Happy Birthday, America: It is the Fourth of July


July 4, 2015

4th of July

It is The Fourth of July for Americans at home and abroad. As a friend of your country and a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington D.C., I ( and my wife Dr. Kamsiah) extend to you our warmest wishes  and congratulations on your country’s birthday.

Once again, thank you for the generosity and consideration you gave me when I was a graduate student Kamsiah and Din4(1968-1970).  During my time at DC some 40+ years  ago–I visited your beautiful city again with my wife in June, 2013 as a guest of former US Ambassodor to Malaysia John R. Mallot–I witnessed you moan the loss of Martin Luther King and Robert Francis Kennedy and agonise over the loss of American lives in Vietnam.

I admired the manner in which you sought to end that bloody and costly war which destabilised South East Asia and brought untold tragedy and genocide to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia where I now live and work at the Techo Sen (Hun Sen) School of Government and International Relations, The University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

The idea of America is best summed up in these words in Latin e pluribus unum–out of many, one.  These words led me to read Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter’s  delightful and educational book, The Idea that is AMERICA: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World.  Maybe by sheer coincidence, I just finished reading it today. Anne-Marie’s book comes to you with my recommendation.

Adlai StevensonStatesman and Presidential Candidate

In the opening of her concluding chapter (pg.215), Anne-Marie quotes my favorite American Statesman, Presidential Candidate and Diplomat, Adlai Stevenson as follows:

When an American says that he loves his country,  he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistenng in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self respect.–Adlai Stevenson

In the opening paragraph of that chapter, Stars to Steer By,  she says in almost Stevensonian fashion, and I quote her: “American patriotism is grounded not only in our love for the values our country stands for–of the idea that is  America, no matter how far short we may fail in practice. It is the idea that knits us together in our vast diversity. It is the idea that our soldiers fought for. It is the idea that all patriotic citizens stand for, even against our own government. And it is an idea that ultimately belongs to all the world’s peoples.”

James Balwin and Msrtin Luther KingJames Baldwin with Dr. King

Grandiose indeed. But inspirational. And yes, the idea is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the United of America. Anne-Marie also quotes my favorite African-American novelist who said: “I love America more than any other country in this world; and, exactly for  this reason. I insist on the right to criticise her perpetually.”(pg.14)

On the occasion of the 239th Anniversary of your freedom from the tyranny of King George III, I have a simple message to the Obama White House, the members of the US Congress and captains of American Industry. Diplomacy is about making friends. Foreign policy is about the pursuit of peace and cooperation and building partnerships founded on mutual respect and trust.

It is time to put an end to the era of regime change initiated by George W. Bush and his neo-conservatives. Make friends, not enemies. The world does not need hegemons, and prophets of war. We need enlightened leaders, not egotists and dictators.

To celebrate the Fourth of July, Dr. Kamsiah and I have to chosen John Denver to entertain us. Mr. Denver,  may God Bless you and thank you for your musical legacy.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican.

Next Steps for U.S.-South Korea Civil Nuclear Cooperation


east-west-center-asia-pacific-bulletinNumber 316 | July 1, 2015

July 2, 2015

ANALYSIS

Next Steps for U.S.-South Korea Civil Nuclear Cooperation

by James E. Platte

On June 15, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se signed a new agreement on civil nuclear cooperation (a so-called “123 Agreement”) between the two countries, and U.S. President Barack Obama submitted the proposed 123 Agreement to the U.S. Congress the next day. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee will have 30 days to review the agreement, and then the whole Congress will have 60 days for review. The proposed 123 Agreement will enter into force unless Congress enacts a joint resolution opposing the agreement, and the South Korean Ministry of Government Legislation also will review the proposed agreement.

The new 123 Agreement comes after several years of difficult negotiations and represents a step forward for bilateral nuclear cooperation, but this does not mark the end of negotiations and debates between Washington and Seoul in the civil nuclear energy field. South Korea and the United States have a long, robust history of civil nuclear cooperation, going back to the Atoms for Peace program and the initial 123 Agreement in 1956. Since then, the United States has played an integral role in the development of South Korea’s civil nuclear industry, which now comprises 24 operational reactors that generate about 30 percent of South Korea’s electricity.

South Korea has become virtually self-sufficient in nuclear reactor design, construction, and operation but still relies on U.S. firms for some nuclear fuel and engineering services. In addition, South Korea and the United States cooperate on numerous bilateral and multilateral nuclear research and development projects. All of this cooperation is facilitated by the 123 Agreement. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 requires that a 123 Agreement be in place for the United States to cooperate with international partners on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Given the importance of nuclear power to the South Korean economy, maintaining civil nuclear cooperation with the United States is vital for Seoul. Yet, negotiations on the new agreement were difficult and lasted nearly five years.

