. “Malaysia, Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”. Perhaps that’s the nature of the special relationship China has in mind for us, no? Quite a nice ring to it – After all, we have some experience with one country, two systems. One system for UMNO, one system for everyone else.

    Malaysiakini commenters have been lambasting Hishammuddin Hussein as a “postman”, fit only to be a courier shuttling between the Chinese ambassador and the Sarawak Chief Minister.

  3. The people of Taiwan recently elected Tsai Ing-Wen to become their President and rejected Ma Ying-Jeou — because the latter was drawing Taiwan too close into an economic relationship with mainland China.

    Perhaps it is best for small nations like Malaysia to be “Titoist” in our
    foreign policy?

  4. Malaysia should transfer the disputed islands to 1MDB and then let China buy the islands from 1MDB. Easy money and no need for defence assets to be deployed. 2HO can keep his position as Defence Minister and once in a while take a pleasure ride in KD Tun Razak to view the coral reefs. Talk about national sovergnity and maruah negara. All have a price. All it needs is a few Chinese gunboats and the RMN will turn around and head for port.
    Wonder when will Malaysia make a stand and exert its rights to the disputed islands. No use crying the islands belong to Malaysia if you don’t intend to make a stand and defend your territorial rights. No pain no gain. Remember the tiny rock outcrop that Malaysia lost to Singapore, maybe a repeat is in the works.

  5. We do not need foreign powers to make us look like idiots in our own territory. Our prime minister and his band of cronies are already treating us like idiots openly and brazenly. The sad thing is we happily allow them to do so.

    At this rate, it doesn’t matter if the British, Americans or Chinese or even the Filipinos or Myanmarese rule over Malaysia. They are all better than the people who currently run the entire country’s government, its institutions and machinery, most of whom are docile and willingly let their own abuse them, so long as their own continue to stay in power.

  6. South China Sea may be a name bestowed on the waterway probably by European powers in the early colonisation period. It seems to imply to some, that it belongs to China, at least nominally.

    China has no history of grabbing other people’s lands in a true sense like the European powers – Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English and Belgian – did across the world in the past and even now in some parts of the African continent. The US occupied Philippines, Haiti, Porto Rico and several more in the past and has annexed Hawaii and Guam as heir own although the two Islands are miles way off from the US.

    China’s disputes with other countries are usually centered around lands it commonly shares with them like with India over disputed territory along the Himalayan border. In the 1962 war with India it captured huge chunks of land in Ladakh and Arunachala Pradesh. With Indians beaten it could have advanced in even further. But it stopped short and pulled back troops having taken back the lands it considered its. In 1978 it went into Vietnam (again sharing a common border with) mounting tactical assault in response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia and after “teaching a lesson” to the Vietnamese, it pulled back its troops after the Vietnamese withdrew.

    The South China sea dispute should be amicably settled between China and the littoral states concerned. All parties are pitching in claims because there are immense resources to be extracted from under the sea. China should show some magnanimity because the sea not only washes its shores it also washes the shores of the littoral states.

  7. China has already said persistently it guarantees ” free sea and air passage ” and any area under dispute on the territorial claims should be resolved peacefully and rationally among the claimants bilaterally or multi-laterally, without interference and provocation from third parties, unless ASEAN leaders would allowed themselves to turn their countries into another Iraq, Libya or Syria. Ultimately the people here will suffer like those refugees currently on the ” rampage” swamping the Euro-zone.

    South China Sea used to be hotbed of rampant piracy. It is now stable and safe.
    The presence of China’s civil-defense facilities have largely contributed significantly to the environment . They are there to protect its interests and those using the open passage. Most claimant-countries there have station some form of civil-defence mechanism in place.

    The unreported or under- reported question is , are the alleged intrusions also under dispute ? Regardless, there is no violent conflict but plenty of dialogue and communication between the parties concerned….and this is a good sign leading to peaceful resolution beneficial to both and the region, despite what the writer has postulated.

    China has already made its stand very clear in resolving the disputes . What is bothering us, there is lacking in clarity on where we and each and other ASEAN members stand .

  8. Might is Right. It is hypocritical to imagine otherwise.

    This has been true from the dawn of human history to the school yard to interactions between nations, to interplanetary encounters.

    One long-past US President said that the US’s foreign policy should be one of speaking softly and carry a big stick.

