Paranoia, pandemonia

Teddy Roosevelts’s ‘gunboat diplomacy’, tweaked in a twisted way against Malaysia for TPPA

In the reality of things, the Americans who are primary advocates of the laissez faire economy has no qualms about using the upper hand, which include strong diplomatic and international political pressures to twist the arm and bulldoze their way around.

Average Malaysians are standing up and making the call that TPPA must benefit Malaysians first.

21 August 2013| last updated at 11:19PM

TPPA must benefit all Malaysians

By B.A Hamzah
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ENSURING BENEFITS: Cabinet directive is a reminder to International Trade and Industry Ministry to be sensitive to people’s needs

KUDOS to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for taking pre-emptive measures on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

The cabinet’s decision is a soft reminder to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) to be more sensitive to the aspirations of the people.

Miti is accountable to the cabinet, which in turn is answerable to the people.

The cabinet has set the litmus test for Malaysia joining TPPA: favourable terms for those affected by the treaty.

The ball is now back in Miti’s court, which must make sure TPPA benefits Malaysians.

It would have been a different narrative if, for example, Miti negotiators were to first consult some experts in trade policy and the affected parties before taking on the “big boys” — five of the TPPA members have gross national product per capita above US$40,000 (RM131,820) compared with US$12,000 for Brazil and US$5,000 plus for Malaysia.

One trade expert that Miti should consult is Cambridge-educated and former Universiti Sains Malaysia colleague Martin Khor.

Had Miti held its belated “open house” much earlier and long before former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and others criticised TPPA, Miti would not have gone through this soul searching process. A few of us were among those concerned with Miti’s defensive style, which inevitably dented its credibility.

Members of the public are not privy to the negotiations. While we put our trust in Miti, we also expect it to do rigorous homework. Now, we know that a comprehensive study has not been completed and that no cost-benefit study in two critical areas was conducted.

We can only hope that the results of these studies will be made public as the people have every right to know what is in store for them.

Whether the Miti open house on Aug 1 was an afterthought or otherwise, the session was a welcome opportunity to “exchange” views.

Unfortunately, the forum turned out to be an unusual exercise in public relations. At the session, Miti merely restated its position that everything was above board. Of course, as expected, it promised to bring the expressed concerns for further discussion.

Knowing what we want is half of the picture. Getting what the cabinet has mandated is a challenge our negotiators must live up to.

Will the “big boys” continue to listen to our pleas and woes? Is it not too little too late to renegotiate the terms when the clock has started ticking? What is the fate of millions of Malaysians whose livelihood depends on the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) once the TPPA comes into operation, for example?

Many thousands of poor Malaysians suffering from cancer, AIDS and myeloid leukaemia, who depend on cheaper generic drugs, have reason to smile after the cabinet made a decision that it would not agree to any provision in TPPA that limits access to affordable medicine and healthcare.

Under the TPPA rule on intellectual property rights, only patented drugs are allowed. With regard to this, the Indians are more fortunate following a recent Supreme Court decision that rejected a patent for a cancer drug; the cheaper generic version costs only US$165 and the patented drug US$2,666 a month.

Renegotiating issues like jurisdiction in the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, status of government procurement policies, status of SOEs, policies on financial services, including capital controls, and the impact of intellectual property rights on the cost of medicine and healthcare is, in my view, difficult at this late stage.

The multinationals are using TPPA to rewrite the rules of international trade and financial services. The multinationals are determined to rein in the role of state enterprises and promotion of local small and medium private companies, which they allege have been blocking access to markets in Third World countries.

The role of the state as actor in international relations will likely be eroded under the TPPA trade-imposed regime; the multinational companies have supplanted their role. The fear in some quarters that the state can no longer exercise sovereign immunity over certain trade-related issues is quite justified.

With the multinationals in the driver’s seat, anti-smoking pictures or slogans like “smoking is bad for your lungs”, “second hand smoke kills” or “smoking leads to cancer” will no longer be allowed. Governments can be sued for displaying these slogans!

Read more: TPPA must benefit all Malaysians – Columnist – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/tppa-must-benefit-all-malaysians-1.341088#ixzz2cyMK3DHO

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In the interest of their business community and capitalists, the Americans via the official representatives are not shy to throw their weight around. Then, it was about how they build a series of ‘economic hitmen’ where economic power is used to do ‘subversive operations’, designed to overpower the politics and government.

Perkins said it best, via his bestselling confession in paperback.

