Samdech Techo Hun Sen@ The United Nations

October 8, 2015

Remarks by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Cambodia @United Nations Summit on Post 2015 Development Agenda

Over the past two decades, Cambodia has made remarkable transformation, especially in securing full peace, strong political stability, and improved public security with high growth averaging 7.7 per cent in real terms annually. The poverty rate has declined from 53 per cent in 2004 to 16 per cent, enabling Cambodia to reach the MDG targets on poverty reduction and other social sectors ahead of 2015.–Samdech Techo Hun Sen

Hun Sen at UNGA

Today, I have great honour to attend this United Nations Summit on Post-2015 Development Agenda. On the 70th Anniversary of the creation of the United Nations (UN), we now open a new chapter in the humanity’s history book, which is marked by stronger cooperation in global development.

The theme of our summit today highlights our globally shared undertakings and responsibility to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the next 15 years, advancing on the achievements of the Millennium Goals (MDGs) which had jointly adopted 15 years ago.

Over the past two decades, Cambodia has made remarkable transformation, especially in securing full peace, strong political stability, and improved public security with high growth averaging 7.7 per cent in real terms annually. The poverty rate has declined from 53 per cent in 2004 to 16 per cent, enabling Cambodia to reach the MDGs targets on poverty reduction and other social sectors ahead of 2015.

Cambodia is now in transition towards the next stage of development, of becoming a lower middle income country by 2016. In this regard, the Royal Government of Cambodia considers that all the 17 SDGs, which were built on the MDGs, are very relevant in the Cambodian context, especially for strengthening its achievements of the past 15 years. But they are even more important to support Cambodia’s transition into a middle-income country, especially in its early stage. Cambodia will incorporate the “clearance of land mine and unexploded ordinance” as an additional goal to the SDGs to fully reflect the actual situation and the need on the ground

As for the financing of the SDGs, the Royal Government of Cambodia fully endorses the Addis Ababa Accord and Action Agenda for financing for development that focuses on domestic resource mobilisation to meet the needs of development. However, Cambodia would like to request an extension of support to those least developed countries which are successfully graduating to the next stage of development until they can well stand on their own feet and can compete internationally by providing official development assistance (ODA) grants and/or concessional loans to address their basic needs such as infrastructure gaps and human resource development and institutional capacity building.

Forging consensus on the Post-2015 Development Agenda is a major achievement by our global leaders. However, ensuring success of this agenda as we had planned for remains a big challenge for all of us. For this reason, I believe we all should resolve to jointly address:

1. Ensuring the fulfillment of donor commitment to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent if ODA/GNI to developing countries and 0.15-0.2 per cent of ODA/GNI to least developed countries;

2. Further enhancing trade policies and trade facilitation, including the provision of preferential treatment to developing countries, according to the spirit of equitably and efficiently sharing benefits of globalization;

3. Further strengthening stability and promoting diversification of the financial sector, encouraging innovation and tapping the role and dynamism of the private sector to meet the financing needs for realizing the SDGs;

4. Further strengthening country ownership through building partnerships among all development, including bilateral, and multilateral development partners, the private sector and other development actors; and

5. Ensuring policy coherence with transparency and accountability, aligning those policies of bilateral and multilateral development partners with national priorities and SDGs.

I believe that the Post-2015 Development Agenda will become an important instrument to help all countries to adhere to a right development path and ensure that the next generation will live in a harmonious and prosperous society.

In this spirit, while being ready to work with all development partners in a constructive way, Cambodia would like to appeal to all countries and relevant stakeholders to show their political will and commitment by taking required measures to achieve the SDGs. Certainly, the United Nations will have to continue playing an even more crucial role to support member states in implementing this agenda.

Foreign Policy: Obama Deifies American Hegemony

October 3, 2015

Obama Deifies American Hegemony

by Paul Craig Roberts

Obama at UN2015Today (September 28) is the 70th anniversary of the UN. It is not clear how much good the UN has done. Some UN Blue Hemet peacekeeping operations had limited success. But mainly Washington has used the UN for war, such as the Korean War and Washington’s Cold War against the Soviet Union. In our time Washington had UN tanks sent in against Bosnian Serbs during the period that Washington was dismantling Yugoslavia and Serbia and accusing Serbian leaders, who tried to defend the integrity of their country against Washington’s aggression, of “war crimes.”

The UN supported Washington’s sanctions against Iraq that resulted in the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. When asked about it, Clinton’s Secretary of State said, with typical American heartlessness, that the deaths of the children were worth it. In 2006 the UN voted sanctions against Iran for exercising its right as a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty to develop atomic energy. Washington claimed without any evidence that Iran was building a nuclear weapon in violation of the non-proliferation treaty, and this lie was accepted by the UN. Washington’s false claim was repudiated by all 16 US intelligence agencies and by the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors on the ground in Iran, but in the face of the factual evidence the US government and its presstitute media pressed the claim to the point that Russia had to intervene and take the matter out of Washington’s warmonger hands. Russia’s intervention to prevent US military attacks on Iran and Syria resulted in the demonization of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. “Facts?!, Washington don’t need no stinkin’ facts! We got power!” Today at the UN, Obama asserted America’s over-riding power many times: the strongest military in the world, the strongest economy in the world.

The UN has done nothing to stop Washington’s invasions and bombings, illegal under international law, of seven countries or Obama’s overthrow by coup of democratic governments in Honduras and Ukraine, with more in the works.

The UN does provide a forum for countries and populations within countries that are suffering oppression to post complaints — except, of course, for the Palestinians, who, despite the boundaries shown on maps and centuries of habitation by Palestinians, are not even recognized by the UN as a state.

