Thursday, August 18, 2016

Najib’s non-confrontational foreign policy

Salleh Said Keruak

History has shown that most wars occur between neighbours. And if Malaysia were to ever go to war it would be with one of its ASEAN neighbours. And that was the reason why Tunku Abdul Rahman mooted the idea of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which was launched almost 50 years ago on 8th August 1967.

Tun Ghazali Shafie -- who served as Malaysia’s Foreign Minister from 1981 to 1984 and played a crucial role in trying to end the conflict in Cambodia -- once said it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war. In other words, as long as we continue talking we shall not fight. And this is what diplomacy and foreign relations is all about.

Unfortunately, Malaysia has been quite antagonistic and confrontational in its foreign relations back in the 1980s and 1990s and this was not in line with the country’s leading role in ASEAN. In fact, Malaysia also demonstrated the same antagonistic and confrontational stance with the western countries such as the UK, US and Australia.

Under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s watch, however, all this has changed, which even attracted criticism that Najib is too friendly and too accommodating to Singapore. Najib’s keynote address at the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) 2016 biennial conference today probably best describes his foreign policy when he said:

“Malaysians are warm, approachable and collaboration-orientated people; for decades we had a leader who adopted intentionally confrontational foreign policy positions, perhaps for personal popularity. But when I became prime minister, I chose to be different, and make a clear break with past approaches. Because I believe Malaysia’s foreign policy should be about building partnerships that benefit the country and the people.” 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New colonialism in the Internet era

Salleh Said Keruak

To relate the history of colonialism would require a thesis and can never be given justice in a short Blog posting. I shall try, however, to explain in the shortest possible manner why the world and countries like Malaysia face the danger of being colonised and what form of colonisation we are talking about.

In the past, for more than 2,000 years, colonisation has always been through military intervention or occupation. However, the Emergency in Malaya, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, etc., showed that military might was no longer enough. It takes more than guns to dominate a country.

While the US used the military to fight the Korean and Vietnam Wars without much success, the British successfully used the fight to win the hearts and minds of the people. And that is why Malaysia is not a Communist State today, one of the few countries to win the war against Communism.

Malaya was too important to the British and they could not afford to lose this prized colony. Britain was practically bankrupted by WWII and Malaya contributed to two-thirds of the British economy. Without Malaya Britain would have taken a far longer time to recover.

Today, military occupation can no longer be applied. The superpowers need to colonise countries such as Malaysia through economic domination and through what some would crudely call ‘mind control’. You need to dictate public opinion and guide the thinking of the people. And with the popularity of the Internet this becomes possible.

The media -- plus the banks, of course -- is very crucial to what we can consider this new form of colonisation. It is basically colonisation of the mind. It worked 100 years ago when the west first embarked upon controlling a country by determining how its people think. And nowadays all it needs is the media, the social media included, to bring down countries if the right strategy is applied. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

We welcome Mahathir’s new party

Salleh Said Keruak

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has finally admitted that the only way to change the government is in a general election. Of course, Mahathir will not admit that he is trying to change the government. He claims he is just trying to remove Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to save Umno, Barisan Nasional and Malaysia.

It is strange that someone would want to save the party that he claims he still loves by trying to destroy it. It is like saying that you want to save humanity by destroying the world.

Anyway, there is no longer any doubt that Mahathir wants to form a new party plus launch a new opposition coalition so that he can defeat Umno and Barisan Nasional in the general election. And I personally welcome that move because at least it now makes Mahathir’s stand very clear and prove that he is not trying to save Umno but to defeat Umno.

Sometimes competition is good when it make you aware that unless you buck up and work harder you face the risk of defeat. Countries like Japan and Germany excelled because they had to struggle to survive whereas Empires such as Britain faded away due to rot and complacency. So maybe Mahathir is doing Umno and Barisan Nasional a favour by offering us some competition because competition is always good to see success. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Happy birthday, Dato' Sri

Salleh Said Keruak

Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak was born 63 years ago today on 23rd July 1953. This is his 40th year in politics, which means he has been in politics more than half his life. And no one can deny it has been a very challenging 40 years, especially over the last ten years since 2006 when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad decided he has had enough of retirement and made a comeback to the Malaysian political scene.

