eye.gif (5286 bytes) Point of VIEW.

A purely analytical perception...


Malaysia
The Japanese banks are at it again – this time in Asia

 

Continued form page 1

 

He stated as follows: “You see, we consider that their experience is different from our experience. We were the subject of the attack. What happened to the rich countries is that the instrument that they used for attacking us got into trouble, and they lost money.” ([1])  Another recent casualty of the Doctor’s regime is Ezam Mohammad Noor, the head of the youth wing of the National Justice Party. He made the horrific mistake of exposing the misdirection of public funds by government officials to private businesses to pay off their debt. The Malaysian Government has put him in limbo by holding him in prison without charge for this terrible act. 

“But many Malaysian lawyers also think the country’s judicial system is badly flawed and subject to political pressures, “Never before has the generally conservative population been confronted with such harsh examples of abuse, incompetence and corruption,” the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee said in a memorandum submitted to the government last month.” ([2]) “He (Ezam) says he was misquoted by the mass-selling Malay-language paper and that he spoke only of planned peaceful protests against alleged corruption and cronyism in Mahathir’s administration. Opposition leaders have complained that the outspoken Ezam, who already faces a battery of other charges, was set up.”[3] Lim Kit Siang, chairman of the Democratic Action Party indicated that the Malaysian police never bother to even check the authenticity of the newspaper story and have made themselves a laughing stock in front of the world.  

For the most part, Justice in Malaysia is not particularly fair or swift. Agence France-Presse on December 7, 2000 had some extremely telling information regarding the Malaysian Court System. They reported the following:  

Malaysian courts had a backlog of almost 700,000 civil and criminal cases as of August including some 488 rape cases, parliament was told Thursday. (By Noh Omar, parliamentary secretary in the Prime Minister’s Department when reporting to the Malaysian Senate.) Last month, a bribery case, which took 16 years to pass through the legal system, was finally dropped because one of the two accused had died. Earlier this year the saga of a sacked policeman who sued for wrongful dismissal but waited 23 years for justice prompted the government to consider setting time limits on settling court cases.”  

Malaysia also created a city without doing any city planning.  The Prime Minister is big on creating projects and then leaving the nuances to a bunch of bumbling, incompetent bureaucrats.  Thus, too many fingers are mucking up the pie, and in the latest catastrophe, a city was built without even the thought of how much water it would need or how that water would be supplied.  It seems that the final say in taking action fell into the hands of the Selangor State Government, the Federal Works Ministry, the Federal Waterworks Department and last but not least, Puncak Naiga.  The New Sunday Times put it best, “...But having all that (the skyscrapers and international events) without first working out how to have a reliable water supply is like donning a designer gown but not bothering to change your dirty knickers (underwear).” It may be that multinational corporations will not be scared off by the smog, and it may be that they will not be bothered by the collapse of Malaysia’s currency, but you sure can’t build a high-tech country in the middle of a desert without water, yet that is where they seem to be headed.  

When multinational corporations identified the Pacific Rim as an exciting place to invest, Malaysia welcomed their money with open arms, but little did these companies realize that the country’s laws were subject to change without notice.  Mohamad created a methodology that has some very interesting aspects to it.  He has banned foreign short selling, guaranteed indigenous investors against loss ($20 billion worth, which represents almost half of Malaysia’s gross domestic product), which had the effect of creating a market with literally two sets of prices, and established a fund to purchase securities and drive them higher.  With one fell swoop, he has assured the world that during his administration the country’s theories will be held up to ridicule and that investing in Malaysia has become subject to caveat emptor.  

The Prime Minister wanted to bring in the multinational corporations, but then went after currency traders who are their life’s blood.  In his first action against foreign currency traders, he charged the much-maligned Credit Lyonnais' Singapore unit of short selling securities, something done just about in every civilized place on earth.   While the potential fine is modest at only $300,000, the attendant jail sentence of 10 years behind bars in a trendy Malaysian jail, where even bread and water is a luxury, is fairly stiff.  Not only would we expect that the guilty securities trader will not be extradited from Singapore, but also we would believe that by taking on one of the largest banks in the world, the Prime Minister has placed another nail in Malaysia's coffin-like future.  

Now, it should be noted that Dr. Mohamad is an academic, not a military man, and he is someone who should know better than to deliberately send the message that Malaysia is not a safe place for foreigners to invest while simultaneously trying to gloom on to their money. This type of action sends confusing actions and is unreasonably counterproductive. In fact, we can only interrupt these actions as from someone who has secret economic information unavailable to the rest of the world, such as the catastrophic effects that additional stock market declines will have on their already underwater bank loans.  

If that wasn’t taking laissez-faire a step or two over the line, the Prime Minister strongly suggest that, the “state pension funds” prop up the market when they went into a tailspin.  This becomes especially difficult to understand when you realize that in Malaysia, companies can print stock at their own discretion and that stock can be hypothecated for loan purposes at the country’s banks.  He is performing the miracle of having his people bailout both the banking and corporate sectors with the use of their own money.  What an unfortunate state of affairs, and in these situations, there is always a piper to be paid; it is only a question of when he will come calling.  