In 2013, the two sides even approved a two-year extension of the previous 123 Agreement, which was set to expire in 2014, in order to give them more time to work out a deal. The major sticking point in the negotiations was over uranium enrichment and reprocessing technologies, which have the ability to produce fissile materials either for civilian nuclear fuel or for nuclear weapons.

The previous 123 Agreement was signed in 1974 and prohibited South Korea from enriching or reprocessing. Two other developments around that same time entrenched U.S. nuclear cooperation policy toward South Korea. First, the Indian nuclear test in 1974 changed U.S. nonproliferation policy in general, shifting from promoting reprocessing abroad to staunchly opposing the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Second, Washington found out about then-South Korean President Park Chung-hee’s clandestine nuclear weapons program in the mid-1970s and applied significant diplomatic pressure to stop that program. The U.S. government has consistently opposed granting South Korea consent to enrich or reprocess ever since.

Seoul pushed hard to gain that consent from Washington in the new 123 Agreement for several reasons. First, South Korea wants reprocessing technology in order to manage the country’s growing stocks of spent nuclear fuel. All spent fuel currently is kept on-site at reactors in temporary storage facilities, but some of these facilities may soon reach capacity, as early as 2016 according to one estimate, which would cause reactors to shut down. An interim solution is needed to alleviate this situation, but South Korea sees a type of reprocessing called pyroprocessing as a long-term solution to spent fuel management.

Siting radioactive waste storage facilities has been difficult in densely populated South Korea, but Seoul believes that pyroprocessing could significantly reduce the volume of waste and necessary storage time. Second, Seoul wants enrichment technology to support its nuclear reactor export business. South Korea won a $20 billion contract in 2009 to build four reactors in the United Arab Emirates and is looking to secure contracts in other countries, too. Because South Korea has no enrichment capability, the UAE contracted with North American and European companies to source natural uranium and supply enriched uranium for Korean companies to fabricate into fuel. Third, Seoul desires to be viewed on an equal footing as the other major nuclear technology suppliers, especially Japan, to which the United States granted consent for enrichment and reprocessing in 1987.

Despite a strong diplomatic push by Seoul, the new 123 Agreement does not give South Korea advanced consent for enrichment or reprocessing, at least not yet. The new 123 Agreement facilitates the continuation of a ten-year Joint Fuel Cycle Study (JFCS) between South Korea and the United States that was launched in 2011. The stated purpose of the JFCS is to assess the “…technical and economic feasibility and nonproliferation acceptability…” of technologies related to reprocessing and spent fuel management. A separate Nuclear Technology Transfer Agreement governs the transfer of technologies during the course of the JFCS, and the new 123 Agreement establishes a High-Level Bilateral Commission (HLBC) to enhance cooperation and address issues related to spent fuel management, fuel supply, and nuclear security.

Taken together, these agreements and mechanisms formed since 2011 significantly upgrade U.S.-South Korea civil nuclear cooperation, and they provide South Korea with formal channels to conduct research on reprocessing technologies and request consent for using these technologies in their civilian nuclear industry. They also set up times in the future that likely will see U.S. and South Korean negotiators once again discussing enrichment and reprocessing.

In 2018, the U.S.-Japan 123 Agreement, with advanced consent for Japan’s reprocessing program, is set to automatically renew unless either party calls for renegotiation, which appears unlikely, and this could be a time when Seoul asks, through the HLBC, why they also do not have advanced consent.

Three years later at the scheduled conclusion of the JFCS in 2021, Seoul may request permission to use the reprocessing technologies developed during the course of the study. The next foreseeable milestone is in 2032, when the new 123 Agreement requires the two parties to consult on whether to pursue an extension. Other developments, such as particularly acute spent fuel storage problems or more reactor export deals for South Korea, may also spur new talks over enrichment and reprocessing. Thus, the new 123 Agreement is a step forward for U.S.-South Korea civil nuclear cooperation, but the bigger steps regarding enrichment and reprocessing for South Korea remain yet to be taken.

About the Author: James E. Platte, PhD is an Asia Studies Visiting Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington, DC and a non-resident Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow with Pacific Forum CSIS. He holds a doctorate in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He can be reached at jeplatte@gmail.com.

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.

Established by the US Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options.

The Asia Pacific Bulletin (APB) series is produced by the East-West Center in Washington.

APB Series Editor: Dr. Satu Limaye, Director, East-West Center in Washington.
APB Series Coordinator: Alex Forster, Project Assistant, East-West Center in Washington.

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the East-West Center or any organization with which the author is affiliated.