Any person would have given up by now rather than endure ten years of constant barraging from Mahathir. At first Mahathir pestered Najib to oust Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and when Najib disagreed, and instead openly expressed support for the Prime Minister, Mahathir attacked him. And then, after Najib took over as Prime Minister three years later, Mahathir continued to attack him on all sorts of issues, the latest, of course, being about 1MDB.

Najib is the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia but probably the first to suffer such harassment from an ex-Prime Minister. Nowhere else in the world does this happen where an ex-Prime Minister demonstrates utter disrespect and contempt for a sitting Prime Minister. And this is not something new but something that Mahathir has been perpetuating over the last ten years and against two Prime Ministers.

Dear Dato’ Sri, there are many Malaysians who support you but just wish to remain silent because they feel it is pointless to argue about something that will never get resolved anyway. These Malaysians have confidence in your leadership and will continue to stand behind you. Keep the faith and rest assured you are not alone. Happy birthday Dato’ Sri, stay brave, and keep fighting because we are there with you.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The action by the United States Department of Justice

Salleh Said Keruak

The announcement by the United States Department of Justice has created quite a bit of confusion basically because while there were some references, the details were not complete. What many appear to have missed is that this is a civil action and not criminal action although this does not mean that later it cannot also extend to criminal action if enough evidence of criminality is procured.

From our understanding the action currently being taken is based on complaints made by a third party or certain people aligned to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who are not actually the aggrieved party. Under US law, however, class action suits are allowed and the complainant can claim locus standi merely by virtue of the fact that he or she is a Malaysian citizen.

The aggrieved party in this case would be 1MDB and the US said it is taking action based on money stolen or illegally transferred from 1MDB. Therefore, if any assets or money are confiscated in the US, then under that money would be returned to 1MDB. The problem here, though, is that 1MDB itself has said it has not lost any money or no money has been stolen from it.

If the US had chosen criminal action then the burden of proof would be on the prosecutor to prove guilt. In this case they have chosen civil action and after freezing or confiscating the assets of the accused, the accused will need to prove that the assets were legally and not illegally acquired. This shifts the burden of proof from the prosecutor to the accused.

History has shown that the US is sometimes too hasty in its decisions or actions and later what it claims is proven incorrect, such as the Iraq WMD case as one example. The fact that yesterday’s Department of Justice press conference spoke about suspicions that need to be further investigated shows that the matter is not yet conclusive and we are yet to know what will be the final outcome. So we need to wait and see what happens although we do know at this stage it has no direct impact on 1MDB.

United States Department of Justice Civil Complaints:

United States Department of Justice Civil Complaints:
Statement by Minister of Communications and Multimedia

21 July 2016

1MDB has been the subject of unprecedented politically-motivated attack, the objective of which was to unseat a democratically-elected head of government.

So many of the allegations, like Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s lie that 42 billion had gone missing, were later proved false – in this case by the bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee.

This means that any claims relating to 1MDB must be treated with caution, follow due legal process and adhere to the principle of innocent until proved guilty. No one should rush to judgment before allegations are proved in court.

The donation to the Prime Minister is a separate matter. After comprehensive investigations by many authorities, it has been confirmed that the funds were a donation from the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia – as stated by the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia on 14th April.

Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Salleh Said Keruak
Minister of Communications and Multimedia

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mahathir's last throw of the dice

Salleh Said Keruak

Many new parties and new coalitions have been formed over the last 65 years since 1951. Some have survived till today while many more have disappeared along the way.

A party or even a coalition is merely a vehicle or a means to an end. What is more important is what they hope to achieve and how they hope to achieve it.

The list of parties and coalitions that have come and gone is so long. It takes more than forming parties and coalitions to win elections.

We shall see what this new party that is going to be formed and the new coalition has to offer Malaysia. Sometimes voters prefer the tried and tested rather than the unknown and uncharted.