Bank Negara RCI –A Political Witch hunt?


September 26, 2017

Bank Negara RCI –A Political Witch hunt

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

The hearings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Bank Negara Malaysia’s foreign exchange trading losses has ended. They called in 25 witnesses, and apparently more than 40 relevant documents have been scrutinised.

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The RCI was to investigate the losses incurred by Bank Negara in the early 1990s. The RCI was led by its chairman Sidek Hassan, who is former Chief Secretary to the government and current chairman of PETRONAS.

At the beginning of the RCI, Sidek told the public that they had been given five key tasks.

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Zeroing the Blame on Dr. Mahathir for Bank Negara Forex Losses.But what about 1MBD Scandal?

First, to determine the authenticity of the allegation on the foreign exchange trading losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia in the 1990s and its implications on the national economy.

Second, to determine whether BNM’s involvement in the foreign exchange trading activities which caused the losses had contravened the Central Bank Ordinance 1958 or any relevant laws.

Third, to determine whether there were hidden facts or information relating to foreign exchange losses suffered by BNM and misleading statements given to the Cabinet, Parliament and the Public.

Fourth, to recommend suitable actions to be taken against those found to be directly or indirectly involved in causing the losses and hiding the facts and information on the losses.

Fifth, to recommend appropriate measures to ensure the incident will not recur.

I find the increasing demands for RCIs rather worrying. Yes, indeed it is a legitimate tool that we can use to investigate any pertinent matter. But the fact that we see more and more people calling for RCIs on various issues show that there is a lack of trust in the regular mechanisms or institutions that exist to investigate matters.

We already have bodies like the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), plus various other law enforcement agencies, whose jobs are to conduct investigations on matters under their purview.

Public demand for RCIs to be formed imply that they do not fully trust the existing institutions, and that is why another body needs to be formed. This declining trust in our public institutions worries me.

In any case, the formation of this latest RCI is another low in itself. It was formed to investigate a matter that took place 30 years ago, when there are more than enough things that remain unresolved today.

The Malays have a saying about this: “Gajah depan mata tak nampak, tapi kuman di seberang laut nampak jelas.”

Supporters of former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed have claimed that the RCI is an attempt by the government to tarnish his legacy. They have a point.

The focus of this investigation seems to be on Mahathir alone. With a stretch, perhaps it will implicate Anwar Ibrahim too. But the focus seems to be Mahathir.

I find this truly amazing because the RCI was formed only when Mahathir formed a new political party that is currently challenging UMNO.

When he was still in UMNO, nobody was interested in investigating him. And when he was Prime Minister, many of these people, from all races and religions, were kissing his hands.

Some of the current members of the Cabinet were Mahathir’s ardent defenders soon after the losses were incurred by Bank Negara. They stayed sheepishly silent while Mahathir was their leader. And they continued to be silent even after Mahathir’s retirement as Prime Minister in 2003.

Is it a coincidence that these politicians suddenly found their conscience a few months after Mahathir founded a new opposition party?

Where did they hide that conscience during the years when they were worshipping Mahathir?

Malaysia follows a Westminster-style democracy where the cabinet as a whole acts collectively. There is no one-man-show. All members of the cabinet are collectively and equally responsible for all the decisions.

Now with the new-found conscience, can we reasonably expect that everyone who has ever served under Mahathir’s Cabinet will take collective responsibility for any recommendations made by the RCI?

Or are they going to blame Mahathir alone since he is now an opposition leader, while claiming infallibility for those who are still in government?

An RCI is an institution that we usually appeal to in order to boost confidence in our system of government. When other bodies cannot fully fulfil the trust burden, we often appeal to entities like the RCI to step in and play their roles.

The high regards commanded by an entity like the RCI is the reason why it usually works. That is also why such a body deserves the word “Royal” in its name. But abusing an RCI like this is completely unacceptable. It erodes trust in yet another institution in the country.

If Mahathir has done any wrong in the Bank Negara forex dealings, then those people who were in his Cabinet at that time should have resigned in protest, or they should at least have spoken, then. Not just now. But they had 30 years to do it.