On this 70th anniversary of the UN, I have spent much of the day listening to the various speeches. The most truthful ones were delivered by the presidents of Russia and Iran. The presidents of Russia and Iran refused to accept the Washington-serving reality or Matrix that Obama sought to impose on the world with his speech. Both presidents forcefully challenged the false reality that the propagandistic Western media and its government masters seek to create in order to continue to exercise their hegemony over everyone else.

What about China? China’s president left the fireworks to Putin, but set the stage for Putin by rejecting US claims of hegemony: “The future of the world must be shaped by all countries.” China’s president spoke in veiled terms against Western neoliberal economics and declared that “China’s vote in the UN will always belong to the developing countries.”

In the masterly way of Chinese diplomacy, the President of China spoke in a non-threatening, non-provocative way. His criticisms of the West were indirect. He gave a short speech and was much applauded.

Obama followed second to the President of Brazil, who used her opportunity for PR for Brazil, at least for the most part. Obama gave us the traditional Washington spiel:

The US has worked to prevent a third world war, to promote democracy by overthrowing governments with violence, to respect the dignity and equal worth of all peoples except for the Russians in Ukraine and Muslims in Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan.

Obama declared Washington’s purpose to “prevent bigger countries from imposing their will on smaller ones.” Imposing its will is what Washington has been doing throughout its history and especially under Obama’s regime.

All those refugees over-running Europe? Washington has nothing to do with it. The refugees are the fault of Assad who drops bombs on people. When Assad drops bombs it oppresses people, but when Washington drops bombs it liberates them. Obama justified Washington’s violence as liberation from “dictators,” such as Assad in Syria, who garnered 80% of the vote in the last election, a vote of confidence that Obama never received and never will.

Obama said that it wasn’t Washington that violated Ukraine’s sovereignty with a coup that overthrew a democratically elected government. It was Russia, whose president invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimera and is trying to annex the other breakaway republics, Russian populations who object to the Russophobia of Washington’s puppet government in Ukraine.

Obama said with a straight face that sending 60 percent of the US fleet to bottle up China in the South China Sea was not an act of American aggression but the protection of the free flow of commerce. Obama implied that China was a threat to the free flow of commerce, but, of course, Washington’s real concern is that China is expanding its influence by expanding the free flow of commerce.

The US has worked to prevent a third world war, to promote democracy by overthrowing governments with violence, to respect the dignity and equal worth of all peoples except for the Russians in Ukraine and Muslims in Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan.

Obama declared Washington’s purpose to “prevent bigger countries from imposing their will on smaller ones.” Imposing its will is what Washington has been doing throughout its history and especially under Obama’s regime.

Obama denied that the US and Israel employ violence. This is what Russia and Syria do, asserted Obama with no evidence. Obama said that he had Libya attacked in order to “prevent a massacre,” but, of course, the NATO attack on Libya perpetrated a massacre, an ongoing one. But it was all Gaddafi’s fault. He was going to massacre his own people, so Washington did it for him.

Obama justified all of Washington’s violence against millions of peoples on the grounds that Washington is well-meaning and saving the world from dictators. Obama attempted to cover up Washington’s massive war crimes, crimes that have killed and displaced millions of peoples in seven countries, with feel-good rhetoric about standing up to dictators.

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West was released previously. His latest book is  How America Was Lost.

A Critical Look at Obama’s UN Speech: Diplomacy as Cover for Aggression

by Michael Pollack

Words can be playthings for war criminals, as is the case here. Michael Hudson and Paul Craig Roberts provided excellent context for Obama’s UN appearance (CounterPunch, Sept. 29); my own follow-up textually analyzes the lies and contradictions behind Obama’s splendiferous rhetoric, a display of hypocrisy and cant worthy of Woodrow Wilson in transmogrifying the meaning of democracy—as now, does Obama—to fit an hegemonic foreign policy dedicated to counterrevolutionary ends. In both cases, Russia is the central object of attention, Obama the Wilsonian of US exceptionalism brought up to date, post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan, interventions and multiple covert actions, attempts at regime change, and drone assassination, as well as embargoes, boastfulness of military and economic might, in sum, the exultation and use of force characterizing America’s role in international politics. The speech reeks with premises of a double standard exempting the US from the rule of law.

This is disheartening, but not unexpected, the Bush-Obama continuity in national-security policy, part of the larger pattern from the World War II aftermath forward, reaching an apogee of Reaction, that is, until the next stage of political-ideological consolidation of nascent fascism becomes evident. America has been the leading force in global conflict and disruption, the two areas Obama singles out for special comment in the speech, Ukraine and Syria, both showing its unilateral drive for unrestricted dominance. On the former, a coup in Kiev installed through US effort a Far Right hooliganism disguised as government, and as for the latter, one queries, what gave America the right to consider the Middle East an exclusive zone of control and military penetration? This last has been going on for some time, and interestingly, in all the discussion, planning, and concrete activity to displace Assad, there is no mention of Israel’s possible role in guiding or supporting US policy in this regard—nor, of course, giving reasons for demonizing him. If Assad has gone against his people, evidence of atrocities has thus far been sketchy, and the tenor of the discussion smells like old fish given America’s penchant for strengthening and on occasion installing dictatorial regimes—for what else defines the CIA’s purpose in being?


