June 6, 2015
Note: Please go this article by Ambassador John Malott and then read his response to commenter SS Nath. He has the right to set the record straight and in keeping the tradition of free debate, I have chosen to give his comments to his adversary some prominence.
His views on Malaysian politics and foreign policy and diplomacy are much sought after in Washington DC and Tokyo, the birthplace of his departed wife, Hiroko Malott and Malaysia. In solidarity with Malaysians who seek to build a free, liberal and democratic society, he continues to monitor and write about our country when the need arises. –Din Merican
READ HERE: https://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/not-good-news-for-najib/
Din, I have hesitated to say anything in response to the over-the-top, and emotional rants by SS Nath. But it is also my personal reputation that he is challenging.
It is impossible to deal with people like Nath. That’s because instead of engaging on the issues (and countering the specific points I made in my op-ed about Obama), they launch personal, ad hominem attacks on the author. It is like the old adage in law school, “if the facts don’t support your case, attack the other guy’s lawyer.”
So when I see people like Nath avoid the real policy issues and instead engage in personal attacks, I tell myself that “I have won.” I actually feel good. People like Nath are incapable of countering, on an intellectual and factual basis, the points others have made.
So keep on attacking me personally, Nath. It means you have lost the argument, and I have won. You are trying to divert attention to me and away from the real issues.
Harry Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” For over 15 years I have spoken out about the lack of democracy and political freedom in Malaysia, the growing racist and religious tensions (and the way the Government panders to Perkasa, ISMA and others to shore up political support), and the political prosecution of Anwar and the opposition. I have done this with my eyes open, knowing that I will be criticized by some Malaysians like SS Nath.
I am ready for this — but I am sorry that “Conrad’ has had to endure Nath’s invective, simply because he disagreed with Nath, whose attitude is “I am always right, and everyone else is an idiot and a fool.” My apologies to you, Conrad — whoever you might be : Bless you )
Nath’s criticisms of me are very similar to those I have heard many times since I started speaking out. First, that as a foreigner and a former diplomat, I have no right to comment on Malaysian affairs. Yet the US Department of State has never once told me in the past 15 years that I have violated the post-employment code of conduct and responsibilities for ex-Ambassadors (a legal document) that I signed. They have never once told me to “cool it” or “knock it off.” It is very common for ex-US Government officials to comment on their areas of expertise; indeed, it is welcomed, because they are seen as being more frank and honest, now that they no longer have to hew the government line.
Nath also is like an UMNO cyber-trooper, those who claim that any criticism of the actions of the Government of the Day is an attack on Malaysia and Malaysians as a whole. Like UMNO’s members, Nath has come to conflate party, government, and country as one and the same. Disagree with what the current UMNO Government is doing, and you are “anti-Malaysia.” Yet the majority of Malaysians voted against the Government in the last election. Are they all anti-Malaysia? If I agree with the majority, am I anti-Malaysia?
When I agree with those Malaysians (like in BERSIH) who want free and fair elections, or those members of the opposition who want an end to the sedition laws and greater freedom of the press, am I anti-Malaysia? When I agree with all the major human rights organizations in the world — and the Government of my own country — that Anwar’s recent conviction was flawed, am I anti-Malaysia or on a “personal” vendetta for my friend Anwar?
The answer is “no.”
When I began to speak out 16 years ago, most Malaysians were hesitant to do so. They were afraid. I had the luxury of living in freedom overseas. But times have changed in Malaysia, and today I know that I stand with the majority of Malaysians — and also with world opinion. It is people like Nath who today are the minority in Malaysia and who are fearful of a political trend that is going against them.
Even though I expect to be criticized, Nath has set a new standard. He has called me words I have never been called before: racist, prejudiced, one dumb individual, filled with deep-rooted hatred, of unsound mind, obsessed to the point of craziness, a liar, an American imperialist, and on a vendatta against Malaysia. Is there anything you forgot? Keep it coming, Nath, because the more you attack me personally and avoid the real issues, the more confident I feel.
Nath, by your refusal to engage on the real issues, you show me that all of us who hope for political and economic freedom in Malaysia — a free press, an independent judiciary — an end to corruption and cronyism — have won. Your emotional diatribe only encourage me. So pour it on, man It means you don’t know what to say.