John Perkins’s best seller

Now, they are blatant into another phase where they are even willing to ‘bully’ their so-called ‘trade partners’ in the name of achieving their strategic objective. Their dominance via earlier gun-boat diplomacies are merely tweaked, to achieve the same desired results.

The father of modernisation, high technology and heavy industries and Malaysia Inc. policy Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad explained it best. In Malaysia, economy is used as a tool to address social imbalance, which is the most important key to political and social stability and harmony.

“There is a national objective to be met. We have a domestic problem and we have to solve this problem. They don’t care. Anyone who talks about the New Economic Policy (NEP) is labelled racist by our officials. When the currency rogues attacked us the purpose was to gain control over our economy. We resisted that because we were still free then. But after we sign the TPP we will be bound hand and foot. No more capital control. We will be colonised again. President Sukarno was right about neo-colonialism”.

Political and social stability in turn is a very important basis, coupled with careful strategic planning and catalyst created by the Federal Government, where economic activities are churned and propelled the nation forward. This promoted more commercial activities and entrepreneurism. As such, foreign firms started to be based and operate in Malaysia and capitalize in the opportunities created and made available in the rapid economic growth the past 40 years.

The balance of trade between trading partners should be resolved on mutual issues instead of a blanket-economic-policy-that-fit-all. The non trade barriers such as safety, standards and special regulatory guidelines to strike the imbalance of imports. Obviously, there would be differentiation of rights and what is worse, they would be no recourse.

American corporations needed to have the right tool to ensure their economic dominance is maintained in the region. TPPA In not so many words, TPPA is a tool for the Americans to dominate the geo-politics of the region.

The Federal Government via Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) says the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that Malaysia is a party in the series of negotiations, coming to the 18th round, will not be detrimental to the national interests. This supposedly include the strategic interests of Malaysian business community.

In reality, it is not. In fact, it is far from what has transpired so far and the direction that the nation, be it diplomatic, trade, strategic economic economic planning and even tactical issues like business opportunities, is heading.

TPPA is about feeding the greedy

TPPA is about feeding the greedy

In June, one of the concerned GLCs proactively organised a special briefing and discourse for Bumiputera technology-based entrepreneurs. The objective is to create awareness to the TPPA and how it will affect these Bumiputera businesses. About 80 entrepreneurs or their representatives interested to attend.

A few hours before the program started, an officer with the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur called and expressed their intention to attend.

This is the excerpt of the conversation:

“We would like to send our officers to attend”

“Are they Bumiputera?”

“No”.

“Then I am afraid you can’t. This program is only for Bumiputera entrepreneurs”.

“We have a grave concern on the subject (TPPA). We want to be represented if you are talking about the TPPA. It should be a G-to-G matter. We shall report this to the White House and MITI”.

****************

The glaring point here is that MITI did not make the call. An officer of the economic section (presumably) of the United States Embassy in Jalan Tun Razak did. TPPA is a matter for MITI to engage local stakeholders, not a diplomatic representative of the Department of State.

So there you go. Either the Department of State is still practicing the ‘gunboat diplomacy’ with a twisted tweaked approach and their representatives here do not realise that we are a sovereign nation and Malaysians are not and were never subservient to the Americans in any way.

The latest American geo-political tool

The latest American geo-political tool

So many already doubted the competency, professionalism and ulterior motives of officials  who are forming all the ‘battle-plans’ and executing all the engagement for the TPPA negotiations. That is not withstanding the amount of information that they are addressing, with reference to the context and perspective that they are being raised.

TPPA was never transparent. The Americans expect Malaysians especially the government, to be transparent about all business dealings with the private sector and award of contracts and concessions. However, they never practiced the same. Even in the different rounds of TPPA negotiations. According to Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, 26 chapters of the TPPA was done in total secrecy.

In the realism of situation and slowly snowballing, TPPA is compounding the digression of support and thinning of confidence towards Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s leadership. Even amongst the staunch BN and government supporters.

Needless to say, TPPA is already creating the ‘political pandemonium’ where the Federal Government via MITI has not able to address majority of not all the issues raised. The United States’ paranoia on it, is a definite push factor for Prime Minister Najib’s leadership, on the downside trending.

*Updated 1900hrs

Published in: on August 25, 2013 at 16:30  Comments (41)  

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  1. Heard American got things their way when it was MacKinsey that determined the Bumiputera policy and reduced the Bumiputera demand to only a monitoring agency called Teraju.

  2. It is so very important that those who are involved in public affairs especially the Civil servants to remember about Sovereignty, National Interest and Self-esteem because in our comfy mind-set as provided for us by the BN as led by the UMNO with the 13 component parties since 1957, we tend to forget what is what after an exciting round of golf and begin to sell our hapless grandmothers down river.