Let’s look, then, at the speech, the caveat being: words are measured by the record presumably supporting them. In self-congratulatory mode, Obama credits the US since the UN’s founding with “prevent[ing] a third world war—by forging alliances with old adversaries; by supporting the steady emergence of strong democracies accountable to their people instead of a foreign power; and by building an international system that imposes a cost on those who choose conflict over cooperation, an order that recognizes the dignity and equal worth of all people.” As though there had never been a Cold War with the US immune from criticism, beginning with Bretton Woods, then the Marshall Plan, the support of Chiang, Korea, atomic diplomacy, the poisonous cultural atmosphere of McCarthyism—and we’ve barely gotten out of the early 1950s. Each of his boasts is qualified by history, the last, “an order that recognizes the dignity and equal worth of all people,” not even applying to the US itself, where massive surveillance hardly bespeaks respect for the people—nor the saturation bombing, whether in Vietnam or Iraq. And who but America, “choose[s] conflict over cooperation”?

There have been setbacks, to be sure, “but we [he refers to the UN, yet implicitly puts America at the forefront] have pressed forward, slowly, steadily, to make a system of international rules and norms that are better and stronger and more consistent.” In fact, quite the opposite, the US in flagrant violation thereof in shaping international alliance systems and practicing regime change, in the Hemisphere, for starters, but extending worldwide wherever governments give signs of disobedience or ingratitude. America, like Wilson also proclaimed, is the foundation of world order—internationalism then, globalization now. Yet, Obama warns, beware: “the march of human progress never travels in a straight line, that our work is far from complete; that dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world.” The reference, unmistakably, is first to Russia, the center of Obama’s animus, and also, never far behind, China.

Syria becomes the test of America’s beneficence in international politics. The US must never forsake its moral obligation to advance democracy. “Today,” he states, “we see the collapse of strongmen and fragile states breeding conflict, and driving innocent men, women and children across borders on an epic scale. Brutal networks of terror have stepped into the vacuum.” In other words, Assad is to blame for ISIS and the refugee problem, America’s pressures toward regime change in Syria nonexistent. However, Russia and China are not far behind as culprits in defaming (American-sponsored) world order. Older ground rules, e.g., “might makes right” and “strong states must impose their will on weaker ones,” are no longer acceptable: “On this basis, we see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law. We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to this institution’s [UN’s] mission…. In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse.” Actually, despite the straight-line projection from Russia to Assad to bombing innocent children, one senses that Obama is more anti-Assad than anti-ISIS and acts accordingly.

Granted, the world sees “greater polarization,” to which America “is not immune,” but under his leadership Obama charts the path forward (a pardonable braggadocio given what he has to offer): “As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning. I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.” An open admission of US impunity in the violation of international law! To which he adds, “We cannot look backwards,” precisely the phrase he used to explain away his refusal to investigate the Bush administration for possible war crimes—we must go forward, not backwards (he uses it whenever his administration has been caught red-handed in its arrogance of power).

From here we enter Obama’s topsy-turvy world in which he proclaims America’s abidance with international law, renunciation of repression, and commitment to the role and power of ideas. Examples: “Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed.” “I believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed.” “You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas. You can try to control access to information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth.” All noble words, but contradicted at every turn by his and USG’s actions, as when he said above, “unilaterally and by force where necessary.” There is much more to the speech, layers on layers of hypocritical gibberish, but let me stop here with this extended nugget, a renunciation of imperialism, repression, aggression: “Indeed, I believe that in today’s world, the measure of strength is no longer defined by the control of territory. Lasting prosperity does not come solely from the ability to access and extract raw materials.”

He continues: “The strength of nations depends on the success of their people—their knowledge, their innovation, their imagination, their creativity, their drive, their opportunity—and that, in turn, depends upon individual rights and good governance and personal security.” High school spread-eagle oratory at its best—never mind surveillance, mass incarceration, the militarization of state and local police, pressures exerted on the media for abject conformity, a tightening of political discourse, far worse than under McCarthyism, because now internalized by the citizenry, with ethnocentric, xenophobic beliefs and values receiving widespread assent in the political arena, and the self-righteous praise of Exceptionalism conferring license to act as though inhabiting a solipsistic world of grace as launching pad for global pillaging. He concludes the passage: “Internal repression and foreign aggression are both symptoms of the failure to provide this foundation.” Yes, and America has excelled in both.

My New York Times Comment to one of several article on the topic, (Sept. 28), follows:

Obama criticizes Putin, ignoring his own role and that of the US in global interventions, covert actions, and regime change. America does not have clean hands; Obama especially, with his massive surveillance at home, should be the last to criticize either Putin or Assad–his own record of confrontation with Russia and China, his boast that America has the strongest military, his militarization of trade (TPP), his general demeanor, mark him as the most belligerent, officious president in modern memory.

Putin and Xi have a firm grasp of international politics, while Obama is the cowboy/braggart thoroughly at home with the use of force, not to say, drone assassination. To hear him criticize the others is sheer phoniness, as he brings America lower in the world’s estimation.

Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at

China’s Unconventional Diplomacy

September 28, 2015

MY COMMENT: Yes, the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a country isDin Merican7 accepted by all members of the United Nations. It is a cardinal principle embodied in the UN Charter. ASEAN members too must sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia which contains this non-interference clause, and so must its dialogue partners in the ASEAN Regional Forum.

But the world has changed since human rights violations in UN member countries have become common throughout the world where governments fail to protect their citizens; in stead they have committed untold cruelties including genocide against  their own people. Bosnia, Rwanda and  Cambodia  come to mind.

So today, the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is increasingly being talked about  as an alternative to dealing with  rouge regimes. This means that while it is the solemn  duty the State to prevent and halt genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass atrocities, the international community has a role that cannot be blocked by the invocation of sovereignty. Sovereignty no longer exclusively protects States from foreign interference; it is a charge of responsibility where States are accountable for the welfare of their people. This principle is enshrined in Article 1 of the Genocide Convention and embodied in the principle of “sovereignty as responsibility” and in the concept of R2P.