    The present Chinese regime has taken this literally to heart, ironically.

    What we are seeing in the words and actions of the tripartite players, the US, China and South & East Asia, are reminiscent of the stories from the semi-historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”

    There is nothing “romantic” in it, just some good old fashioned multi-lateral back-stabbing with intermittent violent conflict thrown in for pace setting the story-telling.

    So Malaysia’s overt and covert “romancing” of both the apparently tired and weary US and the recently woken Chinese dragon will end with Malaysia being “jilted” by one side or the other, or probably both. No triangular love affair even ended well.

  9. Heheh.., good One semper! We should call that ‘Scorpene Sting Pivot’.

    For the other commentators who see a benign PRC and insist on being unpaid apologists to that Commie regime, you might as well yodel in Himalaya Tibet, Altai-Pamirs and the Gobi-Taklamakan, ‘cuz you obviously have no idea about China’s Imperial history and turmoil. Syok Sendiri is the sure sign of advanced Alzheimer’s or other forms of Reality Impaired Idealization (aka Psychosis).

    PRC is trying to do a Caribbean-ization of the East Filipino Sea, copying what USA did in the 1800’s, you see? Bolehland just happens to be part of their geostrategic lessor. Btw, Blue water capability of PRC Navy is meanwhile stuck at green-water.

    And for those who cannot understand what the Geo-strategic ‘Pivot’ term means, go here:
    Terribly outdated stuff.

    As for UNCLOS, go here:
    Current stuff.

    USofA is not a signatory of UNCLOS. Why? So where the heck is the ‘drone’ super-orbiting X-37B, OTV-4, right now? Izzit over the Spratlys, N.Korea or what? Future is stuffed.

  10. Forget UMN/BN especially Najib. Truth is if we want to look for hope in this problem, Singapore is where we should look and it does not look good. Singapore’s answer is to militarily align with US but at the same time build leverage by being key player in an important foreign issue such as Taiwan. LKY believed the real only hope is to convince China they live in a multi-polar world and persuade them abide by rules and norms and this is already settled. LKY believed China will stumble and then Singapore can make their diplomatic credit count. In the meantime, all they can do is contain the belligerent giant.
    Let us hope that Southeast Asia will not be embroiled in another big power contest for hegemony in Asia. The combination of Taiwan, South Korea and Japan with the United States will not keep China in check. The building of a military base in the Spratly Islands is a matter of concern, although China says it is for self-defense. China is testing how it can go at the same time testing the US and its allies in Asia. The decision by the ICJ on its dispute with The Philippines is being eagerly awaited.–Din Merican

  11. There is really no partnership between UMNO and China. China is simply taking political advantage in geopolitics. Malaysia is a deadbeat prostitute, run by thieves without patriotism. UMNO being a corrupt organization, is not interested nor capable to outplay nor even chase Chinese boats out of its waters. The political balance of using the USA no longer will work when the Chinese have now secured strategic power assets, and are now moving the investments into Malaysia to gain and entrench ground support. The former Ambassador is about five years behind, the Chinese are here for good. They are already controlling a sizeable part of the Malaysian economy, and can damage the ringgit whenever they want to. The truth is the Malays have lost their country. The local Malaysian chinese could care less because they think they will be treated better when the takeover comes – and that is why the donation to suppose to do – remind them that the goodies are coming. But the economic takeover has already occurred!!! The boats and their presence is merely a manifestation of their desire to show to the US that, TPPA or not, it really doesnt matter anymore!

  12. When you speak to (PRC) Chinese policymakers, the mindset that comes across I think is very clear. They generally do not consider small countries equal to China. To them, China is a Great Power, and the rightful big brother of the East Asian region. While they might not covet outright control of territories (apart from the Chinese claim to the entire South China Sea via the “Nine-Dash Line”, which is printed on PRC passports), I believe what China seeks is a reestablishment of the tributory system that existed before the Europeans came to the region. That means the neighbouring Asian countries formally recognise Chinese superiority in the region and pay periodic obeisance to Beijing.

    Whatever one’s views about the appropriateness of this type of arrangement in East Asia, I am extremely doubtful countries like Vietnam or the Philippines or South Korea or even Singapore are ready to accept it as it means accepting a position of inferiority. Even many Taiwanese are rejecting becoming too dependent on China, and they are overwhelmingly ethnic Chinese. China won’t win friends if it continues to throw its weight around. Right or wrong, other Asian countries do have choices. China is not the only Great Power operating in the region.

