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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Remember when the US was accused of interfering?


Salleh Said Keruak

During the years of 1998 to 2003, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was very angry with the United States of America over what he alleged was that superpower’s interference in Malaysian politics. Mahathir was so upset that he called Anwar an American agent -- and in 2003 Anwar sued the NST for reporting that. Mahathir grumbled that when Anwar went to the US he received a 21-gun salute even though he was only the Deputy Prime Minister while, as Prime Minister, Mahathir did not receive the same red carpet treatment. The US then called Anwar a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ and this angered Mahathir even more.

To Mahathir, Malaysia’s politics is Malaysia’s internal affairs and outsiders should not interfere in Malaysia’s internal affairs. In fact, this has been the international practice for a long time. Countries can, of course, comment about the internal affairs of other countries if it involves matters such as human rights, civil liberties, child labour, child sex, genocide, and so on. Other than that you respect the sovereignty of another country.

The problem with the United States Justice Department’s announcement of 15th June 2017, however, plus the first one on 20th July 2016, is that their statement is not confined to the subject matter: which is about an alleged crime committed on US soil. A large part of the DoJ statement talks about what is happening internally in Malaysia, and an even larger part has no relevance to the subject of whether a crime has been committed on US soil as alleged. The main issue here is not the US or the DoJ but that they are quoting from the complaint that they received. So the issue here is who are the parties who lodged that complaint with the US DoJ?

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