Of course, the present situation in Malaysia where the Malays in red shirts are given a free hand to threaten Malaysian Chinese  does warrant intervention from the international community under R2P.

I see no harm for an Ambassador to express his concern on behalf of his government  or in his personal capacity over ultra Malay extremism against the Chinese community which has been doing business in the Petaling Street area of Kuala Lumpur for generations. It is, in fact, is shameful that the MCA, Gerakan and Chinese business tycoons did not react but are complicit in this UMNO sponsored madness.

Ambassador Dato Ignatius is overreacting to Ambassador Huang’s comments. ‘The Chinese Ambassador, a seasoned diplomat, was a guest at the Moon Cake Festival function by businessmen and shopkeepers in Petaling Street. He was merely reminding the Najib Administration of the need to exercise caution and prudence.  Despite the unfortunate MH370 tragedy, Malaysia and China enjoys close and harmonious trade and investment relations for more than 30 years since Tun Abdul Razak established diplomatic relations with that country in 1974.

Wisma Putra is correct to reverse its decision to summon Ambassador Huang to protest ” his unwarranted interference in our domestic affairs”. Let us not make a mountain out of a molehill and allow our emotions to get the better of us.–Din Merican

China’s Unconventional Diplomacy

by Dato’ Dennis Ignatius

COMMENT Wisma Putra is right to summon Ambassador Huang Huikang of China to protest his unwarranted interference in our domestic affairs. Huang’s symbolically-charged visit to Petaling Street, in the heart of Chinatown, and his insensitive remarks, broke a long-standing taboo in Malaysia-China relations.

Today’s report that the acting Foreign Minister has reversed the decision to summon the Ambassador is utterly disgraceful and shows just how weak and indecisive the Najib Abdul Razak administration is. The signal it sends is that Malaysia can be pushed around without consequences. It is yet another shameless abrogation by the government of its responsibilities.

Contentious bilateral issues

In the arduous negotiations leading to the normalisation of bilateral relations in 1974, the most contentious issues involved China’s policy towards overseas Chinese, as they were then called.

China had always considered Chinese living abroad as overseas citizens with special rights and obligations. It was not the loyalty of Malaysian Chinese that was in question but China’s insistence in demanding their allegiance. The other issue was China’s support for the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). Radio Suara Revolusi Malaya, the Voice of the Malayan People’s Revolution, was based in China.

It was only after these two contentious issues were satisfactorily resolved – with China agreeing to fully respect the sovereignty and independence of Malaysia – that full normalisation of relations could proceed and, subsequently, blossom.

Viewed against this historical background, Ambassador Huang’s visit to Petaling Street on the eve of another red shirt rally was an unprecedented breach of a solemn undertaking.

An unwarranted intrusion

His statement that China would “not sit idly by” over any “infringement on China’s national interests, violations of legal rights and interests of Chinese citizens and businesses which may damage the friendly relationship between China and the host country” was particularly astonishing.

What legitimate Chinese national interest was at stake in the Petaling Street issue? Which legal rights of Chinese citizens were violated by the proposed red shirt rally? How do tense race relations in Malaysia impinge on friendly relations with China, unless, of course, China still considers itself the overlord of all ethnic Chinese, whatever their citizenship?

No question that the behaviour of people like Jamal Yunos and Ali Tinju was utterly disgraceful. And shame on Prime Minster Najib Abdu Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi for not acting decisively against the red shirts and discharging their constitutional responsibility to protect and defend Malaysian citizens, irrespective of their ethnic background.

If only Najib or Zahid had taken a page from the Ambassador’s playbook and gone to Petaling Street to reassure the people there, perhaps it might not have come to this.

Nevertheless, none of the above justifies Ambassador Huang’s intervention. Besides, he should know that the struggle that is unfolding in Malaysia today is not about race – as the red-shirts want it to be – but about good governance, an end to endemic corruption and building a strong, united and democratic nation.

Huang’ visit, with all its racial connotations was, therefore, as unwelcome as it was unhelpful. I hope he has now noted the overwhelming rejection by Malaysian Chinese themselves of any involvement by Beijing in our domestic politics. It should underline the fact that China has absolutely no role to play in the evolution of our political system.

A dangerous precedent

China’s interference also carries with it the danger that others might feel similarly tempted to get involved in Malaysia’s evolving political situation. Imagine the Saudi Ambassador threatening unspecified consequences if hudud is rejected. Or the Indian ambassador mediating between the perpetually warring MIC factions. Or the Indonesian ambassador insisting that any criticism of Najib or Zahid, both of whom are of Indonesian origin, might negatively impact bilateral relations.

Unfortunately, some UMNO leaders themselves have set the precedent by claiming that a wealthy Arab ruler essentially paid Najib millions of dollars for “his anti-Jewish stance”. Is our foreign policy now for sale to the highest bidder? Are policies initiated to serve the national interest or merely to enrich a select few? If that doesn’t compromise our independence, what does?

Pressure tactics

More ominously, given the way China’s bureaucracy works, Ambassador Huang’s actions would almost certainly have been cleared at the highest levels of government in Beijing and might well signal a more assertive strategy towards Malaysia.

Could China now be trying to exploit Malaysia’s internal difficulties to advance its own interests? It is no secret, for example, that China has been unhappy with the Najib administration’s close military cooperation with the United States as well as the government’s support for the highly controversial American-inspired Trans-Pacific trade deal.