  13. “The boats and their presence is merely a manifestation of their desire to show to the US that, TPPA or not, it really doesnt matter anymore!”

    This is the PRC aspect of the equation.

    The other aspect is the eventual class clash in the Malay polity , made worse by the influence and agitations of the Constitutional created Malays, “foreigners” and of course Islamic malcontents harbouring delusions of Greater Caliphate expansion.

    In any other functional democracy, JibRos would have been excreted but the craphole of UMNO Baru politics is clogged .

  14. Quote:- “The truth is the Malays have lost their country”

    The Malays know that. It’s just that, being easily confused, they are not too sure lost to what “Chinese”

    Perhaps many, (read UMNO Malays), still harbor the politically correct and comfortable preference that it is to the Chinese called “Ah Chong”, and not “Chin Peng’s Chinese”

  15. Din,
    Should ICJ make a decision where Philippines case was presented unilaterally?

    You have to ask China to answer that question since I cannot read the mind of the Chinese authorities. –Din Merican

  16. In 50years we are going to face 3 superpowers instead of two with the coming of age of India.If I am the leader of ASEAN I would be better off making a new military alliance consisting ASEAN and the rest of East Asian countries excluding China.With more than 800millions people along with the technological prowess of Japan ,Korea and Taiwan,etc,I would have a better chance in facing these superpowers and give them a run for their money.

  17. Veritas hit the nail absolutely on the head!

    Not so long ago, an old acquaintance who’s a high ranking CCP headman (i.e dep governor) of a southern province asked yours truly, what would be the general Overseas Chinese (hai-wai huaren) reaction to their policy on Nansha. I told him that it will be negative if it came to belligerent action, because that will have economic repercussions and resurgence of ultra-nationalistic fervor from the autochthonous (native) population. The Americans will just get confused for quite a while and rattle their sabres.. Brinkmanship has it’s dangers and they not to underestimate Vietnam or Japan.

    Patience and Lai si (ang pau, for the uninitiated). To reduce the tensions, perhaps they should give some kickbacks in the form of economic-fiduciary incentives and invest in pokkai strategic assets? That has come to pass over here.. And 2HO is just among the first ‘hero’ to do the needful. Bunga Mas and a coupla pygmy orang utans coming up next.

    A negative ICJ may make PRC lose face-water, but it’s the internal politics that is more important for Han Ubermensch superiority. Now that is sound geopolitical advice. No?

    Does anyOne want to comment about kinetic missiles from USN’s most recent hyperware and their LCS warships equipped with magnetic railguns? Wimps.

  18. Dear Kllau,

    It is not the ICJ that is involved in the maritime arbitration case. It is an arbitration case, not an adjudication one. The dispute was brought before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) by the Philippines because China doesn’t recognise compulsory arbitration under the ICJ, and all parties need to agree to submit to the ICJ for a case to proceed.

    The PCA is a different entity from the ICJ, though both are based in the Hague. The parties to a maritime dispute under UNCLOS do not all have to assent to PCA arbitration for the arbitration to go ahead so long as they are parties to the convention, and the dispute is not strictly about sovereignty.

    Of course, the PCA commands neither armies nor fleets, and hence it cannot “force” any state to accept its rulings. But a ruling that the Chinese “Nine-Dash Line” claim over the (almost entire) South China Sea has little merit under international law would be a defeat for the PRC. If China were to continue to press its claims despite the lack of legal support, it will then be doing so mostly on the principle that might is right, and it will put a lie to the grandiose claim that China is a different type of great power.

    A short legal analysis of the case in the Harvard International Law Journal is available here

    The full case notes of the PCA case are available here
    Thanks Veritas,for this clarification. China is attempting to be regional hegemon. All hegemons are the same. It is naive to assume that China is going to be benign power. –Din Merican

  19. You feel losing something only if you first feel attached to it and what is attached is drifting away. Malaysians attachment to nationhood is very weak; Malay Malaysians’ attachment to nationhood might be even weaker compared to other Malaysians. Our former deputy prime minister proudly proclaimed he is Malay and Muslim first, before he is a Malaysian. For people like the former deputy prime minister and current Defense Minister, as long as there is no threat to Malay’s way of life and Islamic way of life, nationhood and territorial integrity are of little meaning. The only way to make nation sovereignty matters for these people is to repackage it as a caliphate, but that causes many other problems.