For comments/responses on APB issues or article submissions, please contact washington@eastwestcenter.org
East-West Center | 1601 East-West Road | Honolulu, HI | 808.944.7111

East-West Center in Washington | 1819 L Street, NW, Suite 600 | Washington, DC | 202.293.3995

The American Plan for a South Asian “Kosovo” In Rohingyaland


June 18, 2015

The American Plan for a South Asian “Kosovo” In Rohingyaland ( Part 1)

by Andrew KORYBKO (USA)

http://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-i/

“As complex as it may appear at times, the main consistency of US foreign policy is that it covers its pursuit of geopolitical self-interest with humanitarian and democratic rhetoric. There’s always an ulterior motive behind the US lecturing countries about ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’, and those two key words should raise immediate red flags to any concerned decision makers in the targeted state that the US is addressing. Being the expert image manipulator that it is, the US never shies away from exploiting human tragedy for its own strategic ends, a lesson that everyone would do well remembering when considering the Rohingya issue in Myanmar“.–Andrew Korybko

As complex as it may appear at times, the main consistency of US foreign policy is that it covers its pursuit of geopolitical self-interest with humanitarian and democratic rhetoric. There’s always an ulterior motive behind the US lecturing countries about ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’, and those two key words should raise immediate red flags to any concerned decision makers in the targeted state that the US is addressing. Being the expert image manipulator that it is, the US never shies away from exploiting human tragedy for its own strategic ends, a lesson that everyone would do well remembering when considering the Rohingya issue in Myanmar. While there certainly are some legitimate grievances that the Rohingya are leveling against the authorities, it’s evident that the US is already exploiting them for its own geopolitical ends. Washington wants to establish a military presence in the Bay of Bengal in order to control China’s pipelines through Myanmar (both of which go through Rohingya-inhabited Rakhine State), but in order to get to that point, it first needs for the Rohingya to have their own autonomous or independent government there.

The first part begins by unraveling the layers of complex context related to the issue, before going into the specifics of the current migrant crisis. Part II then explains how the US aims to create an autonomous or independent Rohingyaland by capitalizing on this tragedy, and concludes with an examination of the multifaceted benefits it would receive through the creation of the South Asian “Kosovo”.

Unscrambling The Context

The plight of the Rohingyas and their place in the bigger picture of American geostrategy against China can appear to be an overwhelmingly complex topic, but it can be subdivided into three simpler categories of general understanding; American grand strategy; Myanmar’s domestic affairs; and the Rohingyas’ situation. By breaking down the bigger, thematic picture into smaller, finer details, one should be able to acquire a more solid understanding of how the US is relentlessly pursuing its own self-interest at the Rohingyas’ expense.

American Grand Strategy:

The US’ post-Cold War foreign policy has hinged on adhering to Brzezinski’s ‘Eurasian Balkans’ concept, which essentially stipulates that the US could manipulate preexisting ethnic, religious, and territorial issues in Eurasia in order to prolong its control of the supercontinent. This can be done in two ways: the method of indirect disorder has the US utilizing proxy actors to stir endless chaos, much as it’s currently doing with ISIL in the Mideast; while direct control involves the US conventionally asserting its on-the-ground dominance, just like it did by building Camp Bondsteel (one of its largest European bases) in occupied Kosovo after the 1999 War on Yugoslavia. Indirect disorder can be used as a modus operandi for establishing direct control, and this is precisely the game that’s at play with Rohingyaland along the Bay of Bengal.

mapMyanmar:

No place in South or Southeast Asia is more susceptible to the Eurasian Balkans concept of American-directed strategic state fragmentation than Myanmar, which has been fighting the world’s longest-running civil war since 1948. To unduly simplify the conflict, it involves the majority Burmese ethnic group in the central part of the country fighting against the myriad minority groups along its periphery, with the rebels seeking a federation but the government fighting for the status quo unitary nature of the state. While the war has been at a stalemate for quite some time, the opening of a new rebel front in the Rohingya’s Rakhine State could be the strategic shift that’s needed to turn the tide against the government, as none of the other rebelling regions or ethnicities is located along the coast.

This factor is exceptionally important since it could enable a slew of foreign patrons to ship massive amounts of material support to the rebels, perhaps even using plausibly deniable methods such as flying other nations’ flags above their arms-running vessels. The inland rebels have no such tactical advantage in this regard, which may be part of the reason why they have yet to be successful in their half-century-long campaign. The addition of a pro-federation rebel movement capable of receiving such supplies could make the decisive difference in finally tipping the balance of power against the government’s forces.