  3. I doubt if MITI did the negotiations without getting the mandate from the Cabinet at every step of the way. So, dont be too hasty in giving credit or kudos to anyone. Officials dont simply negotiate without mandate from the executive body. Anyway, TPPA is a typical creature created by economic neoliberalism where it transcends more than free market. It is like a 500lbs gorilla which will sit on small creatures because it is strong and powerful and will use every ounce or gram of its muscles to dictate its environment. We know who the gorilla is. Indeed TTPA is intended to create little satellites around the US in trade and economics, perhaps to the US as a counterbalance to the rising China in the Asia Pacific region. The US for more than a decade was busy fighting war on 2 fronts i.e Afghanistan and Iraq. It has now come back to re focus attention in the Asia Pacific only to see that China has risen economically and is modernising its military which include land, air and sea. So, the US shivered in its pants lest it would lose its hegemonic power in Asia Pacific region. It has enhanced military presence in North Australia. It has strong military ties with Singapore. TPPA is the economic way to make great inroads and presence in the economies of its members including Malaysia premised on the economic neoliberalism as an ideology, tool, method and a force.

    • And economic neoliberalism has created wide gaps between the rich corporates and ordinary workers in terms of wealth, income and std of living. It has been widely criticised by people in the US and Europe. When applied across the globe, economic neoliberalism will give rise to unfettered free market with national governments losing control of the ability to decide and formulate policies and susceptible to the dictates of more powerful and larger economies. It has been ‘rumoured’ that as a party to TPPA, foreign corporations can sue national governments if they are discriminated in terms of contracts, procurements and projects. It is a form of neo economic colonisation. Too bad, that in a haste to become wannabe liberal, Malaysia now finds itself in a quagmire of poor leadership decisions to be a party to TPPA as evident in its participation in negotiations. For those who already know about the downside of economic neoliberalism, already know the consequences of tinkering with its ideology, process, method and force. Once encapsulated through an agreement it’d be pacta sunt servanda on Malaysia i.e legally binding. But of course TPPA has not reached that stage yet, but what is the govt going to do now?

  4. kalau tak joint tppa tak boleh ke? mati tak makan ke? kebulur?

  5. Apa yang kita berharap sangat :-

    1. Keputusan PM Najib kali ini biar senada dengan kehendak majoriti rakyat Malaysia ( Melayu). Malaysia perlukan satu jangka masa untuk pembangunan mapan perniagaan bumiputera. Di waktu ini kita sedang menempuh peringkat kesedaran, menceburi bidang-bidang biasa dan segelintir bidang teknologi tinggi. Lain nya dalam skala besar masih memerlukan sokongan kerajaan.

    2. Begitu juga kepada bukan bumi, dasar dan sokongan kerajaan sehingga ke saat ini telah memakmurkan ekonomi Malaysia secara menyeluruh. Sebahagian yang sudah berjaya dan tersenarai terkaya Malaysia, sememang nya di sokong penuh kerajaan. Sebahagian nya di benar beroperasi secara monopoli.

    3. TPPA dengan beberapa perkara menjadi rahsia bukan berita baik untuk para peniaga. Bukan juga perkara baik untuk masa depan Negara. Keresahan dan pengalaman negara lain perlu di ambil kira. Pengalaman Tun M tidak boleh di kirai begitu sahaja.

    4. Biarlah kita dalam acuan sendiri. Biar kita menawarkan insentif- insentif perniagaan dalam dan luar negara yang menguntungkan kedua -dua pihak, sebagai Negara yang berwibawa. Prasarana kelas satu dengan gandingan modal cair yang besar. Biar kita gandakan pemain-pemain hebat berserta pakar-pakar ekonomi yang boleh menganalisa dengan statistik yang tepat.

    5. Bukan hanya bumiputera, malah bukan bumi juga mesti di lindungi. Dasar ” bailout” yang di terajui Tun M juga menjadi ikutan. Jika kita senaraikan kembali pada mula dasar DEB di perkenalkan, kita pasti mendapat dan membuat keputusan yang memberansangkan untuk masa depan yang lebih cerah.

    6. Malaysia masih mencari platfom kestabilan. Amerika satu negara maju yang dewasa ini mencari keselesaan untuk pemulihan ekonomi nya yang runtuh. Asia ibarat harimau yang bangun dari tidur. Jika TPPA tidak memihak dan menjaga kepentingan ekonomi Amerika, maka kuasa dunia mereka akan di sergah kehancuran. Agenda neo- colonialism akan terkubur.