Finally, I have to give you this, Nath. You got me on one thing. You were correct. My three-year assignment to Malaysia ended in December 1998. My mistake (late at night) was to add 3 years to the year I arrived in Malaysia (1996) — and I came up with 1999. I should have said December 1998. You spent five paragraphs talking about my mistake.
But the mathematical error of an old-aged, late-night memory does not change the point I made. You claimed — and continue to claim — that Mahathir demanded my removal from Malaysia, which is not true. You now admit that you were just a business CEO of some company, so how would you have known 100% what was going on?
I was the Ambassador — and if Mahathir wanted me gone, obviously I would have known. For sure, I am sure that Mahathir thought about it and wanted to Persona Non Grata (PNG) me and send me home more than once, and he probably talked about it with people, but he never did it. He was too smart.
Your claim that I was sent home early is not true. I served my full 3-year tour. You don’t know what you are talking about.You claim that because of my alleged interference and support for Anwar after his arrest, the US Government removed me and sent Lynn Pascoe to replace me.
You are wrong. Here are the facts:
As I said in my original posting, career Ambassadors generally serve for three years. I served my three years, and I left. That is exactly what happened. I did not leave early, and Mahathir did not ask for my removal.
Here is a list of all US Ambassadors to Malaysia since Merdeka. As you will see, I served in Malaysia longer than all US Ambassadors in the past 25 years, except for one.
Second, you claimed that because of my interference in Malaysian politics after Anwar’s arrest, the State Department decided to replace me with Lynn Pascoe. (Or as you put it, “You left Malaysia in shame in December of 1998, and were replaced by Lynn Pascoe, in March 1999.”)
Here are the facts that you are ignoring:
The White House officially announced Lynn Pascoe’s nomination as US Ambassador to Malaysia on September 10, 1998, in keeping with the 3-year cycle.
And as for Anwar’s arrest —
Anwar Ibrahim was arrested after that — on September 20, 1998 — 10 days later. I am sure you can Google it.An inconvenient truth?
If Mahathir kicked me out of Malaysia because I interfered in Malaysia’s politics after Anwar was arrested on September 20, and the White House then decided to replace me with Lynn Pascoe, then why was Lynn Pascoe’s nomination announced almost two weeks before Anwar was arrested?
It is a very clear indication that your great “insider information” just doesn’t wash. My replacement, Lynn Pascoe, had already been decided internally within the State Department months before it was officially announced by the White House. I served my full three years as Ambassador. No one kicked me out or asked me to leave early.
Ambassaor Malott and I
Dear Mr. Nath,
What purpose is served by your rantings about Ambassador John R.Malott. Your comments in general here reflect that you are an intelligent and passionate man. Something must have triggered this hard hitting response to Conrad. Cool it.
Allow me to share with you what I know of Ambassador Malott. When I was Washington DC with my wife Dr Kamsiah in June 2013 to participate in a forum about GE13 at the East-West Center on K Street, N.W., I did some additional background checks on Ambassador Malott. I was trained to do that in the 1960s when I was Foreign Officer and Special Assistant to the then Foreign Ministry supremo, (Tun) Ghazalie Shafie in charge of liaison with British Intelligence, Special Branch and our military Intelligence. That habit stuck with me over decades. It has enabled me to find out about an individual before even I meet him, and know how to engage him.
We stayed in Alexandria, across the Potomac from Washington DC, as his guests. Over 4 days, I had a lot of time to exchange views with, and know him well. I was impressed with his library and his collection of works of art, Chinese blue porcelain and other items.
You can tell a man’s character by the things he displays in his home. He is a man of good taste. He is articulate, insightful, and well educated on the cultures of the East and West. His late wife was Japanese. That is why he was able to operate successfully across cultures.
I found out that he was an outstanding diplomat who was chosen to be in Kuala Lumpur at a time when our bilateral relations were at their lowest point because of Mahathir’s anti- US rhetoric; he did his job well and was highly regarded by his peers at the State Department. At the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, he was a demanding boss and did not suffer fools easily. I am quite sure he had some enemies internally.