Rohingyas:

The demographic subject of the present article is at odds with the Myanmar government over its identity. The 800,0001-million-plus Rohingyas claim that they constitute a unique ethnic group, but Naypyidaw sees them as nothing more than the descendants of illegal Bengali migrants, some of whom even fought against the state on several occasions. As such, the government refuses to confer them with citizenship, thus leaving them stateless and unwittingly complicating the present migrant predicament (to be described in the next section). Worse still, because they’re not considered to be citizens, the state is reluctant to actively protect them from the sectarian purges carried out by the ‘Buddhist Bin Laden’ and his pro-Western hyper-nationalist thugs. Instead, it’s settled on a policy of segregation, preferring to force them into separate communities ostensibly out of concern for their own safety. Many Rohingya protest these living conditions that some claim are contrary to their human rights, hence why so many of them have decided to flee the country. Sensing a convenient opportunity for geopolitical benefit, the US has taken up the torch of Rohingya guardianship, advocating loudly in their favor and becoming their de-facto international patron.

The Current Crisis

The Rohingya had already been on the Western media radar since their 2012 persecution, but it’s the current migrant boat crisis that’s made their cause seemingly more urgent. While there are no clear-cut numbers available, the UN estimates that around 100,000 of them have fled by sea in the past three years, which would represent between 10-12% of their total population in Myanmar. These discomfiting numbers clearly indicate that there are some serious domestic issues in Myanmar motivating their exodus, but in and of themselves they’re not cause for direct humanitarian concern. The problem arose when it was reported in early May that around 6000 Rohingya were thought to be lost in the Andaman Sea after having been abandoned by their human traffickers, and genuine horror was experienced when 139 graves were later unearthed in Malaysia, believed to be of dead Rohingyas who perished before reaching their ultimate destination. The squalid camps alongside the Thai-Malaysian border that the illegal Rohingya migrants are regularly kept in have led many to believe that they’re either being abused or held captive by their traffickers. All of these dangers have combined to generate what the UN referred to early last month as a “looming humanitarian crisis”, and the deluge of fake images and internet memes related to the issue have contributed to a feeling of global urgency in addressing it.

Regional Response:

Aung San's Hands Up for GenocideHands Up for Genocide

The destination states of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia don’t want to accept any more migrants, having already absorbed tens of thousands of them in the past couple of years, and previously refused to let the stranded boats land on their territory. According to officials, Malaysia already has received 120,000 Rohingyas, while Thailand claims to be housing 100,000 as it is. Nonetheless, because of the exorbitant international pressure directed against them, all three states countries have agreed to temporarily house the at-sea migrants until they can be sent back home or to a third country, thereby abandoning their earlier policy of turning back the boats. While this may temporarily de-escalate the crisis and give the floating migrants a safe reprieve from the dangerous high seas, it doesn’t address the root cause of why the Rohingya are risking their lives to leave Myanmar in the first place, which is something the US intends to resolve.

Official Myanmar And Bengladeshi Positions:

The issue becomes even more complicated when one takes into account Myanmar’s official position on the matter. Naypyidaw asserts that human trafficking networks are to blame, not government persecution, and that many of the illegal migrants in question are actually from Bangladesh. Government representatives have accused some of them of pretending to be Rohingyas so as to receive preferential aid from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that they wouldn’t be able to procure with their actual Bengali identity. While critics might hark that Myanmar is lying about Bangladesh’s connection to the migrant boat crisis, the latter’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina decreed that those leaving the country illegally would be punished because they’re “tainting the image of the country in the international arena and putting their life into danger”, on top of being “mentally sick” in their pursuit for money abroad. No matter how one feels about Hasina’s comments, the fact that she addressed the topic in such a way confirms that the Bengali government acknowledges that their citizens are involved in this crisis and that it’s not completely about Rohingyas. Her statement lends credence to Myanmar’s claims that many of the migrants may actually be Bengali and inconveniently dismantles the Western media myth that anti-Rohingya persecution is to blame for the boat crisis.

The American Plan for a South Asian “Kosovo” In Rohingyaland (Part 2)

Carving Out The Asian “Kosovo”

There was no way that the US could resist politicizing such a tempting geopolitical crisis, and as expected, it found a way to diplomatically intervene. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell spoke out against the Myanmar government and sprinkled his statement with strong shades of ‘humanitarian intervention/responsibility to protect’ rhetoric when he announced that “There’s the need for the government to do all it can to protect and assume responsibility for members of a long-suffering religious minority group, the Rohingya, thousands of whom have been forced to take to the high seas on dangerous makeshift vessels to escape persecution .” By claiming that the government is responsible for whatever happens to the Rohingya overseas (an utterly ridiculous assertion to level against any state), McConnell is slyly inferring that it has blood on its hands for initiating the highly publicized crisis. This opens the door for the US to potentially deepen its involvement in ‘mediating’ the situation and dictating proposed ‘solutions’ for bringing it to an end. In fact, President Obama already drew a connection between ‘democratization’ and the government’s treatment of Rohingyas, and the State Department demands that they be given immediate citizenship. The US is clearly pursuing ulterior interests by using the humanitarian crisis as a cover for lecturing Myanmar, but what exactly is its end game?