  6. Bro BD, had it not been strong concerns expressed by various quarters yourself included, i doubt very much Cabinet would’ve issued any statement. any rate, i find it rather bizarre that cabinet had to remind our negotiators to ensure TPPA benefits our citizens. isnt it a matter of course that our trade policies and treaties or whatever policy for that matter shud operate to our advantage?

    • If cabinet had to remind our negotiators to ensure TPPA benefits our citizens, it is merely political grandstanding Najib does to the public.

      It may also be a reflection of his becoming sensitive to a lot of criticisms levelled on his policies prior to and post-Chinese tsunami.

      Many have been asking the UMNO voting members (150,000, he announced) to have him replaced by a strong and courageous leader who will protect and promote Malay rights and interests to the fullest..

  7. Sir, our officials involved with tppa, the cabinet included, shud be very careful. any agreement which impacts us negatively may tantamount to a dereliction of duty. The penalty being…

  8. BD,

    Your lengthy analysis plus trying to justify your idol’s opposition towards TPPA/globalisation/new world order etcetra, etcetra, etcetra is pure meaningkess IF you dare not mention the fundamental mitigating point; PM Najib is hero-worshipping the Americans.

    Just look at him. Probably anglophiled from the day his nationalist father enrolled him in the British upper middle class education system; the Malvern public school.

    His fascination for the Americans is nothing new.

    Remember, when Najib the Felinist was the Defence Minister, RMAF decided to purchase F/A18Ds from then McDonnell Douglas. It was at the 2nd LIMA.

    He appointed his most trusted political ally JJ to Washington D.C., with ministerial status. Omar Ong was an Eisenhower fellow. He even appointed former NST correspondent to the Big Apple Zainul Arifin Isa as the GEIC as Kalimullah’s faction were out on their ears in the streets.

    Let’s not conveniently forget Najib the Felinist of late is an Obama worshipper. He is so hard up to meet and be seen with Mr-Saya-Balik-Kampung-Nih, whenever the opportunity arises.

    See how excited he is today to recieve US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel. Probably not nauseating enough demonstration of giddy-like-a-school-boy trait like ‘cousin-brother’.

    Hagel’s announcement of “USD90m in training aid for Malaysia” probably is like Christmas came early for Hishamuddin.

    Its irony how these two worship the American Minister of War, who will move the US Mediterranean & Arab Sea fleets closer to Syria and just waiting for the right moment to start bombing, where as BD’s idol and his ‘crimimalising war’ lot are still very much going the either way.

    There is a glaring complete adversarial stance here.

    Back to the TPPA issue. Three of the four founding ‘partners’ of TPPA are believed to be the American proxies. The single one is far too stupid to have an economic position. They are just simply Singaporeans by another form.

    Just watch what Najib the Felinist will announce during Obama’s visit next month. I’m willing to bet, it would be a global liberalist ‘selling away’ Malay rights kinda commitment to the ‘economic and political reform agenda’ which he conveniently brand as, ‘Transformation’.

    The platform has been set. Look how Malaysian Insider hv been regenerated, Red Berry Group’s The Malay Mail is filled by TMI’s old editorial and a new news portal would pop up soon.

    And what is interesting, his justification to the 3,000 odd UMNO delegates in Dewan Merdeka in December.

    Make no mistake about that!

    • That is an accurate observation. Najib is enamoured with the US and positions himself as a liberal or wannabe liberal and plays with the liberal big boys, thinking that, that is the only direction and answer for Malaysia’s way forward. Dont know if he is naive, myopic or overbearing. He should start by looking at Malaysia’s domestic problems and needs first before jumping several hurdles into wanting transformation. Transformation can be done evolvingly not drastically without addressing potholes, vacuum, loose joints, etc first.

      • I agree with this view. But I don’t think he is naive, myopic or overbearing. I think he just wants a legacy of being a liberal PM. Never mind about the Malays that UMNO is supposed to protect and promote since 60 years ago. No need to level the playing field, no need to fuss about the NEP. A nuisance to high-income, developed nation status he is rushing to achieve – even before 2020.

        He thinks UMNO will retain him no matter what. With PEMUDA’s Chief appointed as Minister, his henchmen including with fake degrees entrenched in huge corporate top positions. And with WANITA’s Chief only days ago appointed as Adviser on Women Affairs in PMO, never mind the current Minister of Women Affairs not likely to be accepting her advice.