Seen from this perspective, China might well be warning Najib against too close a relationship with the US. Whatever it is, the threat about “not sitting idly by” is reminiscent of the kind of language that Beijing has used in the past to warn recalcitrant governments of tough action unless it gets its way.

To now hear a Chinese Ambassador use those words against Malaysia is nothing short of outrageous. It is cheap swagger, a crude bully attempt and completely unacceptable.

I suppose this is what happens when we have a weak, scandal-plagued government whose policies have divided the nation, weakened our economy, undermined our resilience and rendered us vulnerable to external interference.Wisma Putra’s backtracking on the summons just proves this point.

Is Wisma Putra up to the challenge?

I certainly hope Wisma Putra is fully awake to the challenges that China poses and is up to the task of managing relations with such an increasingly assertive neighbour. A prompt review of our relations with China would certainly be appropriate now. In the meantime, Ambassador Huang’s unacceptable behaviour requires a firm response: Wisma Putra, if it truly concerned about protecting our national interests, should request his prompt removal.

DENNIS IGNATIUS was a career foreign service officer who served in London, Beijing, Washington, Santiago, Buenos Aires and Ottawa. He retired as High Commissioner to Canada in 2008.

Malaysia: Prime Minister Najib’s Address at the UNGA, New York

September 27, 2015

COMMENT:  How can a scandal-ridden and corrupt Prime Minister who openly supportsdinat UC and sponsors the Red Shirt nationalism which purportedly was intended to redeem Malay dignity and pride be credible.

I like you to decide what you make out of this Address which he made some time ago. In my opinion, he sounds hollow when he does not practise what he says at home. Our Prime Minister assumes that the rest of the world does not know what is happening in our country.

Moderation? That is out of the question. He says and I quote:“Malaysia stands ready to share its experience; of marginalising extremism; maintaining a multi-religious country, where different faiths coexist and prosper; and showing that Islam can not only succeed, but drive progress and development in a pluralistic society.”

And this one beats them all when he told the world body that “Individuals and ethnic and religious groups need to feel they have a stake in a nation’s success, not its failure. So we should commit to more inclusive politics. This is difficult work; it demands pragmatism and compromise. And it must come from within.” It has to be voted in as the statement of the year from our Prime Minister. We must congratulate Foreign Minister  Dato’ Seri Anifah Aman, and his team in Wisma Putra including our Mission in New York, and our Embassy for its eloquence.

All said, I suppose, I must forgive our Prime Minister for he knows not what he is saying and doing.–Din Merican

Malaysia: Prime Minister Najib’s Address at the UNGA, New York (in 2014?)

Malaysia's Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak addresses the 65th General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 27, 2010. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand

PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand-AFP

Mr. President,

I would like to begin by congratulating you on your election. Your wisdom and experience will stand you in good stead as you guide the General Assembly.

I would like to pay tribute to the health workers who are fighting Ebola in West Africa. Malaysia was able to contribute more than 20 million rubber gloves to help the doctors and nurses who are working to stop the outbreak. Our prayers are with them.

I also wish to thank all those who came to Malaysia’s aid in this difficult year.. MH370 and MH17 were tragedies that will stay with us forever. As we mourn the loss of life, we take heart from the compassion shown by our friends. Your support will not be forgotten.

 We thank our friends and allies who give their time and their resources to help find MH370. Men and women continue to risk their lives searching the deepest oceans. We owe them our gratitude, and our commitment: we will not give up the search. We are also grateful to our international partners who are working together to investigate the loss of MH17. Malaysia will continue to seek justice for those who died.

We urge all parties to continue co-operating with the investigation. We hope also that these twin tragedies change the global aviation system for the better, and that nations unite behind new standards on aircraft tracking and overflying conflict zones.

Four years ago, I stood before you and called for a global movement of the moderates, to counter extremism. Last year, I spoke of the conflict between Sunni and Shia that is tearing the Muslim world apart.  Now these two forces – violent extremism and religious intolerance – have joined hands beneath a black flag. Two countries fractured by war face a new threat: a self-declared Islamic State. Its victims are Sunni and Shia, Yazidi and Kurd; any who will not bow before the sword.

This so-called state, torn from existing nations with violence, rules by violence. Its authority is  maintained by forced conversions and public executions. Its militants have destroyed lives and communities. They have destabilised fragile nations, and threatened regional security. Yet their dark ambition stretches further still.

They challenge the very notion of the state. They call our youth with the siren song of illegitimate jihad. And they demand all Muslims swear allegiance to their so-called caliph.That demand will never be met. We reject this so-called Islamic State. We reject this state defined by extremism. And we condemn the violence being committed in the name of Islam.

Around the world, Muslims have watched in despair as our religion – a religion of peace – has been used to justify atrocities. We have turned away in horror at the crucifixions and the beheadings. We have mourned the sons who have been stolen, and the daughters sold.

 We know that the threat to world peace and security is not Islam, but extremism: intolerant, violent and militant extremism. The actions of these militants are beyond conscience and belief. They violate the teachings of Islam, the example set by the Prophet Mohammed, and the principles of Islamic law.

As we speak, some Syrians and Iraqis are being forced to abandon their faith. Yet the Quran states that ‘there shall be no compulsion in religion’ (2:256). They are being forced from their homes, forced to convert to Islam. Yet the Quran says ‘to you your religion, and to me my religion’ (109:6). And if they do not comply, they face death. Yet the protection of life is a fundamental precept of Islamic law; and the killing of civilians, even in war, is prohibited in Islam.

The question is: how should we respond? In the past, when the world has mobilised to fight extremists, we have launched wars without planning for peace. We have attacked one evil only to see a greater evil emerge.