Towards A Federation Model:

More than anything, the US wants to weaken the centrality of the Myanmar state and impose a federation model on the country. While such a governing template could be constructive step towards resolving certain countries’ internal crises (e.g. Ukraine), in others, it may only accelerate the unravelling of the state. Myanmar falls into the second category, as a federation system would inevitably lead to an archipelago of autonomous nation-states scattered all along the country’s periphery, and empowered within their new framework, they can more efficiently oppose central rule. Not only that, but they’d be extremely vulnerable to foreign lobbying in support of their anti-government positions, and the US could coopt them in order to guarantee that Myanmar remains weak and divided for the foreseeable future. If need be, the US could also manipulate each of the autonomous nation-states against one other in order to manufacture a territorial or political crisis that it could then exploit in intensifying its involvement in Myanmar’s internal affairs. It might even one day make the decision to dismantle the Union of Myanmar (the official name of the state) entirely, using the bloody Yugoslav model as a precedent in coaxing a disastrous ‘Reverse Brzezinskiintervention from China.

The Rohingya Autumn:

To get to this point, however, the US needs to deal a critical blow to the Myanmar government so that it reverses its decades-long policy of unity and finally accedes to devolving into a federation.   As explained previously, the most conceivable way in which this could be achieved is if the Rohingya begin a full-scale rebellion against the authorities. A serious uprising in the coastal Rakhine State could more easily be supported by foreign patrons (i.e. the US) than the ones that have been ongoing for decades along the periphery, but if the latter are strategically ordered to renew their anti-government campaign in concurrent coordination with a Rohingya rebellion, then the authorities would be placed in an extremely precarious and unprecedented situation.

The trigger for all of this destabilization could likely be the upcoming autumn general elections, scheduled to take place in either late October or early November. It’s for this exact reason that the US is so insistent that Myanmar grant the Rohingyas citizenship, since it wants them to partake in the election and throw the results for Rakhine State in a predetermined direction. This could take the form of voting for a fringe ‘protest candidate’ or party that has scarcely any hopes of an electoral victory, and when the Rohingya-affiliated candidate or party predictably loses, it could be a general signal for them to initiate their preplanned protest movement against the government. Under such a scenario, the Rohingyas could stage a Color Revolution demanding autonomy or outright independence as ‘compensation’ for what they allege was a ‘rigged election’ (echoing expected US and Western statements on the topic), and per the US’ new patterned approach to domestic interference, this could easily transition into a full-fledged Unconventional War. A similar scenario is that a Rohingya Color Revolution/Unconventional War breaks out sometime this summer in the run-up to the elections, which would be intended to pressure the government in making political concessions to them and the other ethnic rebels prior to the nationwide vote.

The Syrian Model:

The US’ Hybrid War against Myanmar could most likely follow the Syrian Model in extensively involving supportive regional states, in particular, those in which many Rohingya have already settled. This means that Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are candidates for joining the covert ‘coalition of the willing’ against Myanmar, as each of them could potentially train some of their Rohingyas in Color Revolution and/or Unconventional Warfare techniques before sending them back to their home country for future deployment. Such a plan would mirror what Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are doing against Syria, since each of them has already been training regime change-minded Syrians (and members of dozens of other nationalities) on their territory for years now. What the highlighted Asian states would be doing against Myanmar is no different, since it follows the same tried-and-tested pattern that the US has perfected in the Mideast.

Not all of those four countries may participate, however, since political considerations in Bangladesh and Thailand might preclude their involvement. Malaysia and Indonesia, while having their respective reservations, might be tempted to play an active role in the forthcoming conflict if the US succeeds in convincing them that they’d be fighting against anti-Muslim discrimination in Myanmar. It could also sweeten the deal by throwing in certain economic incentives, such as agreeing to bankroll most or all of the operation so long as those respective countries’ territories can be used as training bases. Additionally, it might pressure Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta by making the continuation of existing support (be it political, military, or economic) contingent on them joining the ‘coalition’ in their intended capacities. In exchange for their cooperation, the US might assure them of its support in combating ISIL if it ever establishes a foothold in the Mindanao-Sulawesi Arc, as was nervously speculated upon at the Shangri-La Dialogue meeting late last month. It doesn’t matter whether the US is sincere in this pledge or not (it might even receive some strategic benefit by setting ISIL loose in the region), but what’s important here is that this promise alleviates Malaysia and Indonesia’s greatest insecurity fear and consequently influences them in agreeing to the Rohingya operation.