        He really gets endeared on being called Ah Jib Gor. I think if he brings Malaysia into China’s orbit, he will be given the title Emperor Ah Jib Gor. Woe betide the fate of you Malays (I’m one) long called lazy, corrupt and useless by the proponents of the title Ah Jib Gor.

    • Interesting to watch as to how Malaysia would react should the US start using force on Syria. Assad maybe a Shiite, but his removal will be a victory for Israel and the US, since Assad and Syria have been among the toughest Arab leaders /state opposing Israel.

    • Interesting analysis.

      Let me add its no longer a secret Dr M is not happy with Najib. By so many counts.

      Malay issues should be top on the list. Very few like minded Malays are convinced Najib is doing enough for the Malays. Dr M throwing strong open support for Perkasa is to spite Najib in the face!

      What is worse, Najib is giving the Non Malays too much face, at the expense of the Malays!

      Omar Ong, Pemandu Vs EPU/ICU, Nazir Razak, Nazri Aziz, Sharizat.

      Then when 13GE came, All The candidates issues.

      Right after that, they formed RCI and allowed everyone to speak freely. No basis. It ended as a platform to demonize the Old Man.

      Now its the Malays who are probably more confuse on so many issues. Now, no one is in charge. Dr M simply avoiding a political blood bath if he support another round of top leadership challenge. It is not like he actually wants Najib there.

  9. To the extent that the TPPA may be “the pivot” for US presence in this region vis-a-vis communist China (however non-communist they may now be), and may help us in the event of any conflict with China, I support it. China has been flexing its muscle in connection with claims to territories in the South China Sea, against us and other SEAsian nations, as well as against Japan.

    I trust the US better than the mainland Chinese, especially considering the Chinese tsunami where even the traditional BN supporters went along with DAP at PRU13. I have no doubt that the DAP and their kind will become Fifth Columnists in this country in the event of any conflict with China. They have the Min Yuens and the subversives in their midst, heck, Lim Kit Siang even openly called for the unrepentant and non-remorseful communist terrorist leader Chin Peng be allowed to enter this country.

    What needs to be done is to ensure that we get the best deals out of the trade arrangement and not allow anything that is against our national interest.

    After meeting US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel in Putrajaya yesterday, Defence Minister Hishamuddin said US and Malaysia are looking to expand its defence collaboration in various areas including regional and international security, trading, military technologies and exchanging information.

    I agree with his statement, “With the strategic and unfolding landscape, it is important for us to have friends that appreciate our concern, with the ability to cooperate and share with us at many levels.”

    Hagel said the United States would also conduct more than 75 activities with the Malaysian armed forces this year, including military exchanges and visits, designed to boost capabilities and help the armed forces become more professional and flexible.

    As far as those go, I believe it’s a win-win relationship. I don’t see how it can be bad for Malaysia. If one talks about the country becoming the front line in any US-China conflict, that may be a fallacy, as these days the front line is actually in outer space – ICBMs and satellites that help guide the missiles.

    • I take a sceptical look at Hishamuddin’s statement concerning “changing landscape and having friends that understand our concern.” In international relations there is no permanent friends , only permanent interests. It is also naive to evaluate a changing landscape in haste as the landscape is never permanent but fleeting. Also a landscape can be created and changed by powerful nations to make it believable so that gullible countries would follow the dance of the Puppet Master.

      • Yes, the trend has been that since time immemorial and since the story of the Trojan Horse. We know that even Britain is no longer an Empire and has been carrying the American balls for so long. Without the Americans, the Britain might have been a satellite state of Hitlerian Germany.

        One concern about the US is the presence of the Jewish Lobby, having “unmatched power,” said the Harvard Professor John Mersheimer in one essay written jointly with one Professor of Chicago University. The Neocons, Jews and Zionists succeeded in goading the stupid George W Bush to bomb Iraq on the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction that were never found.

        But there is the Jew of the East – 1.2 billion of them in China. Bullied, invaded, conquered and ruled by foreign powers for hundreds of years, the Manchus until the 20th Century. And now, as the second most powerful economy in the world, many among them must be yearning for payback time. Especially on the Japanese who bullied them even before World War II, and Japan has a war-renouncing Constitution, “volunteered” by the Japanese to Gen MacArthur, representing the victors of World War II.

        They appear to be flexing their muscles, they have had nuclear weapons since Mao Zedong’s time, now sending men into orbit, perfecting their missile delivery system and all. Their Ambassador to US only recently told CNN that they are not a Super Power and consider themselves as a developing nation, like us, kononnya. One expert guessed that they will achieve a Super Power status in 2 decades or so.