This time must be different. This time, we must defeat not just the extremists, but also their ideas. We must confront the heresy of a state conceived by ungodly men and enforced through violence. In its place, we must advance the true Islam: the Islam founded on the principles of peace, tolerance and respect, as set out in the Quran, sunnah and hadith.

There are key things we must do.First, security and statehood must be returned to the people of Syria and Iraq. Malaysia co-sponsored Resolution 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters to strengthen our commitment to galvanise international action to combat terrorism. We call on the international community to stop the flow of money and recruits to extremist groups. And we continue to offer humanitarian assistance under the ambit of the United Nations or internationally recognised bodies to those who are displaced by fighting. Attacks on militant targets should, at all cost, avoid collateral damage.

Second, we must pursue a different kind of politics. The emergence of these militants is a symptom of political failure; of poor governance in fragile states, and the conflict that still rages between Sunni and Shia.We must break the cycle where one group gains power only to wield it against the other. Where marginalisation leads to radicalisation, as people lose confidence in the state’s ability to provide both security and co-existence.

Individuals and ethnic and religious groups need to feel they have a stake in a nation’s success, not its failure. So we should commit to more inclusive politics. This is difficult work; it demands pragmatism and compromise. And it must come from within.

Malaysia stands ready to share its experience; of marginalising extremism; maintaining a multi-religious country, where different faiths coexist and prosper; and showing that Islam can not only succeed, but drive progress and development in a pluralistic society.

Like all nations, we have had our growing pains. Stability is never permanent; it must be actively maintained. But in Malaysia there are streets in which mosques, temples and churches stand side-by-side. Ours is a society in which religions may differ, but do so in peace; in the knowledge that we are all citizens of one nation.

We believe this moderate approach can make a valuable contribution to fragile states and international affairs alike. It is a philosophy we have used when acting as an honest broker in peace processes in the Southern Philippines and elsewhere; and a principle we will pursue as we chair ASEAN next year, when it forms a 600-million strong ASEAN Community, with greater political-security, economic and socio-cultural integration.

In coming weeks, Malaysia will work with all interested partners to move the moderation agenda forward at the UN. This work informs our bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the coming term.

The moderation agenda involves us all. The fight against extremism is not about Christians versus Muslims, or Muslims versus Jews, but moderates versus extremists of all religions. We therefore need to rally a coalition of moderates; those willing to reclaim their religion, and pursue the path to peace.

And so I reiterate my call to the leading figures in all the great religious traditions: let us join together to ensure that religion is the source of healing and blessing, rather than conflict and destruction. In this respect, I welcome Pope Francis’ visit to Palestine and his efforts to bring moderate Palestinians and Israelis together to pray for peace.

By demonstrating moderation in the political process, we can ensure no-one is left outside society. By practicing moderation in religion, we can marginalise the extremists. And by committing to moderation here at the United Nations, we can show that the world is willing to fight extremism not just with short-term military operations, but with long-term plans.

The security response by the international community, and a commitment to more inclusive politics by affected countries, will remove two of the conditions that allow extremism to take hold. But to defeat the extremists, we must also undermine their authority – and erode their appeal.

We must confront their propaganda. We must defeat the message that seduces the young into acts of violence. And we must address any legitimate grievances that drive people to extremism, be they political or economic. In short, we must win the hearts and minds of those who would serve the so-called caliph.

This is the work of a generation. To begin, we should focus on the real world conditions that allow disillusion to grow. That means building sustainable economies that bring opportunity for our young people – and addressing legitimate concerns that drive radicalisation.

Malaysia, like so many countries around the world, was appalled by the brutal violence against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. We strongly condemn Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks on Gaza, and its continuing violations of international and human rights laws. The use of heavy weapons in civilian areas – the obliteration of houses, mosques and schools – was an affront to common decency. We condemn it not just for the innocent lives taken but for the message it sends: that religions cannot coexist, and that the international community cannot enforce international law and protect the rights of Palestinians.

Their plight is one of the most effective rallying calls for those who claim the international system is broken. So let us unite to find a peaceful, just and lasting outcome that brings dignity and security to the people of Palestine. This should be predicated on a two state solution based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. This will bring dignity and security to the people of Palestine, who have suffered so much, and allow us to redouble our efforts to bring peace to other parts of the world where conflict fuels extremism.

We must also understand why these militants succeed in drawing people to their cause.The extremists call upon Muslims to pledge allegiance to their self-proclaimed caliphates in Syria and Iraq; in Nigeria and Somalia; and in Kenya and Libya. They reach out to a people in search of a state. That some answer this call is testament to our failure. We have failed to uphold a vision of moderate and inclusive Islamic development, and to tackle isolation in our own communities.

The fight against the extremists must be won not just in Syria and Iraq, but in Britain, Belgium, the US – and Malaysia. We have managed to prevent extremism from gaining a foothold in our country. Yet even a few Malaysians have been lured by foreign terrorist fighters that led them to Iraq and Syria.

Countries must educate, include and when necessary confront those at risk of radicalisation. Our religious leaders must continue to show that faith and society are best aligned under a just rule of law. And we must continue making the case that the moderate path is the righteous path – the path Allah set out for us when he said ‘we have made you into a community that is moderate, justly balanced’ (2:143).

We must confront the myth that committing atrocities in the name of an Islamic State is an act of faith; that death in the service of that aim brings martyrdom. The extremists use this distorted narrative as a recruitment tool. To counter this deception, Muslims should work together to promote a greater understanding of what a true Islamic state means.