Chaos For Creative Ends

Weakening Myanmar isn’t the only reason why the US is supporting the Rohingyas, as it has more grand objectives in mind which would be greatly facilitated as well. Here’s what the US has in store for South Asia:

US Bases:

The creation of an independent or largely autonomous Rohingyaland could lead to the establishment of the first American base in mainland South Asia, just as the manufacturing of “Kosovo” led to Camp Bondsteel as its first outpost in the Balkans. The US may exploit the humanitarian concern surrounding the Rohingyas to press for Western ‘observers’ to ‘monitor’ the situation in Myanmar, and the outbreak of any large-scale rebellion there could possibly invite an international intervention (‘justified’ on the false basis of ‘humanitarian intervention/responsibility to protect’) for their support. Whichever way it develops, it’s evident that the US has an interest in gaining a strategic military foothold in the region, since this would then allow it to simultaneously exert more direct influence on the rest of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Northeast India (which the US could contribute to further destabilizing in order to punish Modi for any major forthcoming multipolar moves), and China’s multiethnic and pivotal province of Yunnan.

Break Tf04da2db112214f8b07818he BCIM:

The US’ interest in this corner of South Asia is predicated on the BCIM trade corridor that would connect Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar. Should this ambitious plan be implemented, then the resultant South Asian Silk Road would markedly decrease tensions between India and China, stabilize India’s restive Northeast and Myanmar’s rebellious periphery, and lay the groundwork for tangible development in this impoverished cross-border region. All of these benefits would advance multipolarity within the four-country corridor and fortify its defenses against creeping unipolarity, hence why the US has an important stake in sabotaging the project via its Rohingya manipulations.

Pipeline Ploys:

Energy geopolitics is the guiding motivation for the vast majority of American geopolitical decisions, not least of which is its described designs against Myanmar. China recently opened two strategic oil and gas pipelines running through the country, which incidentally end in Rakhine State. As is known, Beijing is disproportionately dependent on energy shipments transiting the Strait of Malacca chokepoint, and the opening of alternative routes is of the highest strategic order in ensuring China’s energy security. While its moves in Myanmar are certainly a step in this direction, if Rakhine State is destabilized with a future crisis (Color Revolution and/or Unconventional War), or becomes autonomous/independent under American tutelage, then the strategic benefit that Beijing derived from these pipelines would be nullified and conversely become a considerable vulnerability.

Anti-China Proxy War:

The article earlier mentioned how destabilization in Myanmar could be exploited to tempt China into a conventional intervention, which is certainly probable, but it could also be used to destabilize it by other means as well. A return to full-scale warfare could lead to a humanitarian crisis in Yunnan with hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding into the province. Limited fighting between the Myanmar government and Kokang rebels earlier this year created a minor international sensation when an unexpected number of people fled to China, some of whom were supposedly turned back. The People’s Republic has reportedly had difficulty accommodating the refugees, demonstrating that it was relatively unprepared for the situation. One should understand that the fighting which prompted the humanitarian exodus was relatively small scale and of minor intensity, and that any real resumption of ethnic warfare along the entire Myanmar-China border would dwarf the earlier refugee crisis and create severe challenges for Beijing.

Jihadist Playground:

Last but not least, the Rohingya issue could become a rallying cry for international jidhadists due to the shades of Buddhist-on-Muslim violence. Experts are already warning that ISIL could recruit disgruntled Rohingyas, and one mustn’t forget that its Al Qaeda rival is also looking to set up shop in the region as well. While a plethora of exploitable regional opportunities present themselves for whichever jihadist group is interested , the Rohingya cause is the only one which has already received global recognition and near-universal sympathy, thereby implying a degree of ‘moral legitimacy’ for aspiring terrorists. Should ISIL or Al Qaeda nest themselves in Rakhine State, the destabilizing repercussions would be enormous and reverberate throughout the entire region. In fact, it might even prompt India and/or Bangladesh to stage some sort of intervention, especially if Rakhine-based terrorists carry out attacks against their countries. Suffice to say, the introduction of Islamic terrorism to Rakhine State would assuredly lead to the further internationalization of the Rohingya issue and constitute a dire security threat for the region’s governments.