        But they are putting out on a trial run a huge aircraft carrier they built themselves and will soon have a fleet of them plying international waters with loads of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles controlled by satellites already quietly sent into orbit. Can we trust the Asean Regional Forum’s ability to restrain a menacing Jew of the East? The kind that in Malaysia could’t care a damn about respect for others, threw the Sedition Act aside and caused the race riots of 1969? The kind that caused the Chinese tsunami?

      • China is in the midst of modernising its military including its naval force. Its modernised navy would have the functions of both Corbett and Mahanian. Though it is not yet a blue water navy like the US, it is going in that direction and why not if it has the money to do it. China’s modernised navy has its merit mainly to protect its maritime trading routes upon which its economy survives. I don’t see China as a threat but a counterbalance to another hegemony which is the US. China values how Msia established diplomatic relations with it in 1974 whilst many non communists countries wouldn’t even look at China and were staunch supporters of the West. China always remembers this bit of olive brunch by Msia. It is up to the wisdom, good sense and strategy to prevail in the minds of the current leaders not to put all eggs in one basket. It is best to play both sides and both fields – i.e China and the US at the same time.

      • Whether China is a threat or not is difficult to say without having access to intelligence and other forms of information from both overt and covert sources, plus all kinds of analysis technical and otherwise, that a country like US has.

        For example, I read that they knew the communist Chinese exploded nuclear devices at Lop Nor during Mao Zedong’s time by analysing dust collected from the gloves of the odd 1-2 Nanyang Chinese visiting dead or terminally ill relatives in the interior of the huge land mass that is China, some distance away from the test site. Such intelligence may be obtained from a league member who has such a huge technical capability for determining a threat etc.

        China’s modern history has been so marred by communism and the secrecy they practice in their daily activities that I cannot recall offhand their treachery to friends but their ancient history is full of that.

        But one important and unforgettable recent treachery to our country was their support of the Malayan Communist Party under the terrorist Chin Peng. It was a terrible period of hardship they caused us for decades. In fact, when Tun Razak sent a trade mission to explore the thinking of Chinese leaders, and when diplomatic relations was established in 1974, the period of Emergency and night time curfews in “Black areas” was still on. I had problems getting to my kebun durian located in a Black area until the Haadyai Accord and the Emergency period ceased in the 1980s.

        I have a problem on that statement “China always remembers this bit of olive brunch by Msia.” The Malays have been described as lazy, the German Nazis etc as racist, the Chinese as ultra kiasu, like many in Malaysia and a vast number in mainland China. Foreign policies are always dictated by national interest and one wonders if, despite the periodic proclamations, China would not consider the 23% Chinese in Malaysia as a part of their national interest under certain situations.

        I think I’m not far fetched in thinking that Malaysia even supports the Bosnians fighting the Serbs in more ways than one during the Bosnian war, just on the basis of religion, nothing to do with racial affinity. So, I have a problem also with the advice of “playing one hegemony against the other” for we are but a small fry of 56 years old and 28 million people of diverse origins, trying to grow up with multifarious unity problems, many claiming to be citizens but do not even respect the Constitution, let alone show loyalty and patriotism to this country.

  10. Supporting the hegemony be it China or the US in Asia Pacific is never a good idea. The region will have to pay the price and cost of aligning with either one. That’s why there is the ASEAN Regional Forum that deals with security issues of this region. The US and China are members. ARF pitches against the China-US ambition in this region with ASEAN at the driver’s seat and those 2 have to court ASEAN. The TPPA however is an economic cloak for the US to have unfettered access into the economies of member countries, and it can sue national govts if it can’t get a piece or many pieces of the economic cake. It is far better for Msia to play both fields with China and US.

  11. Does Malaysia have a choice?

    Realistically speaking, can it go it alone?

    Can domestic institutions pony up the investments and secure the skills to generate good jobs for all Malaysians?

    Levelling the playing field is good in theory. And you might just be able to swing it if you are holding a bunch of trump cards and have the economic muscle to make your views heard.

    What trump cards is Malaysia holding?

    • some trump cards:

      1) skilled workforce
      2) cost competitiveness
      3) IP protection
      4) cultural diversity that opens doors to china, india, indon, mid-east
      5) a trading nation since 1400’s
      6) many more

      i think we are NOT trying to do it ‘alone’ – as you said it.

      not signing the TPPA does not mean we are setting up barriers or closing our doors to trade. this is a rubbish assumption.

      fair trade, not free trade. remember that.

      • So we will rely on the WTO and the yet-to-be-concluded Doha round to get a fair bite of the pie?