Failing to resign at that time shows that they have no real principles. And what a shame that they damage public trust in the noble institution of the RCI too in this blatant exhibition of their hypocrisy.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).

 

Trump and the Truth About Climate Change


July 22, 2017

Trump and the Truth About Climate Change

by Joseph E. Stiglitz

http://www.project-syndicate.com

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Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, the United States took another major step toward establishing itself as a rogue state on June 1, when it withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. For years, Trump has indulged the strange conspiracy theory that, as he put it in 2012, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” But this was not the reason Trump advanced for withdrawing the US from the Paris accord. Rather, the agreement, he alleged, was bad for the US and implicitly unfair to it.

While fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, Trump’s claim is difficult to justify. On the contrary, the Paris accord is very good for America, and it is the US that continues to impose an unfair burden on others.

Historically, the US has added disproportionately to the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and among large countries it remains the biggest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide by far – more than twice China’s rate and nearly 2.5 times more than Europe in 2013 (the latest year for which the World Bank has reported complete data). With its high income, the US is in a far better position to adapt to the challenges of climate change than poor countries like India and China, let alone a low-income country in Africa.

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After 6 months in office, Trump has shown that he is incapable of getting his agenda going. He cannot get at the issues which require his leadership.

In fact, the major flaw in Trump’s reasoning is that combating climate change would strengthen the US, not weaken it. Trump is looking toward the past – a past that, ironically, was not that great. His promise to restore coal-mining jobs (which now number 51,000, less than 0.04% of the country’s non-farm employment) overlooks the harsh conditions and health risks endemic in that industry, not to mention the technological advances that would continue to reduce employment in the industry even if coal production were revived.

In fact, far more jobs are being created in solar panel installation than are being lost in coal. More generally, moving to a green economy would increase US income today and economic growth in the future. In this, as in so many things, Trump is hopelessly mired in the past.

Just a few weeks before Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord, the global High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, which I co-chaired with Nicholas Stern, highlighted the potential of a green transition. The Commission’s report, released at the end of May, argues that reducing CO2 emissions could result in an even stronger economy.

The logic is straightforward. A key problem holding back the global economy today is deficient aggregate demand. At the same time, many countries’ governments face revenue shortfalls. But we can address both issues simultaneously and reduce emissions by imposing a charge (a tax) for CO2 emissions.

It is always better to tax bad things than good things. By taxing CO2, firms and households would have an incentive to retrofit for the world of the future. The tax would also provide firms with incentives to innovate in ways that reduce energy usage and emissions – giving them a dynamic competitive advantage.

The Commission analyzed the level of carbon price that would be required to achieve the goals set forth in the Paris climate agreement – a far higher price than in most of Europe today, but still manageable. The commissioners pointed out that the appropriate price may differ across countries. In particular, they noted, a better regulatory system – one that restrains coal-fired power generation, for example – reduces the burden that must be placed on the tax system.

Interestingly, one of the world’s best-performing economies, Sweden, has already adopted a carbon tax at a rate substantially higher than that discussed in our report. And the Swedes have simultaneously sustained their strong growth without US-level emissions.

America under Trump has gone from being a world leader to an object of derision. In the aftermath of Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris accord, a large sign was hung over Rome’s city hall: “The Planet First.” Likewise, France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, poked fun at Trump’s campaign slogan, declaring “Make Our Planet Great Again.”

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But the consequences of Trump’s actions are no laughing matter. If the US continues to emit as it has, it will continue to impose enormous costs on the rest of the world, including on much poorer countries. Those who are being harmed by America’s recklessness are justifiably angry.

Fortunately, large parts of the US, including the most economically dynamic regions, have shown that Trump is, if not irrelevant, at least less relevant than he would like to believe. Large numbers of states and corporations have announced that they will proceed with their commitments – and perhaps go even further, offsetting the failures of other parts of the US.

In the meantime, the world must protect itself against rogue states. Climate change poses an existential threat to the planet that is no less dire than that posed by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. In both cases, the world cannot escape the inevitable question: what is to be done about countries that refuse to do their part in preserving our planet?