  20. It’s a repeat of the Malacca saga. The Chinese admiral came first to trade, then he brought with him a Chinese Princess and accompanying China Dolls. Got the Princess married to the Sultan and the China dolls to the palace officials. The rest is history and until now Malacca is without a Sultan. I find this rather amusing and top it off with “tak Melayu Hilang di dunia ” buzzword.

    What does the Bugis warrior have to say now?

  21. Big powers careless if you love them or not. They want you to respect them, thru fear if necessary. You can ally with anyone you want. How much guarantee your allies will come to your aid in case of war? I agree with Dato Din that “the combination of Taiwan, S. Korea & Japan with the US will not keep China in check.” No one can alter China’s determination to control SCS to safeguard their lifeline of oil supply, to breakthru the 1st Islands Chain to become a blue-waters navy, and to bring ROC (Taiwan) to the negotiating table for reunification without having to go to war. The Pentagon estimated it would take at least 25 air wings (1 aw=75 war planes) to defend Taiwan if war broke out now. If China controlls the SCS, Taiwan is indefensible. In his recent book Dangerous Allies, the former Australian PM, Malcolm Fraser advises his country to stay out of the SCS dispute, pointing out the so-called freedom of navigation is American freedom to challenge China militarily. This from US close ally.

  22. Combination of US,Japan,Korea and Taiwan may not be sufficient to subdue and hold on to China but sufficient to contain China in SCS if it has to come to that.In modern time its hard to hold on to a country if the people of the country continue to resist the conquerer.You may win the battles but its hard to subdue the people if they are tenacious enough as shown by the Vietnamese,Afghans and Iraqis.Vietnam especially had been examplary in this respect by its ability to resist the Chinese Empires,The Mongol hordes under Kublai Khan,the French,the Americans and finally the PRC IN 1978.So dont ever asume its going to be a walkover especially when you are defending your country except we need a different Defence Minister,one that would not sugget a teh tarik sessions with the enemy after the had invaded us.

  23. The fundamental Chinese foreign policy boils down to….. from the “Sick Man of Asia” to the “Healthiest and Mightiest Man in the World”

    It’s just “Ketuanan Cina” on a global scale.

    All the right ingredients for a WW3 are coming together.

    30 years ago I told a friend who has just given birth to a baby boy that I don’t see how WW3 could be avoided in our lifetime. That came out too fast and it scared the hell out of her.

  24. Din,

    I thought China had already responded. The world media controlled by the West could have or might have abitually under reported it or completely ignored it’s significance for public viewing.

    Nevertheless, China would want to answer the question raised here,once again.

    Notwithstanding, throughout history, China had never practised colonialism, even during Zhang He’ era of greatest global naval power. Instead, it had been brutally occupied, in parts ,large and small, by all major world powers that included Japan, Great Britain, USA, France, Portugal and Germany.

    Except for a brief skirmishes with India and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, over border disputes,there were no arm conflicts since. It is also noteworthy during the border conflicts with its neighbors, China troops had advanced but withdrew to just behind the line it considered as the common border.

    Besides having to provide jobs and social network to put food on the table for its 1.4 billion people, China on record ,by nature, history and culture had shown neither to be aggressive nor having territorial ambitions. That is China’s trending policy conduct, rising as a world engaging power in recent times and will likely do so in the future, in pursuing sustain peace and stability, growth and prosperity, regionally and globally.
    China will be a regional hegemon. It is going to be like other hegemons.–Din Merican.

  25. I agree with Dato Din and CLF’s reading into current situation. Malaysia as it stands will suffer, no matter how shrewdly it attempts to play its diplomatic game. It is internal weakness within Malaysia which allows both hegemons to take advantage of Malaysia. Our nation must learn from Siam. With it, it must have a functioning political structure.