        If that’s the case, why have we gone into bilateral FTAs?

        Why are we supporting Asean negotiating a FTA with the EU?

        If the TPPA does get done and ratified, and if Malaysia isn’t part of it, will it still get it’s “fair share” of investments and trade?

        Or will the members of the TPPA club get the best and choicest pickings, leaving the crumbs for everyone else?

      • trade, like water, finds its own level.

        we get our fundamentals right (efficient infra, good laws, good communications, speak well, play fair, build trust, good workforce, excellent education, have a desire to succeed, open mind sets, leverage on natural competitiveness etc etc), business and trade shall come.

        no trade agreement can entice a company to invest anywhere if the fundamentals of business are missing.

        we should know by now.

      • The Gooberman fler won’t know, he’s a Singaporean, always trying to project Spore’s and LKY’s image.

        He won’t blog in Spore blogs fearing he’d say things that’ll land him problems with “Big Brother on the Wall” in Spore.

      • Wow, Haba – I am touched by your concern. How very kind of you.

        But how do you know that I am not a Malaysian? Or an expat sitting somewhere and posting through proxy servers?

        Why don’t you pick up my points about the WTO, the Doha Round and the FTAs that Malaysia and Asean have entered into?

        If you think that they are bad for the country and it’s socio-economic objectives, then man up and say so unequivocally.

        Instead of casting stones at the TPPA negotiations, and, down the road, at other pan-Asian FTA negotiations.

        It always amazes at the naïveté that some Malaysians have – that the world will always want to trade with Malaysia, and that our vast domestic market is an irresistible lure for MNCs and countries.

        If that were the case, we wouldn’t need FTAs, MIDA or MITI, would we?

      • Cack

        Exactly right.

        You might want to read the comments by David Adelman. He is retiring as the US Ambassador to Singapore.

  12. Now imagine a malaysia, where in the future, tun m is a mere memory.
    Who is going to pave the way for the line to be lead? The old man even in this time, is still a power broker.

    Thank you for keeping my welfare in mind.

  13. ARF is always grossly under rated by those who think of security dilemma in terms of military strength. ARF focuses on confidence building and conflict prevention. It is neither a security regime nor a concert but a pretty effective way of ‘playing off ‘ the US and China into utilising dialogue and security cooperation instead of confrontation. It is usually the presence of hard line advisers outside of the ARF who like to throw the spanner into the works preferring the military way to address security dilemma.

  14. The University of Cambridge does not train economists.

  15. Perhaps the problem is the lack of tangible proof of ARF effectiveness.

    British PM Neville Chamberlain claimed his policy of appeasement had stopped Hitler from starting war. But Hitler must have laughed at Neville heartily because the records showed that he used the time gained for preparing the invasion of Poland and Chechoslovakia.

    And when war started, old Winston Churchill was left askance having to fight the Germans alone, the Americans refusing to help at first.

    The military way to address security dilemma is really aligning yourself with the right crowd so that the likes of Hitler won’t be laughing heartily if and when, at the 11th hour, one finds one can’t play the big guys off against one another any more.

    We also need to recognize that the big guys can play us off better – they simply have much greater resources than we do.

    Even the Arabs with a lot of resources got whacked by the Israelis in a war that brought the Arabs to their knees in a mere 6 days in 1967.

    Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean we should get bullied by the big guy(s) that we may align ourselves with. That’s strategy. Also called diplomacy. How effective – ask Pak Lah. We lost Pulau Batu Putih etc.

    • Well..people talk much about the Chamberlain appeasement of Hitler and Germany without looking at other circumstances surrounding Germany’s invasion of Poland. There was already a power transition in Europe, and Germany was in its ascending power at the time of the Munich negotiation between Germany and Britain/France. USSR was dropped from the negotiations at the behest of Germany leaving just Britain and France to face Hitler. The balance of power was further altered in favour of Germany. Germany’s ascending power was ripe for Germany to exercise its power and territory through military means i.e war. Power transitiom in the past had always been acted out on battlefields. Appeasement was what Britain and France believed happened. But they overlooked on the power parity and power transition that had occured in Europe in favour of Germany. Britain and France leaders didnt do a good job at reading situations.

      There is now a transition of power occuring between US and China, which I mentioned earlier would create a tussle for hegemony in Asia Pacific. ARF is an entity which includes both US and China as members with ASEAN in the driver’s seat. ARF is largely diplomacy -based where cooperation on security and non traditional security threats. The very nature of it being not a military bloc is testament to it being a confidence building entity to prevent conflict. The DOC on South China Sea and the current talks on establishing a Code of Conduct is an effort at legalistic approach to bind ARF members into cooperative conflict resolution as opposed to war.