Anwar Ibrahim is my Prime Minister and why


May 25, 2017

Anwar Ibrahim is my Prime Minister and why

by http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for anwar ibrahimNo Politician in Malaysia has been challenged, tested, and made to suffer like Anwar Ibrahim. Yet he has remained steadfast to his cause. It takes a lot of willpower and character. Nurul Izzah Anwar told me when I met her recently in Phnom Penh that her father refused asylum in the United Kingdom and a professorial position at the prestigious Georgetown University in the United States because he would not abandon his struggle for freedom, justice and democracy.–Din Merican
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Comment: It is life’s irony that a man who was regarded a “Malay Ultra” by the Late Lee Kuan Yew and a long serving 4th Prime Minister with blemished track record of failed institutions and Malay-centeric policies is the preferred choice to be the Prime Minister should Pakatan Harapan win the GE-14 elections.

It shows to me at least how desperate Malaysians have become to want a 92 year old ex-UMNO President to lead our country. This is good news to the incumbent Najib Razak because he can beat Dr. Mahathir  quite easily. He has enough information about his predecessor twice removed to sway voters against Pakatan Harapan.  It will then be from “Ada Harapan to Tiada Harapan” (Hope to No Hope).

I make no bones about my choice as our country’s next Prime Minister. He is no other than the village boy (he is not a member of the Malay aristocratic class) from Chrok Tok Kun in Penang called Anwar Ibrahim. He is not perfect (neither am I and you) but he is the most experienced Malaysian politician and a charismatic personality cum public intellectual with ideas about democracy, freedom, social justice and good governance. He has been through a lot as a result of being in jail on trumped up charges of sodomy. Yet Anwar is unwavering in his commitment to the people of Malaysia the way Nelson Mandela was to the people of South Africa. Mandela became President after spending 27 years in jail.  Anwar can be Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

I should know about Anwar Ibrahim as I was once working for him in 2007-2009. In 2008, I traveled with him in his car day and night to campaign throughout the length and breadth of our country. We spent countless hours chatting about his vision for Malaysia and empathy for the ordinary man. He united the Opposition including PAS and created a movement that eventually led to the political demise of Abdullah Badawi, our inept and sleepy head 5th Prime Minister. He replaced by Najib Razak, Mahathir’s choice as UMNO President and Prime Minister.

Unfortunately for Anwar and us Malaysians , Najib Razak was able to create Sodomy 2 (I am not sure if Tun Dr. Mahathir and his associates had hand it in this) that landed him in Sungei Buloh for the second time.  Today, he remains our prisoner of conscience, who is strong in will and very committed to the cause of justice, freedom and dignity for Malaysians. Here is to you, Anwar Ibrahim: Salam Reformasi. Lawan Tetap Lawan. –Din Merican

Desperate Malaysians prefer Tun Dr. Mahathir as Prime Minister again

by http://www.malaysiakini.com

An overwhelming majority of Malaysiakini’s readers have endorsed Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Pakatan Harapan’s Prime minister candidate.

According to the 12,777 who voted in the new portal’s poll, 8,926 (69.9 percent) said Mahathir should be made a candidate while 3,276 (25.6 percent) disagreed. A small group answered “Not sure” or “Don’t care” in the poll, which ran for six days since May 19.

As the poll was conducted in three languages, the results showed different voting patterns among the various demographics.

Respondents who took part in the English-language version were the most supportive of naming Mahathir as a candidate for the premiership, compared to Bahasa Malaysia or Chinese-language readers.

Of those who answered the English-language poll, 76.6 percent were in favour of naming Mahathir as prime ministerial candidate while 68.6 percent of those who answered through the Bahasa Malaysia poll voted the same.

However, only 51 percent of those who answered the Chinese-language poll backed Mahathir for the top post, with 43.9 percent disagreeing.

One of the reasons for the Chinese-language poll results could be related to Mahathir’s words and deeds during his tenure as Prime Minister, for example, the Suqiu election appeals issue. In 2000, even DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, who has since buried the hatchet with Mahathir, lambasted the former Premier over the Suqiu matter.

After accepting Suqiu’s election appeal, which included a review of the National Economic Policy, Mahathir, following the 1999 polls, had likened the movement to the communists. Another reason for the lack of support among Chinese-language readers is perhaps because they prefer jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to helm the nation.

