6 December 1998
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
"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
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 )