Concluding Thoughts

The plight of the Rohingyas elicits understandable concern from many, but the unfortunate aspect is that the US is manipulating the world’s short-term emotional response to the current migrant crisis in order to pursue its long-term geopolitical interests in South Asia. The intended creation of a pro-American autonomous or independent Rohingyaland is akin to the same strategic pattern that it first spearheaded in “Kosovo”, except the US can now achieve its goals via the indirect Hybrid War lessons that it’s perfected in Syria. The crusade for state creation is inherently tied to the destruction of the targeted host state, which in this case would see Rohingyaland (and perhaps many other ethnic nation-states) being baptized through a sea of fire in separating from Myanmar. The US has concrete geopolitical reasons for why it supports the Rohingyas, chiefly concerning the establishment of its first intended base in mainland South Asia and its desire to cut off China’s non-Malacca pipeline routes through Myanmar. Additionally, with a firm regional outpost in Rohingyaland (whether direct or via proxy), the US can obstruct the multipolar BCIM trade corridor and leverage influence in Bangladesh, Northeast India, the rest of Myanmar, and perhaps even further afield in Yunnan Province. The coming months will be indicative of how far the US plans to go in supporting Rohingyaland, but by all current indications, it seems that this is a cause which Washington won’t give up on anytime soon.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

http://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-ii/

Claimant Tactics in the South China Sea: By the Numbers


June 16, 2015

EWC AP BulletinNumber 314 | June 16, 2015

ANALYSIS

Claimant Tactics in the South China Sea: By the Numbers

By Christopher Yung and Patrick McNulty

About the Authors

Christopher Yung is an independent consultant and Senior Advisor at Asia Taktik, LLC. He was formerly a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University. He can be reached at cdyung@aol.com. Patrick McNulty, at the time of writing, was a contract researcher at the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs, National Defense University. He now works at the George Washington University’s Language Center. He can be reached at pmcnulty@gwmail.gwu.edu.

IN 2012 the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University embarked on a year-long effort to examine the tactics of the rival claimants to the South China Sea maritime dispute. NDU collected data on and categorized the types of tactics being employed by the various claimants between 1995 and 2013 through an extensive open source internet search. The data were then entered into a comprehensive data base and the results analyzed to discern patterns of claimant behavior. The results provide important findings as tensions in the South China Sea continue to be acute.

The first noteworthy finding is that China is the most extensive user of the tactics identified by this research. In terms of sheer volume of numbers of actions, China accounted for over 500 actions dating back to 1995. The Philippines registered just over half of that number with just over 300 actions. Vietnam undertook about 150 actions, and Taiwan, about the same, whereas Malaysia took just over fifty and Brunei registered the smallest number of actions with fewer than twenty. China is also the most active user of both military and paramilitary actions to protect its maritime territorial claims. The research found 89 and 59 uses of military and paramilitary actions respectively in support of China’s maritime territorial claims between 1995 and 2013. This comprised 55% of the total incidents of the use of military and paramilitary actions in support of maritime claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines registered 43 and 17 uses of military and paramilitary actions in the same period and Vietnam registered under 15 combined uses of military and paramilitary actions in the same time period. We recorded Malaysia as using military and paramilitary actions 9 times and Brunei 5 times. Taiwan was recorded to have used paramilitary actions 10 times and the military 22 times. In evaluating this data it is important to recall that this is unclassified data. It is likely that many more military and paramilitary actions have taken place and these have not been publicly recorded. The one category of action where China’s actions are exceeded by one of its rivals is in the legal sphere. The Philippines initiated sizeably more legal actions than did China between 1995 and 2013.

One of the persistent topics of hot debate is: what is the origin of the tensions in the South China Sea? The Chinese argue that the U.S. “pivot” to Asia emboldened China’s rivals to act provocatively in the region, thus triggering Chinese actions. U.S. observers have argued that in the 2009 time frame (prior to the “Rebalance to Asia” policy announced in 2011) China started acting aggressively. The data bear out this latter assertion. The Chinese claim that it was responding to greater aggressiveness of its rivals is not borne out by the data . Although the Philippines registered more actions in 2008 than in previous years, the specific actions recorded do not suggest they would prompt China to ramp up military/paramilitary actions in the South China Sea.

When the research team examined both the ADMM+ and the DoC/CoC negotiations it found a wide array of diplomatic activity being employed. China vigorously pursued an approach that we labeled “Coalition Diplomacy” in which it either sought to build coalitions or break up coalitions against it (Vietnam and Philippines seeking to have ASEAN issue a joint statement identifying the South China Sea as a security problem needing resolution). China was eventually successful in preventing the issuing of such a communique.

The smaller states of Malaysia and Brunei actively supported ASEAN statements and positions on the territorial disputes, even though they were reluctant to specifically state these positions themselves. All of the claimants actively pursued “dispute management” diplomacy by agreeing in principle that maritime territorial disputes should be resolved peacefully, but China would not agree to a binding code of conduct.