Harapan has been under pressure of late over their nominee for Prime Minister, with BN claiming that this proves that the opposition coalition was not united.

The Harapan New Deal–Mahathir


May 9, 2017

The Harapan New Deal–Mahathir : The Hobson’s Choice for the Opposition?

Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

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Strange Brew in the Politics of Convenience

“I see Datuk Seri Najib is bending backwards to appease the Chinese, in the process of course he has antagonised quite a lot of Malays.”

— Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad

“Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua.”

–Prime Minister Najib Razak

Everything columnist P Gunasegaram wrote in both his articles about the former Prime Minister and does ‘Harapan need Mahathir’ is correct and if you believe that saving Malaysia means getting rid of the current grand UMNO Grand Poobah then yes, the Opposition does need Mahathir.

“Correct” in everything, other than bringing PAS back in the fold. Then again, it is somewhat correct. I know what Guna means about bringing PAS back in the fold. There is a dialectic going on within PAS that scares the hell out of the Abdul Hadi Awang-UMNO wing of PAS and it is probably this element that Guna thinks is worth working with.

Hopefully the strategists in the Opposition are working on this because the Opposition has only ever been successful when they present a unified front against the hegemon. While Abdul Hadi Awang attempts to work his magic for his patrons in Putrajaya, he is mindful of manoeuvres from within to undermine the post-Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat reality he is attempting to forge. But this is not what this article is about.

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The Return of an Old Warrior–Can he make a Difference?

As I have argued, needing Mahathir is a Hobson’s choice of the Opposition’s making and while racial politics has always been a feature of opposition politics, the rhetoric coming from the de facto Opposition leader is furthering the fear-mongering racial narratives that used to be only the province of UMNO only.

Those dark paths to retaining power is always fraught with danger and it is naïve to think that the Opposition is “using” Mahathir. Nobody has ever used Mahathir and as one dejected DAP political strategist told me, referencing a line from a forgettable Nicholas Cage film ‘8MM’, “When you dance with devil, the devil doesn’t change, the devil changes you.”

You have to give it to former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Even when he is peddling his ‘Malay’nationalistic narrative, he manages to include the ‘domestic’ Chinese under his protection by claiming that “local businesses, largely Malaysian Chinese owned, will definitely lose out to those of the Mainland Chinese.”

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Najib Razak’s Secret Weapon for GE-14 to subjugate the Malays

The operative word here is “Chinese” and even though Mahathir said, “It is this massive immigration that we object to. If the project is by Indians and a few million Indians are to come and live in Malaysia, we would also strongly object” – this probably does not include a certain Indian national (preacher Zakir Naik)who has been granted PR status and will no doubt be the loudspeaker du jour from the UMNOo regime to shore up ‘Malay’ support.

While Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali is grateful that the Bandar Malaysia, or whatever is called, is flushed down the toilet at the moment, I do wonder though that if those “local largely owned Malaysian Chinese” concerns are as relieved as Perkasa? This considering the fact that business in Malaysia is an unholy brew of ‘ketuanan’ politics and Chinese plutocrat enablers.

Same strategy

Foreign interlopers are a legitimate concern; that is why the strategy is used the world over and extremely effectively by far-right political parties. Here in Malaysia, where the distinction between local and foreign Chinese is unappreciated in the crowd that Bersatu and Pakatan are attempting to win over, this idea that appealing to the baser fearful instincts of the Malay electorate spells nothing but trouble for Malaysia.

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Yes, it is putarbelitism ala Najib’s UMNO

Anti-Chinese narratives fuel ‘ketuanan’ politics and while it may seem like a good political strategy to further the narratives that the Malay community is under threat from foreign Chinese intervention, the reality is thanks to Biro Tatanegara (BTN) courses, the social contract, the racist rhetoric of UMNO, the ‘putarbelit’ narratives of the Opposition, this meme that the Malay community will always be under siege, is what is going to destroy this country in the near future.