An international conference of scholars of Islamic law, convened by my government to define the true meaning of an Islamic state, agreed that for a state to be called ‘Islamic’, it must deliver economic, political and social justice; and it must protect and further the six objectives of Islamic law: the right to life, religion, family, property, dignity, and intellect – the same universal rights enshrined in the UN declaration of human rights.

The so-called Islamic state in Syria and Iraq – and the methods used to declare it – has violated every single one of these objectives. It is therefore neither Islamic, nor a state. Individuals, religious leaders and nations have said and must continue to say so, and to advocate for Islamic principles within a framework of tolerance, understanding and peace.

This, after all, is the true nature of Islam; a religion of peace, one that values coexistence, and mutual comprehension, and learning – even in times of struggle. When 70 prisoners of war were captured during the battle of Badr, for example, the Prophet Muhammad was urged to slay them. Not only did the Prophet protect the lives of innocent civilians, he also spared enemy combatants.

It is this spirit of understanding and compassion that we should continue to embrace, and espouse.. Now is the time to advance a vision of peace and moderation. Let us call for a global community of understanding. Let us prove that we can honour the words of the Prophet, and build balanced and just societies, where different faiths live and prosper in peace.

Let us show that Muslims, united in faith, can be a powerful force for progress, knowledge, and justice – as we were in the greatest periods of our history. As we can be today. And as we will be tomorrow.

Cambodia: New Challenges Ahead

September 26, 2015

Cambodia: New Challenges Ahead

by  David Van

Both individuals (PM Hun Sen and Mr. Sam Rainsy) should be commended for embracing the Culture of Dialogue and their attempts to build bridge between their feuding parties to bring about more civilized interaction. Nonetheless, several hiccups have occurred as both sides are still learning to adjust to this new culture of refraining from using certain language.–David Van

Hun Sen with Sam Rainsy

Samdech Hun Sen’s Politics of Engagement by Dialogue

Two solid years after Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed in an hours-long speech at the inaugural first Cabinet Meeting to lead a “Reform Mandate” (2013-2018), the momentum has subsided and the balloon has deflated. The New Normal has ceded place to the Old Normal.

Reflecting back to leadership quality and challenges described in books published by two leading authors and global economic strategists Dean Williams and Ronal Heifetz, effective leadership does not come easy for everyone.

Effective leadership is not forcing people to push through change neither imposing change through fear and intimidation but trying to persuade and bring people around a common denominator and way of thinking to provoke change.

Prime Minister Hun Sen seemed to encounter strong undercurrents internally from party veterans who are reluctant to embrace change so critical to ensure a continued grip on power come 2018 General Elections. Reforms initiated by only a handful of ministries produced limited visible effects with the majority of ministries standing idle without any accountability.

Minority Leader Sam Rainsy has had difficulty in ensuring cohesive party discipline with some members recently stoking the dangerous flame of nationalism through provocative statements and unproductive actions about border maps instead of acting more comprehensively as a Shadow Government and proposing concrete alternative policies.

Cambodia_BannerAngkor Wat–A Tourist Magnet

Both individuals should be commended for embracing the Culture of Dialogue and their attempts to build bridge between their feuding parties to bring about more civilized interacton. Nonetheless, several hiccups have occurred as both sides are still learning to adjust to this new culture of refraining from using certain language.

Still, both sides remain stuck in merely politicking with each other while the economy seems stuck in a quagmire of “catching up” strategy while Cambodia’s ranking in Ease of Doing Business by the World Bank remains at the bottom.

Cambodia Vietnam Rwanda
2009 135 92 143
2015 135 78 46

Source: World Bank

The issue of ease of doing business has assumed new relevance with the release earlier this month of the Cambodia Industrial Development Plan by the government, which is designed to develop new high-value added industries, promote small and medium enterprises, increase agricultural production and encourage support industries to support agriculture, tourism and the garment sector. 

The economy remains highly dependent on a narrow base of garment and footwear manufacturing, which rose 11 percent year-on-year according to the Asian Development Bank, down from 14.5 percent a year earlier as global demand has continued to sag. Tourist arrivals, another major income source, also decreased to 4.6 percent from 5.2 percent a year earlier. However, the garment industry faces increased competition arising from the appreciation of the US dollar, and from other low-wage competitors including Myanmar, which is just getting into the game.

While ADB data indicate that domestic demand is holding up, there is a pressing need to diversify the economy away from low-wage sources, which can quickly disappear as soon as multinationals discover a country that pays less to its workers. Can Cambodia think boldly enough to leapfrog?

The societal fabric of Cambodia has strong diversity in many different groupings of people gathering around a same pattern of mindset, biases, beliefs and educational background, including linguistic acquisition through years of overseas education.

Our leaders should tap into this diversity to consolidate various views and experiences as well as intellect to contribute to our society and policy making wider consultation.

As demographic change brought about an ever growing number of young in the electorate only care for better jobs and living standards which only a constantly improving economy can provide, the next electoral battle topic could shift to these simple but crucial bread and butter themes.

David Van is a member of CAMPRONET (a platform of Cambodian Professionals from all backgrounds)

Obama’s Discredited Malaysian Golf Buddy–Najib Razak

September 18, 2015

Obama’s Discredited Malaysian Golf Buddy–Najib Razak

by John

Today, Najib has become almost an international pariah, bogged down in two massive Zimbabwean-level scandals – one over the disappearance of billions of dollars from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund and another over how nearly US$700 million ended up in his personal accounts at AmBank in Kuala Lumpur, then disappeared out again to unnamed accounts overseas without explanation.–John Berthelsen

U.S. President Barack REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

U.S. President Barack Obama and Malaysia’s Najib Razak in Hawaii on December 24, 2014 REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

When Barack Obama’s administration began planning the US president’s November trip to Asia to attend various summits and deal with a number of important issues including the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in the Philippines and the annual ASEAN summit in Malaysia, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was a favorite of Obama’s, a White House visitor and January golfing partner.