    Malaysians must stay together as one. Alas, but that we know is a mere wet dream. Call me pessimistic, but I still fear what Mozi said about signs of a failed state still holds true for Malaysia.
    I am glad you mentioned Siam not Thailand. Thailand today is a political mess under a military regime.And we are a democratic nightmare under Najib. –Din Merican

  26. @Din and katasayang,

    It is open to questions if China will become a regional(territorial ambitious) hegemon, which we have little or no control. But US is a confirmed global hegemon, so were its Western Allies ,Japan, Great Britain, France and numerous others who presently are or were at one time or another ,not only a regional territorial hegemon, but global colonialisers ..

    At home , the scandalous Umno Baru’ elites are the worst hegemons who can’t even keep to the terms and promises clearly expressed in Malaysia Agreement with the States of Sabah and Sarawak, after being colonialised by Britain, and Japan in recent history.In fact they the Neo- Colonialisers of the people of Malaysia..

    So, who do we lame ?
    Of course, internally, it is the people of Malaysia , because “we let them “.
    In particular, that is why Sabah and Sarawak leaders and the people need to empower themselves, not to to let them— and stand up, be counted for their rights.

    Externally, we need to thread rationally along the scale of the balance in order not fall into the web, often vicous , self-centered and senseless, struggles of the world’s great powers, or ultimately the people will be the painful victims—Kllau.

  27. You trust Japan and ROK over PRC. PRC has not done anything to you yet. But Japan, how they have been able to pull a sheep over the eyes of Southeast Asian Nations they devastated by human rights violation during World War II by just giving a reconditioned ship worth less that US 20 million.

  28. Maybe PRC cheerleaders dislike the term hegemon maybe the tributary system is palatable for some but hopefully not for any right thinking Malaysian.

    American Imperialism was never subtle hence easier to reject on an intellectual and moral level. I can already see the moral and intellectual contortions justifying the hegemonic agenda of the PRC.

    Is it any wonder why race relations are so poisoned in this country.

  29. What’s wrong with this Greek term hegemon? The word merely suggest dominance, nothing derogatory about it. Apple is the hegemon in the computer industry. Lee Chong Wei is the hegemon in Malaysian badminton. And China definately will become a hegemon in Asia. I believe it will be a benevolent one.

  30. @Conrad,

    Neither we nor I are PRC cheerleaders.
    The hegemony discussed referred here is pertaining to territorial dominance.
    The assessments drawn are based China factual conduct historically and in recent times.

    Race got nothing to do with it here. Bringing up and mixing it is a insult to a respectable blog and to the readers. I can assure you ” I am a Malaysian First ” than most of the Umno Baru leaders put together, from the day Malaysia was formed.

    What matters most is the consequence of a nation’s (mis) conduct rather subtlety or contortions or otherwise. USA openly lied to go to war Iraq does not make much difference to the consequence where millions were displaced and hundreds of thousands got killed, leaving behind a divided country and a failed state.

  31. @Conrad,

    Neither we nor I are PRC cheerleaders.
    The hegemony discussed referred here is pertaining to territorial dominance.
    The assessments drawn are based China factual conduct historically and in recent times.

    Race got nothing to do with it here. Bringing up and mixing it is a insult to a respectable blog and to the readers. I can assure you ” I am a Malaysian First ” than most of the Umno Baru put together, from the day Malaysia was formed.

    What matters most is the consequence of a nation’s (mis) conduct rather subtlety or contortions or otherwise. USA openly lied to go to war Iraq does not make much difference to the consequence where millions were displaced and hundreds of thousands got killed, leaving behind a divided country and a failed state.

  32. Kllau,

    “Neither we nor I are PRC cheerleaders.
    The hegemony discussed referred here is pertaining to territorial dominance.
    The assessments drawn are based China factual conduct historically and in recent times.”

    There’s nothing wrong with being a PRC cheerleader if that’s what rocks your boat. You are very right when you say that the hegemony discussed here is about territorial dominance but where we differ are our assessments about China’s role historically and their contemporary political behaviour in the region.

    “Race got nothing to do with it here. Bringing up and mixing it is a insult to a respectable blog and to the readers. I can assure you ” I am a Malaysian First ” than most of the Umno Baru put together, from the day Malaysia was formed.”

    Race has got everything to do with it. We talk about the “Malays” all the time here, so why shouldn’t we talk about the PRC and Malaysian Chinese, especially when many Chinese on this blog and elsewhere talk glowingly about the recent conduct of the PRC normally in relation to the incompetence of UMNO ?

    The insult to this blog is the attempt to silence the issue of race when it becomes inconvenient.