When the former Prime Minister writes – “Pimpinan tertinggi DAP mengaku bahawa oleh kerana penduduk Cina adalah minoriti di Malaysia, tidak mungkin DAP mendirikan kerajaan di peringkat pusat di Malaysia, jauh sekali menjadi perdana menteri walaupun jika DAP menang semuakerusi yang ditandingi,” in attempts to reassure the Malay polity that all is well in the state of Denmark, the only thing the DAP can do assume the role that MCA played while the UMNO regime made its carpetbagger deals with the Malay community.

Just four years ago, DAP’s Tony Pua was warning Malaysians of the former prime minister’s attempt to redefine racism. He wrote – “When Malays vote overwhelmingly for UMNO in the past, it is never ‘racism’. When a 100 percent Malay crowd hold weekly protests against the Pakatan Rakyat government in Penang, it is not ‘racism’. When Chinese voted for MCA in the past, that can’t be ‘racism’. When Chinese also voted strongly for PAS and PKR in the current elections, PAS and PKR are not accused of ‘racism’.

“When Malays increased their support for the DAP candidates in the same election, Dr Mahathir accused DAP of spreading “propaganda” that influenced educated Malays into perceiving the Barisan Nasional (BN) government as corrupt.

“However, when the Chinese also voted strongly for DAP, that is proof of DAP ‘racism’. When many Chinese turns up at Pakatan Rakyat events, that is beyond shadow of a doubt, Chinese ‘racism’. What type of senile perverted logic is that?”

Some would argue that it is the same “perverted logic” that sustained the hegemon and still does all these years. Does anyone really think that there would be no blowback from this kind of rhetoric? Racism and racial politics do not exist in a vacuum. There is a reason why the former Prime Minister is relying heavily on the DAP to provide him with his anti-racist credentials.

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PKR and DAP’s Ketuanan Melayus

What the DAP has become is the fig leaf for the type of ‘ketuanan’ dogma that the Najib refuseniks hope will cause enough rifts within the Malay community that would cause Umno to implode from within and enable them to pick up the pieces when the dust clears. In other words, the DAP has become those best friends in the “I am not racist as some of my best friends are black people” defence.

Like I said, in another piece, Mahathir could be the Trump vote – “Trump used every bigoted trick in the book, from demonising Muslims to scaremongering about a ‘Mexican’ menace to warning about the yellow peril all because of a weak entrenched political establishment. The de facto opposition leader is doing the same thing now – pointing out compromised trade deals made by a weak potentate and the threat of ‘foreign’ migration. As with Trump, he camouflages these with legitimate economic and social anxieties. And like Trump, he has a diverse coalition of ideologically disparate power groups working with him to destroy the establishment.”

What has Trump been doing since he won and promised to drain the swamp? Simple, he has been placating the far-right elements of the GOP (Grand Old Party, or the Republicans) while attempting to maintain the status quo and re-energise a divided GOP.

Hopefully this will not sound familiar.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Indonesia’s Foreign Policy: Relations with China


May 30, 2016

Indonesia’s Foreign Policy: Relations with China

by Evan A Laksmana

In mid-March, a Chinese Coast Guard rammed one of its own fishing boats to pry it free from Indonesian authorities who had seized it for illegal fishing off the Natuna Islands – the northernmost undisputed Indonesian island group.

The incident has put a spotlight on Indonesia’s foreign policy under President Joko Widodo or Jokowi. Analysts have carefully examined the incident in great detail (seehere and here).

In the incident’s wake, the Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, and Fisheries Minister responded in different, and somewhat overlapping, ways. The Fisheries Minister has become the public face for Indonesia’s visibly angry response, while the military, according to press reports, continues preparations to upgrade its facilities in the Natunas.

Several diplomats wrote op-eds slamming Beijing for its disregard of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the rules-based order Jakarta has always pushed for in the management of the South China Sea. Jokowi’s Chief Foreign Policy Adviser, Dr. Rizal Sukma who is currently Ambassador to London, noted the importance of illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing as the common challenge for Indonesia and China; rather than sovereignty as the Natunas are undisputedly Indonesian in the first place.

Yet, after delivering an official diplomatic protest to the Chinese Embassy, the Foreign Minister insisted that the incident had nothing to do with the South China Sea dispute. Jokowi also instructed Luhut Pandjaitan, the Coordinating Minister for political, legal, and security affairs, to take necessary steps but reminded him that China “remains Indonesia’s friend.”

