6 December 1998

"The American wish and Gore's open incitement to turn our country into a battlefield between ourselves will fail and must fail.

"I told MBA students of New Haven University in New Jersey in early October and Malaysian students at MIT in Boston last July that Mahathir is no dictator and Malaysia isn't Indonesia. Mahathir is not Suharto and our tentera are apolitical; they stay clear of politics and business, unlike their counterparts in Indonesia.

"To Washington, diplomacy is no longer the art of persuasion, accommodation and compromise. It openly threatens to use its awesome economic and military power on any leader and nation who dares oppose it or simply wants to exercise its independence."

"I repeat: Malaysia is not Indonesia, Mahathir is not Habibie."

"Mahathir has to earn his mandate and in my home state of Kelantan, Umno has only ruled a decade since 1959 (our first post-independence general election) and it does seem Umno is going to lose yet again in the next election.

"Malaysia is not a nation where people can't vote or where the ruling partyis assured of victory. Umno or the BN is not Golkar - where winning an el ection is assured. We don't rig elections. Does Gore want us to ignore the constitution just because he wants reformasi and Anwar to take over the government?

"Mahathir, like Gore, must live by the constitution. In our nation there is time for everything, including elections. Mahathir will have to call it sooner of later and the American poodles in Malaysia are encouraged to take part.

"I am fully aware, as I am a realist, that we are vulnerable. Still, not even the US can attempt to impose all its desires in the hostile international environment in which it works and functions. In summer, last year, I addressed this class of your predecessors, and I did warn then that, as a result of the demise of the cold war, the US would be an insufferable bully who would love to devastate and prostrate those who dare oppose its wishes and policies.

"I have no doubt that Washington has the military might and political machinations and economic capability to call the shots through its foreign policy of subversion. Whether Malaysians will allow this to occur is entirelyup to us. I have no doubts, whatsoever, that good, loyal and genuine Malaysians would rather perish than he ruled by Washington through its Malaysian proxies or a lead er who is an American client. We would rather have the devil we know than the angel we don't know.

"Can our, diplomats manage all this? Although the full strength of the Malaysian Foreign Office is only 282 diplomats (excluding support staff), the number is slightly bigger than the size of the US permanent mission at the United Nations; our entire budget for foreign service and and diplomacy is smaller that the State Department's hospitality and entertainment funds.

"We are coping as best as we can. Decreasing wealth, the increase in the number of complicated issues and in the number of bilateral relations, the involvement in multilateral organisations, increased trade, commerce, defence and security interests and other subjects which have been inextricably interwoven into diplomacy and international relations have made us grow rapidly and with confidence. It is a great credit to our diplomats for a job well done despite all the odds stacked against them.

"Wisma Putra's role is our first line of national defence. At times, I must admit it does seem we are limited by internal inertia, but, believe me, like inert chemicals, Wismaputra will not only perform its task acceptably but remarkably and impressively. We did an excellent job during the Indonesian confront ation and we will rise to the occasion again or as long as the people of Malaysia support the government and show their determination and resilience to resist foreign influence and domination.

"It is absolutely imperative we must not let our guard down nor allow our standard of moral or professional to slip. We must fight those who have denounced and dishonoured our nation, foreign puppets and those who have been adopted by white supremacists.

"We want and desire good relations with all nations especially with our close neighbours. We are happy that except for two or three, most of our guests have behaved honourably and very well. Two or three of our guests have spoken against their colleagues who have been boorish, rude and

"Apec .. indeed, has a unique opportunity to show its relevance, firstly by maintaining its commitment to economic matters (to liberalising trade and investment), secondly by being circumspect on the issue of free capital mobility, thirdly, it should help each other, and lastly, eschew politics.

"Nowhere is economic, political, religious and cultural diversity greater than the Asia Pacific region. Nowhere do more people live than in this region. Nowhere is there a great need for a framework or paradigm such as Apec which permits such different peoples and societies to work together for common economic goals.

"Apec is about economic cooperation and not about political domination. When it comes to the system of government, the degree of democracy each of the 21 member nations practises should be left to each his own according to each's special, needs, stages development and political consciousness.

"We have tried our best to equip Malaysians for all kinds of positions in varied professions and disciplines by giving them the ability to manage and cope with rapid change, the capacity to take responsibility and, more importantly, the healthy ambition to do so.

"Our nation is in a great need, and in a hurry of young Malaysians, with not only paper qualifications but be equally important qualities of a fully-rounded Malaysian personality, combining sporting, intellectual, culture and other talents.

"Wismaputra has an urgent need for such qualities. Welcome to the hothouse of tomorrow's diplomats and leaders."

"I was delighted. The students' reaction was stunning. They said Malaysia is not Iraq nor Indonesia. The Americans, they asserted, should instead lecture about democracy and human rights to their allies in the Middle East - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other genuine authoritarian regimes. Gore has waded into dangerous Malaysian waters.

Gore and former US ambassador to Malaysia, John Malott have found that Malaysians are not an easy shot!

(Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad is our Special Envoy to the United States.)

(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Sun )