    “What matters most is the consequence of a nation’s (mis) conduct rather subtlety or contortions or otherwise. USA openly lied to go to war Iraq does not make much difference to the consequence where millions were displaced and hundreds of thousands got killed, leaving behind a divided country and a failed state.”

    As I said , American hegemony is not subtle whereas the hegemonic aspirations of China is. Intellectually and morally there is much of America that one can admire and yes the same can be said of China.

    This is not a comparison and frankly I’m a bit concerned with your implication that it is. What is the endgame, that it would preferable to be a vassal to China instead of America ?

  33. Conrad

    Its okay to talk down about the Malays because they dont have 5,000 years of civilization like the Chinese.As Lamoy said even if if China become a hegemon they are going to be benevolent as long as we kowtow to them.Even Lee Kuan Yew had openly stated that the pecking order will be Chinese first,then come the Indian and at the bottom will be the Malays.Its the birthright of Chinese to look down on other people except for the white men.

  34. @ Conrad,

    When ”the issue of race” is brought up inapproriately, it will likely create misunderstanding and complicate the already complicated matter further.

    Malaysia is ”vassal” to the people of the Federation of the State of Malaysia, neither China nor USA, whether the Umno Baru-led government or otherwise.

    We prefer to stand neutral, hopefully speaking in one voice , together with all the other 9 ASEAN states, in advancing the ASEAN objectives and spirit with shared responisbilities and benefits :

    ”to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations, and (2) to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. In 1995, the ASEAN Heads of State and Government re-affirmed that “Cooperative peace and shared prosperity shall be the fundamental goals of ASEAN.”

    ”Fundamental Principles: The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, signed at the First ASEAN Summit on 24 February 1976, declared that in their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties should be guided by the following fundamental principles:
    • Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
    • The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion, or coercion;
    • Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
    • Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
    • Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
    • Effective cooperation among themselves. ”

    ”Political Cooperation: The TAC stated that ASEAN political and security dialogue and cooperation should aim to promote regional peace and stability by enhancing regional resilience. Regional resilience shall be achieved by cooperating in all fields based on the principles of self-confidence, self-reliance, mutual respect, cooperation, and solidarity, which shall constitute the foundation for a strong and viable community of nations in Southeast Asia. ”

  35. Who are argue with the desire for peace among all nations and humans, and that the strong should be “benevolent” towards the weak? Sounds like paradise to me. I am a practical person. In my view, the world we live in is unfortunately not an ideal one. Typically the choices we face in the realm of politics, whether domestic or international, is framed by what compromises we are prepared to make.

    I put to you that it is foolish for small states to depend entirely on the goodwill of big states. China has not historically been an expansionist power, so there is nothing to fear you say. But what great powers today are expansionist anymore? Russia is at this moment bombing rebel-held territory (and people) in Syria, but it claims not one inch of Syrian territory. This is acceptable? At this time, America no longer has a single soldier on Iraqi territory, but this doesn’t excuse its invasion.

    You may or may not be aware of the details of what China claims in the South China Sea. The maritime boundary claimed by China in the South China Sea is known as the “Nine-Dash Line” because Beijing has traditionally demarcated it using nine dashes drawn over a map of the area. You can see for yourself what exactly is claimed in a note submitted by the PRC ambassador to the UN in 2009, link below. It is something like 3/4 of the entire South China Sea, and it runs almost to the beaches of Sabah and Sarawak.

    I for one also do not accept the CCP as a benevolent government. How many tens of millions of Chinese citizens died in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution? It is the exact same political party that rules today in Beijing. It is a party that has no qualms about sending tanks into the streets of Beijing to kill civilian demonstrators. Any person attempting to publicly raise the June 4 incident in China will swiftly earn a one-way ticket to the gulag. You think such a government will have greater qualms when dealing with foreigners?

    There are essentially three choices when dealing with China’s claims. You can accept them, or you can reject them, or you can try to negotiate a settlement. If China refuses to negotiate a compromise settlement, which appears to be its default position, then there are really only two choices.

    None of this means that the USA is necessarily more benevolent. But it most definitely means that small states should not rely on the goodwill of great powers, and hoping for peace is not a plan for maintaining it. Moreover, if anyone really believes that China should be free to do whatever it wants, then you most certainly cannot deny the same option to other states, small or big.