A number of U.S. policy implications are derived from this research. The broad policy instruments that China seems to have been willing to use to advance China’s claims suggests that the U.S. must be prepared to be equally nuanced in its policy response. At a minimum, a greater inter-agency approach to U.S. management of the South China Sea appears to be in order. Also, given the Chinese use of a wide range of tools to advance China’s claims, the United States and its partners in the region will need to think through the possible repercussions and benefits of using a wide range of policy instruments of their own as sticks as well as carrots; or to put it another way, whether there is something to be gained from horizontal escalation if China’s behavior becomes too aggressive.

“The U.S. can and probably should be even more encouraging to put these territorial disputes before international courts and the U.S. should strongly consider directly aligning its policy stance on management of South China Sea territorial disputes directly with international law.”

Second, and related to this first point, the U.S. may need to think carefully how it might utilize the U.S. Coast Guard as a possible response to Chinese extensive use of maritime law enforcement vessels to advance China’s claims. This policy recommendation is much more complex than it sounds because at present the U.S. Coast Guard enjoys a very good relationship with the Chinese Coast Guard and the former will not want to needlessly sacrifice the good working relationship.

A third implication is that China appears to be willing to take action to bolster its position in the SCS while eroding or directly challenging U.S. credibility in the region. This strongly suggests that the United States needs to pay particularly close attention to its alliance partnerships and emerging relationships with friends in the region. It also strongly suggests that in order to forestall the erosion of U.S. credibility the United States national security establishment should internally engage in thinking through thresholds of Chinese activities, beyond which the U.S. would need to consider a more forceful response.

Fourth, China appears to have one “soft spot”–legal actions. That suggests that the U.S. can and probably should be even more encouraging to put these territorial disputes before international courts and the U.S. should strongly consider directly aligning its policy stance on management of South China Sea territorial disputes directly with international law. The recent State Department paper on its legal analysis of the South China Sea claims is a solid step in this direction.

Finally, since it is apparent that China’s diplomatic efforts are designed to keep the ASEAN states divided and off-balance, it is in American interest to promote the exact opposite. Anything the United States can do to assist the ASEAN countries in increasing the political and diplomatic costs to Chinese intransigence is a good thing.

Related Articles:

China’s Grand Strategy is not Absent, Just Contradictory, by Denny Roy, Asia Pacific Bulletin, No. 292, December 3, 2014

Asia’s Importance, China’s Expansion and U.S. Strategy: What Should Be Done?, by Robert Sutter, Asia Pacific Bulletin, No. 283, October 28, 2014

China’s New Calculations in the South China Sea, by Yun Sun, Asia Pacific Bulletin, No. 267, June 10, 2014

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.

Established by the US Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options.

The Asia Pacific Bulletin (APB) series is produced by the East-West Center in Washington.

APB Series Editor: Dr. Satu Limaye, Director, East-West Center in Washington
APB Series Coordinator: Alex Forster, Project Assistant, East-West Center in Washington

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the East-West Center or any organization with which the author is affiliated.
For comments/responses on APB issues or article submissions, please contact washington@eastwestcenter.org.

East-West Center | 1601 East-West Road | Honolulu, HI | 808.944.7111

East-West Center in Washington | 1819 L Street, NW, Suite 600 | Washington, DC | 202.293.3995

Indonesia’s Defence Diplomacy


June 16, 2015

RSIS WP

 WP293 | Indonesia’s Defence Diplomacy: Harnessing the Hedging Strategy against Regional Uncertainties

by Iis Gindarsah

 Abstract

Indonesia has been increasingly susceptible to recent geopolitical  developments. Along with the rapid pace of regional arms modernisation and unresolved territorial disputes, it begins to ponder the impact of emerging great power rivalry to the country’s strategic interests. However, rather than pursuing a robust military build-up, Indonesian policymakers assert that diplomacy is the country’s first line of defence.
This paper argues that Indonesia’s defence diplomacy serves two agenda of hedging strategy—strategic engagement and military modernisation. This way, Indonesian defence and security officials seek to moderate the impact of geopolitical changes whilst maintaining the country’s defensive ability against regional uncertainties.

Read On:

Ambassador Malott responds to his Critic


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 Hiroko Malottstraight  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?

Mahathir Mohamad-2014I 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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Ambassador_to_Malaysia

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.

http://articles.latimes.com/1998/sep/10/news/mn-21437

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.

DM@East-West CenterAllow 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

Alexandria, Virginia

June 7, 2015

Dear Din,

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

“Dato Ariff,

“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. “

http://sakmongkol.blogspot.com/2011/02/debating-mr-mallot-2.html

_______________

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.”

http://sakmongkol.blogspot.com/2011/02/issues-malott-raised.html

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.”

http://sakmongkol.blogspot.com/2013/11/racism-and-inequality.html

So today Sakmongol AK47 and I agree.–John Malott.