Laman Webantu   KM2A1: 2167 File Size: 5.3 Kb *

The Foreign Minister Attacks - MGG Pillai
By web aNtu

20/12/1999 1:42 am Mon

The Foreign Minister Attacks Foreign Diplomats Overseas

The Malaysian foreign minister, Dato' Syed Hamid Albar, continues to accuse diplomats from Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States for interfering in local politics. He alleges, without proof, their involvement in Malaysian politics, insisting their involvement in "more than information-gathering". They were targetted 15 months ago for their alleged closeness to He Who Must Be Destroyed At All Cost. His attacks, following upon the Prime Minister's, are to build up a case of foreign collusion in Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim's continuing confrontation with the Prime Minister. The mainstream media built up a case with no evidence other than the Prime Minister's say so. Dato' Seri Anwar's Institute of Policy Studies is attacked for attracting foreign funds in seminars and conferences the Prime Minister attended with glee; but the government-backed Institute of Strategis and International Studies (ISIS), to which these self-same four countries contribute for its seminars, is not. The speakers' list of ISIS conferences provide clues even a blind man can see on which country provided the funding.

But Dato' Syed Hamid's outpourings are more insidious. At play here is the inbuilt Malay cultural xenophobia which makes such allegations damaging to those attacked. During the 1969 general elections, Singapore was the target, with the charge d'affaires accused of interfering in local politics when an MCA MP the then president, Tun Tan Siew Sin, wanted defeated would not stay defeated. Singapore's first third party diplomatic note since its independence four years earlier was issued. Foreign interference was another issue UMNO and the National Front to destroy Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's revolt in the mid-1980s. At one time, this xenophobia reflected in Sinophobia, though this was not as sharply etched then as now; indeed that has receded into the past since the New Economic Policy and the subsequent political castration of the Chinese community. The Penang imbroglio after the recent general elections is yet another proof of that. So, when the Prime Minister and other Malay politicians accuse foreign countries or foreign entities of interference it is an indication on how serious the problem is internally. Dato' Hamid is just the barking dog of that view. The only problem is the Malay world view believes He Who Must Be Destroyed At All Cost is unfairly wronged. If he continues in this vein, do not be surprised if someone decides to throw a stick at the barking dog.

Otherwise, if Dato' Syed Hamid believed in what he told the Singapore Straits Times yesterday, and meant what he said, Wisma Putra would have indentified the diplomats, read the riot act to high commissioners and amba#sador involved, declared the diplomats persona non grata. Instead, he tries to build up a case for UMNO's bad showing in the general elections. The specific allegation that these high commissions and emba#sy provided financial aid and support to the opposition is merely that: an allegation. If he had the evidence, the mainstream media would have gone to town with it by now, and the diplomats concerned expelled. Dato' Syed Hamid insists that "everyone" knows about the "intelligence side of the diplomatic corps": "We do know what they do and how they move. We know that a lot of these emba#sies have been writing very negative reports about us." He makes it sound as if the Vienna Convention makes it duty bound for diplomats accredited to Malaysia to make no a#sessment other than what government ministers, the mainstream media, and official statements reveal.

Several questions arise: Is the foreign minister admitted that it is involved in espionage activities to know what they write? Is this how Malaysian diplomats report to Wisma Putra of foreign countries they are based in? Is a foreign diplomat disallowed from finding out for himself what the opposition is doing? Would he consider it "more than information gathering" if a diplomat had gone to Kelantan and Trengganu before the general elections and reported of UMNO's impending defeat there? Now, if Dato' Syed Hamid has the evidence of skullduggery by any of these diplomats, he should declare them persona non grata or recall the ranking Malaysian diplomat in the other country. Otherwise, he should shut up, and get on with repairing the damaged political ties that he, as foreign minister, ensured. The general elections are over. The Prime Minister confidentally marches into millennium. His nemesis returns to court to defend the s###my charges against him. He sits pretty. He says so himself. So, why does Dato' Syed Hamid run around like a shot rabbit, frightened at the mere mention of He Who Must Be Destroyed At All Cost? Does he know something we do not?

M.G.G. Pillai