      It is up to individuals to read into the China now and China before the lifting of the iron curtain. As the second largest economy in the world, much of its economic interests globally will be at stake should it decide to be belligerent. Would it at the expense of global economic boycott of its economy, afford to be belligerent? That is why the cognizance of its military power by others is tempered with efforts at bringing China closer to the fold of international community through diplomacy and making it more interdependent economically and security wise with this region and globally.

      It is better for Malaysia not to align to either US or China but to take the middle ground at bilateral level and seek regional security through regional and international institutions. Malaysia is not even a small power in the Ken Organski power pyramid, so it must diversify its relations with all except Israel.

      • Why make an exception of Israel?

        If China and India have excellent diplomatic relations with Israel, and if they have good trade ties and military linkages with that country, then it’s pretty much game over, isn’t it?

        Look at the Asia-Pacific region. How many countries have diplomatic, trade and defence relationships with Israel?

        Sure, we can stand on principle and say that we want to have nothing to do with Israel. As a sovereign state, that’s our prerogative.

        But the strategic calculus for the Asia-Pacific is being redone.

        And if Malaysia doesn’t have a seat at this table, then it’s also game over.

      • So, why do you think Israel is made the exception? Obviously you have no grasp of Malaysia’s foreign policy. The absence of diplomatic ties with Israel is to you a bad strategic calculus? Tell us about it.

        Seating around the table of TPPA says nothing about how much Malaysia stands to lose or gain. Game over if Malaysia becomes the satellite of the US economic political hegemony. And who says negotiations result in a good agreement?

      • Well, we’ve moved away from a discussion of the TPPA to analyses of the geo-political situation in the region.

        Who was it who said that trade and security go together?

        And, somehow, the issue of Israel got pulled in.

        Afaik, Israel is not part of the TPPA. Nor is China or India.

        The US will deal with China and India over the heads of every other country in the region. Even Japan, South Korea or Australia. That’s the stark reality.

        And I think that’s what Goob meant when he or she wrote about the strategic calculus being redone.

        Does Malaysia throw in it’s lot with the US, tilt towards China or maintain a studied neutrality?

        Alas, Malaysia isn’t in the same position as Switzerland!

        Oh, by the way, does Malaysia have a foreign policy?

      • As a matter of interest, how should we react if a PLA aircraft carrier battle group asks if it could make a port call in Malaysia?

        If we can host the US Navy, this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

      • The stark reality is that the US has no longer the clout to deal with China in any other manner except as equals. The absence of China in TPPA has raised eyebrows about the US agenda. Australia PM has already sounded on the need to have China onboard TPPA which signals 1) the discomfort over the US dominance and 2) the importance of China to the economies of Asia Pacific rim. It’d be interesting to see which other country or countries will call for China to be in the TTPA, and how the US will react to this call.

        Pl note that there is a close link between security and the economy. A secured region with no major conflict and tension will enable resources to be deployed and utilised for economic purposes instead of military purposes.

  16. Kaladin. In 1957, the KGB came to town and looked high and low for Malaya’s Foreign Policy. They could not find it and left town after they assumed it was hidden away securely. The Russian Ambassador later asked the Tunku about this elusive Foreign Policy. He replied that we do not have one !

  17. Uncle Sam will understand that we do not want the full frontal treatment via the TPPA because we were given a real thorough posterior one by Singapore via the 1962 Water Agreement which made us pays to give free water to Singapore in 2013 !

    Once bitten, twice shy !

    • Ouch!

      I thought we are selling raw water to Singapore and buying back treated water from the city-state?

      Aren’t we?

      Actually, there are/were 2 Water Supply Agreements with Singapore. If I am not mistaken, one has already lapsed, and the Singapore PUB-owned Gunung Pulai water treatment plant in Johor has been handed back in good working order to the Johor State Government.

      Successive state governments in Johor have never complained about the water supply agreements in Singapore.

      So, why create canards now?

  18. Lest we forget ! Not only were we saddled with the infamous 1962 Water Agreement with Singapore which in 2013, our beloved Malaysia pays to give free water to Singapore, it was alleged that the MITI bungled with the Indian Palm Oil Tariff negotiations in the 1980s. And now is the TPPA going to take the cake by finishing off the BN as led by UMNO with the 13 component parties and the Malays, the Bumiputras, the Chinese, the Indians and all as well ? Are we a Nation of masochists who love self-torture and pain ?


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