  36. kllau,

    By my insinuations – racial and political – I placed you in a position of defending your “Malaysianess”. This is unacceptable and I should know better. I should not have done this and this style of rhetoric is unwarranted and disingenuous. My apologies.

    Abdul Jalil,

    I get what you’re saying. I think any discussion about the PRC is complicated, made more difficult by the fact that we are all so closely connected.

  37. /// Conrad February 22, 2016 at 7:07 pm
    There’s nothing wrong with being a PRC cheerleader if that’s what rocks your boat. ///

    Conrad, you like to tar everyone who argues on the side of China as PRC cheerleaders. It is not nice because “cheerleader” connotes blind fealty to China, whether it is right or wrong.

  38. “…. “cheerleader” connotes blind fealty to China, whether it is right or wrong.”

    Yes it does.

    I stand by that term.

  39. Conrad,

    Thank you for the healthy exchange of ideas
    and thank you, Din, for providing the space- appreciated.

    We never stop learning from one another and draw a wider benefits of the process

    I wish the Umno Baru leaders or the power-that-be would have learnt the lessons drawn from RM 2.5 billion BMF Loan Loss Scandal -published in The Star on October 15, 1984, under the heading, “BMF: Have we really learnt our lesson?” – See more at:

    in which,
    it was emphatically pointed out : “The US House government operations Committee (Business Times, October 23, 1984) said in its report that bank failures were mainly caused by fraud and criminal activities.”

    It found that “banks did not just fail – they were robbed from the inside”.

    It recommended that strong and decisive action should be taken swiftly against those officials guilty of misconduct in performing their banking duties.
    But this never happened. Till this day, they (the Umno Baru leaders) never had learnt and the BMF RM 2.5 billion Loan Loss Scandal had become the MOTHER of all sacandals that followed:
    -See more at :

    That was the major cause and effect of all the scandals (including the 1 MDB) that followed where Trillion of Ringgit (in today’s value) squandered, ”stolen or robbed” from the people for which had brought the country to this dire state of affairs.

    It is very sad and damaging to the country and the people of Malaysia, who are ultimate victims.

  40. “Conrad, so if I said that teenager is wrong that India will overtake China in a decade, I am labelled a cheerleader for China?”

    Maybe. I would label any adult such for taking exception to what a teenager says on a political blog.

    Ok, The, considering some of the responses here, VERITAS’s for example, my cheerleader jibe was sloppy. For that I withdraw it.

  41. Frankly speaking, I actually agree with @Abdul Jalil on his comment on Chinese in China on how they view Malaysia. China does not care about Malaysia. I am quite sure the same applies for America.

    As a Chinese, as a Malaysian, who owes as much, and actually much more to America, I see no conflicts in making the same point.

    The world is big enough to co-exist together. Nine dashline is a hole the Chinese government could not get itself out now. Obama’s administration is not much different. Yet, they both should back off.

    I have shared this before. A Malaysian statesman, together with the rest of ASEAN leadership, including Cambodian leadership should talk about Seldan Map with existing Chinese government.

    It clearly shows a world without nine dashline, and yet recognizes the trade routes that exist with Quanzhou, China. It is a map not drawn by the Chinese, but yet illustrates a China that plays an important role, in that all cities trade with China, much more than they trade amongst themselves, judged from the trade routes shown. Yet, the map clearly shows a world that didn’t have China as the center of universe during Ming dynasty. If it doesn’t show that in Ming dynasty, how could one expect the same for a Qing dynasty that spent much less in ship building. More so, for a republic of China that could hardly hold itself together. More so, for a Communist China that has been contained for decades. We cherished China’s rise, and finally being able to stand up proudly.
    But, we should remind China’s long history of co-existence with their neighbours.

    For America, we South-East Asians should merely thank them. Yet, at the same time, we should remind America for their ill-intention to use ASEANs and TPPA to contain China. In the long run, America’s involvement in SCS would not be appreciated. For the sake of human history, stop being foolish, Mr President.

  42. you watch as Red Greedy China take our Scarborough Shoal, you watch as they abused Vietnam and Philippines, we asked you to take a solid stand against China, yet you just stay in your dream world, Now it your time, China will get your islands away from you, Vietnam and Philippines will just stare at you, or even Singapore

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