As a seasoned diplomat on tour of duty in various countries including Vietnam he knew the rules and nuances of his craft; he could not have deviated from State Department’s position on US-Malaysia relations. His job was to represent his country and not to take sides on the politics of his host country. Because he did his job and did it well, he did not endear himself to our erstwhile dear dictator. It was not his job to please Mahathir; his duty was to ensure that his reports to the State Department were accurate, factual, and timely.
An Ambassador’s dispatches are read by The President, and his National Security Advisor and his staff at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and The Secretary of State at Foggy Bottom.–Din Merican
June 7, 2015
More from Ambassador John R. Malott
Here is what I got today via email from Ambassador John Malott. He did respond to Sakmongkol AK47 aka Dato’ Ariff Sabri, DAP Member. So Mr. Nath, please do not try to mislead my readers and defame the man.
By now, Mr. Nath, you should know that we all have had enough of what you have said on the subject. If you were genuine and sincere, you would have revealed your identity and not hide it. I do not even know if your real name is Nath. I allowed all your comments to go through although I know you sound like a Special Branch person or like the new PR Chief for Najib.–Din Merican
June 7, 2015
Thank you for posting my reply so prominently.
For the record, I DID respond to Sakmongol 47’s two posts about me. On February 12, 2011, the day that he wrote his second post about me, I wrote as follows:
“12 Feb 2011 at 22:09 pm
“I read your posts from time to time, thanks to The Malaysian Insider, and learn from them.
“Ibrahim Ali says I need a psychiatrist, so I guess you have decided to become mine. That is because you think you know what is going on inside my mind and know why I believe and write what I do. But you don’t me at all.
“If you would like to know more about my motivations, then please read the interview that Malaysia Chronicle did with me, called “There once was a dream called Malaysia.”
( https://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/there-once-a-dream-called-malaysia/ )
“I think your readers’ comments said it best. If you disagree with what I wrote, then tell us all what is wrong with it. But I think most people are getting fed up with these kind of responses, that attack the messenger and not the message. I chuckled when I read the DPM’s comment that my views should be ignored because I am not a former President, and he doesn’t know where I live.
“There is a saying in America, when the facts don’t fit your case, attack the other guy’s lawyer. Whenever I see someone attack me personally, I think I have won. It means that the person has no facts or arguments to counter what I said, so they just engage in personal attacks. “
For those who have read what I had to say about SS Nath’s ten-thousand-word rants, attacking me personally and not dealing with the issues I raised, they certainly will recognize that the comment on Sakmongkol AK 47 was from me.
Dato Ariff uses Blogspot software for his blog, and in those days I was the editor of my office’s blog. So Blogspot, for whatever reason back then, refused to let me post my own name. Instead, my comment showed up with “Blogmaster” as my name.
But Dato Ariff seemed to realize that it might be me. Two days later, he wrote a post called “The Issues Malott Raised.” He said, “There was also a commentator who writes under the name ‘blogmaster’ who writes as though he is Mr Malott. This ‘Mr Malott’ asks me to read his interview with Malaysian Chronicle, which I did.”
Times have passed since I wrote my Wall Street Journal article in February 2011. My thoughts were controversial then, but today most Malaysians agree that racial and religious tensions are higher in Malaysia than they have ever been. And most Malaysians agree that the Government, as I said over four years ago, is either standing by and doing nothing, or in some cases even provoking the tensions for its own political purposes.
One of those who has changed his tune is Dato Ariff Sabri himself. He is now a member of the Opposition. And to cite just one of his Sakmongkol posts since he switched sides, he wrote a post called “Racism and Inequality” on November 17, 2013:
“In reality, this government is utterly irresponsible, racist and divisive…This is what Najib (and his government) is doing. Blaming others for his government’s failings and shortcomings serves a self-serving political purpose – blaming others deflects blame that ought to go to them. Blaming others shields those in power. So it must be done even at the expense of civility, inclusiveness and togetherness and moving forward as one nation, one Malaysian race equal before the law.”
So today Sakmongol AK47 and I agree.–John Malott.