Jakarta has taken a hard stance with those caught illegally fishing in its waters.

Indonesia destroyed 23 foreign fishing boats, as worsening relations over the disputed South China Sea drive countries to take tougher action to defend their maritime sovereignty.

This seemingly incoherent response reveals some of the broader trends in Indonesia’s foreign policy in recent years. First, despite the growing literature on how the post-1998 democratic transition and consolidation has overhauled foreign policy-making, foreign policy remains strongly, perhaps even idiosyncratically, a presidential affair.

This is partially a legacy of the centralised system entrenched under Suharto’s New Order, and partially because successive post-Suharto Presidents never paid serious and sustained attention to developing a professional, well-funded foreign ministry and a well-oiled foreign policy-making system – particularly one that can spans different parts of the government to harness the country’s different tools of regional and global engagement.

For almost two decades after 1998, only the organisational reforms instituted under Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda are noteworthy. But even those reforms were not well-funded, nor were they sustainable given some of the entrenched bureaucratic challenges and the ebbs and flow of presidential support. It is not surprising therefore that the personal characteristics of different post-Suharto presidents shaped and shoved Indonesia’s foreign policy.

What this means is that Jokowi’s personal aloofness on foreign affairs, his seemingly narrow domestic economic agenda, and his concerns with domestic politics, have prevented the Office of the President to marshal the nation’s strategic community to forcefully, coherently, and consistently respond to day-to-day challenges, including in the South China Sea.

Furthermore, the absence of a dedicated foreign affairs staff inside the Presidential Palace (or an executive National Security Council, for that matter), the departure of key foreign policy advisers, and the increasingly lack of chemistry and trust between the President and Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, have further exacerbated this problem.

Second, Jakarta’s over-reliance on the “non-claimant honest broker” position on the South China Sea suggests the `path dependence’ of institutionalist thinking within the Foreign Ministry. Two strands of institutionalist thought are particularly salient: the belief in the virtues of international law along with a rules-based order underpinned by UNCLOS 1982, and the utility of multilateralism and ASEAN.

The first strand goes back to the 1956 Djuanda Declaration and has been sustained and strengthened by a series of influential diplomats and foreign ministers trained in international law for the past several decades. In the early 2000s, there were reports of a growing network of influential diplomats under the tutelage of Foreign Minister Wirajuda that came through the Indonesian representative office in Geneva (all steeped in international law).

The second strand goes back to the founding of ASEAN (1967) and the New Order’s efforts to ensure domestic stability and regime maintenance by pushing for regional stability in Southeast Asia. Indonesia’s leadership of the grouping and its position as the country’s foreign policy “cornerstone”– and the fact that many of Jakarta’s achievements were done within a multilateral framework — has sustained this institutionalist thinking.

According to a former member of Jokowi’s transition team, these institutionalist strands of thought often crowd out other “scenario-based realist” thinking on foreign policy, which is often critical in dealing with developments in the South China Sea. The institutionalist thinking has also led to push backs from the broader  strategic community (including defense and fisheries ministries) in Jakarta concerned with China’s militarisation of the region and its constant encroachment of Indonesia’s maritime territories.

The logic of institutions is powerful but it is also glacial-paced. Meanwhile, as we can see, given the current escalations and rapidly changing “facts on the ground”, so to speak, in the South China Sea, Jakarta may need to realise it is being strategically blinded by its own lens and hindered by maritime governance inter-bureaucratic infighting

Third, given the previous two trends, Indonesia’s foreign policy-making requires better and improved inter-agency coordination and collaboration and larger funding and resources.

When it comes to the South China Sea, the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Political Affairs should get the Foreign Ministry to talk more regularly to other agencies, particularly the Navy, Maritime Security Agency, and the IUU fishing task force of the Fisheries Ministry. The Foreign Ministry should also invest more in sending senior officials to attend regular inter-agency meetings and expand the number of senior diplomats sent to inter-agency courses, such as those run by the National Resilience Institute.