Today, Najib has become almost an international pariah, bogged down in two massive Zimbabwean-level scandals – one over the disappearance of billions of dollars from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund and another over how nearly US$700 million ended up in his personal accounts at AmBank in Kuala Lumpur, then disappeared out again to unnamed accounts overseas without explanation.

More bad news

Najib’s international reputation was severely tarnished again this week with a report on the Al Jazeera news network raising questions anew over the notorious 2006 murder of Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu. The program, which got Australian journalist Mary Ann Jolley kicked out of the country as she was reporting it, tied text messages by convicted murderer Sirul Azhar Umar, currently held in Australia, to the prime minister’s office. Sirul appeared to be asking for a bribe to shut up and was reported as saying “I won’t bring down the Prime Minister.”

That leaves Obama with a problem. At all of the meetings he will have during his November trip, his former golfing partner will be a conspicuous presence.

The US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, in an email, said only that the White House has not announced a visit by President Obama to Malaysia.

“I know for sure that Washington is concerned right now about what John R. Malottto do or how to handle Najib and the November trip. Since the infamous golf game, so many things have happened, and as a US government official you would have to be living on another planet – or an alternate universe – not to know what is going on in Malaysia today, and the truth about Najib,” said John Malott, who served as Ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 1998 and who has become one of the prime minister’s loudest international critics.

“So my sense is yes, there has been a major shift in Washington thinking about Najib. And their number one concern now is how to handle the November visit. They need to protect Obama. At the end of the day, Washington, as always, has two goals – foreign policy, how to advance American interests abroad (in ASEAN), and two, domestic – how to protect the president politically from any criticism here at home.”

The attitude of the administration in Washington towards Najib – at least to this point – is puzzling, and misguided. While he has cut a polished figure on the international stage, with impeccably tailored suits and a cultured English accent, the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has been warning about Najib since at least the 22-month trial of the two convicted murderers of Altantuya, which ended in 2009.

Then-Ambassador James Keith and his staff sent detailed cables to the State Department in Washington – obtained by WikiLeaks in 2011 and reported by Asia Sentinel – that indicated the embassy staff was closely following the trial of the killers and frequently discussed whether Najib was connected to the killing.

The diplomats, like much of the public, also speculated that the trial was being deliberately delayed and feared what one diplomatic cable calls “prosecutorial misconduct” that was being politically manipulated. The embassy officials based their concerns on sources within the prosecution, government and political opposition.

US Ambassador (Designate) to Malaysia Paul W. Jones

 Former US Ambassador to Malaysia Dato’ (?)Paul W. Jones

Ambassador Paul Jones, who followed Keith, praised Najib, however, and was so enthusiastic about the country that he was given a “datukship,” a low-level honorific in the country’s convoluted system of quasi-royalty. That is technically a violation of the US Constitution, which prohibits such awards from foreign governments. A steadily rising diplomat, Jones emphasized strengthening ties between the two countries. He played Sherpa to the visits of both Secretary of State Former FHilary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Malaysia. He has continued his rise through the ranks of the State Department bureaucracy, now serving as principal deputy assistant secretary.


Thus the warnings of Keith, Malott and the current ambassador, Joseph Yun, apparently fell on the deaf ears of Obama, who believed Najib, who has frequently spoken in Washington and at the UN as the head of a moderate Muslim nation, was a great reformer.

It has become clear that he isn’t and wasn’t, in extensive and unmissable stories in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, the US’s most respected newspapers, about the extensive and hugely expensive property holdings Najib’s family has in California and New York, and the stories about 1MDB.

In the latest, the Wall Street Journal pointed out just a week ago on Sept. 8 that while 1MDB’s financial statements and the Malaysian auditor general reported that a collateral payment had been made to an Abu Dhabi investment fund, the Abu Dhabi government never got the money.

Problem leader

This all presents Obama with the dilemma of how to back away from a man he embraced as a friend, one whose country he needs badly to accomplish American goals in the South China Sea, including one of the linchpins of the Obama presidency, his so-called pivot to Asia to counteract Chinese influence.

“The question is – how can they distance themselves from Najib personally, while still achieving their goals in November?,” Malott said.

Najib leaves on September 23 to return to the world stage, first on a trip to London where he is said to be seeking arms deals at the London Arms Fair. Hishammuddin Hussein, his cousin and Defense Minister, is already there, accompanied by defense officials and having rented 30 rooms at the Churchill Hyatt Hotel for his entourage. Najib is expected to nip off quietly, leaving a nation in crisis. After his turn at the UN, he is scheduled to go to Italy, where his wife, Rosmah Mansor, is staging an Islamic fashion show in Milan.

Najib has tried indefatigably to reverse the bad blood with western nations generated by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He is expected to appear in New York on September 25 for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. The reception he gets, especially from US diplomats, will tell a lot about what happens in November.

John Kerry

In August, US Secretary of State John Kerry obviously held his nose and upgraded Malaysia’s status on human trafficking, to the astonishment of many human rights organizations. The upgrade was widely considered the price the US had to pay for Malaysia’s cooperation on TPP and other issues.

But even since August, the publicity over corruption and the 2006 murder has spread wider. It will be interesting to see if the US will hold its nose again during the Asia trip. “Better send Kerry instead,” said a Malaysian observer.