Given the prevalent view that Indonesia’s best and brightest tend to join the Foreign Ministry, policymakers should not let it become an isolated actor within the broader national security system and establishment. Additionally, House of Representatives’ Commission for Defence, Foreign Affairs and Information – charged with discussing issues related to its portfolio and formulating plenary bills for consideration by parliament –needs to be more involved in foreign policy-making and increase the budgetary resources for the Foreign Ministry.

The current budget only stands at roughly $549 million, with roughly 80-85 per cent devoted to routine expenditures and personnel salaries. This lack of budgetary support is not unique to Jokowi of course. According to budgetary documents compiled by CSIS Jakarta, the Foreign Ministry’s annual budget from 1999 to 2014 leveled at around $305 million on average, or roughly 0.69 per cent of the national budget.

We should bear in mind these broader trends and limitations in Indonesia’s foreign policy-making when expecting Jakarta to play a more proactive role in balancing the ongoing US-China strategic rivalry, and the peaceful management of the South China Sea disputes.

Evan A Laksmana is a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta, and a political science doctoral candidate at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. 

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2016/04/05/jakarta-left-all-at-sea-by-island-clash-with-china/

 

It’s Payback Time for Muhyiddin, Shafie Apdal and Others


December 1, 2015

It’s Payback Time for Muhyiddin, Shafie Apdal and Others

PERHIMPUNAN AGUNG UMNO 2012

Former DPM Muhyiddin Yassin is concerned about the “strange things happening in UMNO” which he says reveals an erosion of “responsibility, justice, and trust among certain leaders.”

We would like to tell him, former PM Mahathir Mohamad and other UMNO dissenters, “Now, you know what the rakyat have suffered over these past four decades.”

While we support the efforts within UMNO to make Najib Abdul Razak accountable for his actions, we must not forget that the Internal Security Act was used to persecute people who had legitimate grouses against the government. Many lecturers, politicians and artists were silenced in their prime (1987 Ops Lalang). Many more critics fled overseas to escape imprisonment. And today we are shackled by the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Sedition Act, Sosma and other laws.

For decades, the lack of a credible opposition and the use of indoctrination crippled democracy and created a nation ruled by fear. Many of us are still afraid to speak out, especially when we see people who were once powerful, like Mahathir and Muhyiddin, ignored or sacked and their characters assassinated.

Mahathir the Mamak

The rakyat need the help of the UMNO rebels, the G25, human rights activists, and NGOs like Bersih to help restore democracy and true governance to Malaysia. Will those in power understand that power cannot last forever? Will they think of the welfare of the nation instead of their party’s interests or their individual interests?

Mahathir and Muhyiddin have acted out of loyalty only to UMNO Baru. They may have mistakenly imagined that they were acting for the good of the nation. Mahathir still maintains that Najib must be removed, but that BN should remain in power. He refuses to accept that UMNO Baru (of his own making) is a major part of the problem.

People in UMNO Baru are blind to many of the problems created by the party. If Najib were to be removed, these same people would continue to call the shots. They are unable to distinguish between what’s right and wrong and what’s just and unjust.

During Mahathir’s rule, UMNO Baru used race, religion and the royal houses to divide the people. We have seen the rise of cronyism and nepotism. We have observed that accountability and taking responsibility do not feature in UMNO Baru’s processes. We have seen the breakdown of independent public institutions like the judiciary, the civil service and the police. We are alarmed by the increase in moral policing, the unstoppable rise of religious bodies and the attack on individual liberties.

In East Malaysia, Sabah is practically overrun by immigrants. The demographics of the nation were destroyed by Project IC, and despite their natural wealth, both Sabah and Sarawak are treated like pariah states when they should be on par with peninsular Malaysia.

Hamidah Osman was unfairly sacked by the UMNO Supreme Council, and it was right for Muhyiddin to come to her defence when he said, “I would like to remind them (the leaders) that UMNO is not a party belonging to any individual. It is a party for all Malays. Do not hurt the Malays with actions that are untrustworthy and irresponsible.”

But then, unfair dismissals, lack of understanding and compassion, injustice and treachery have been endured by the rakyat for many years. Unfortunately, UMNO Baru politicians treat Malaysia as a country belonging to their party.

Finally, isn’t it time for Muhyiddin to realise that race-based politics have been the undoing of Malaysia?