It was seen by foreigners that the steps being taken by the Prime Minister would eventually lead to chaos, but probably after he had left office. The U.S. intelligence community had organized a conference to look into the long-term prospects of Indonesia and the conclusions of that meeting were published in an article in the Far Eastern Economic Review. In a general sense, they seemed to indicate that Malaysia was becoming swamped with debt due to the fact that they were throwing money at troubled companies without restructuring them. Thus, these companies were coming back to the well over and over again. The conference indicated that this would lead to some form of economic chaos in Malaysia in three to five years after Mahathir retired. Naturally, the Prime Minister had some kind words for everyone: “I think that is what they are expecting, they would like. Any country that is stable, they will try to destabilize.” He went on to say that when Western countries bailed out their companies, that was all right, so what was wrong with Malaysia doing the same things? “So it must be good for also because we are copying them.”  

We are convinced that the Doctor’s chauvinism is caused by extreme case of myopia, and thus it is the primary basis for his unconscionable decisions.  Yet, he has not even attempted to explain how these economic machinations will be put into effect, literally an impossibility.  His Castro-like diatribes seem to lay blame on Malaysia's problems on everyone from currency traders, hedge funds, the West and even the Jews who are hardly present in this country at all.  

“U.S. Representative, Gary Ackerman, senior member of the House International Relations Committee today blasted the Prime Minister of Malaysia for making anti-Semitic comments where he blamed the “Jews” for his country’s economic problems. In a letter signed by 17 other Member of Congress; Ackerman demanded that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad issue and immediate retraction and apology or risk damaging U.S. -Malaysian relations. The Prim Minister recently accused “sinister forces” and “a Jewish Agenda” of plotting to topple him and undermine Malaysia’s financial markets, implying that Jews are behind his country’s economic problems and currency crisis. The Prime Minister was quoted as saying that Jews had “an agenda” to undermine the Malaysian economy because they “are not happy to see the Muslims progress.” ([4])  

While Malaysia is definitely a Muslim country, it has several substantial ethnic groups that are also important. The second largest minority is the Chinese who in 1969 entered into literally a civil war with the ethnic Malays. Naturally, the Chinese were brutally carved up but eventually coolly heads prevailed and before irreversible damage had been done. The two sides eventually made peace and the Government has pointed to internal peace between ethnicities ever since. However, a bitter change has been taking place lately concerning Malaysia’s second largest minority, the ethnic Indians.  

Historically they knew their place so that there had been little trouble, but lately, they have also unpleasantly for the Malaysian Government started demanding their rights as well. It seems that the ethnic Indians live in squatter heaven on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and having been showing indications that they wanted better. The Malay’s did not like the fact that the Indian’s were getting uppity and demanding their inherent rights and were looking for an excuse to make trouble. They got their wish in spades when on March 10, 2001, “an Indian who had been attending a funeral accidentally drove into the corner of a tent at a Malay wedding Party. It may have seemed a minor dispute among neighbors in the 100,000-strong Kuala Lumpur community of Taman Medan, but it quickly degenerated in racial rage. Toughs armed with long knives and iron bars rampaged through the neighborhood for four days, attacking Indians at random.” ([5])  

The violence continued as armed attackers beat people to death while the police refused to let anyone come to their aid. And worse yet, there is a Malaysian law that prevents any media dissemination of comments that could incite racially motivated ill-will, could not disclose that this was a totally ethnic hate related incident. And who were these toughs that bore so much hatred for their neighbors? They were the same people that in earlier years, they had gone to school with and had in their homes.  And do not look to see any changes in the highly biased Malaysian political system soon. Mahathir Mohamad wrote a book in 1970 called “The Malay Dilemma” which telegraphed his thinking in the same way Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” did decades earlier. Hitler made it very clear in his book exactly where he stood on racial issues but people did not take him seriously enough. Mahathir did exactly the same thing, a the Chinese and Indians are just now waking up to the fact that they were forewarned and just did not believe it could happen here.  

The attackers have for the most part been Malays carrying machetes and the police had stood by watching the carnage of the uppity Indians. Doctor Mahathir Malaysian Nationalism sadly does not include anyone that is not Malay even if they arrived in the country first and continues to breed revolution with his very words. When the police seemed to have felt that the Indians had been properly put into their place, they stepped in and stopped the fighting. Doctor Mahathir then went into and incantation that he had exposed in public many times before:  

“Here in Malaysia we have people of every different kind of religion. We have Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims - everybody is here but we live at peace with each other. We do not have any religious riots in this country, or racial riots in this country. I don’t see why the rest of the world should have.” ([6])  

Others saw it differently. “After 20 years of Mahathir’s rule, the country seems as deeply divided as ever along racial lines and by social class. A study late last year at the University of Malaya shocked the nation when it revealed that only 10% of students see themselves as Malaysians first. The rest identify themselves as Malays, Chinese or Indians. “ ([7])  

Malaysia has historically had a large contingent of nomadic labor that has migrated from other countries. Their conscripts of choice had been the Indonesians who lived in close proximity to Malaysia. The provided Mahathir a talented labor pool at a price that was too good to turn down. Unfortunately, when the Pacific Rim went into a tailspin, there was not enough work for Malaysian citizens and the Indonesian’s were sent packing. The trouble with this inescapable logic was that the Indonesians just did not want to leave in spite of not being wanted. There was a revolution going in the part of Indonesia that they were from and government troops were killing just about everybody they could find.  

One particularly galling aspect for primarily Muslim Filipino women working as domestics in the homes of Malaysian ethnic Chinese was the fact that they were forced to cook pork by their employers. This was something that they could not stomach and when they disobeyed their masters, more often than not, they would be beaten. Thus, when secretary-general, Jamalludin ahmad Dmanhuri reported that 30,000 foreign maids had fled their jobs in Indonesia in their first three-months of employment, no one was particularly surprised. Many Indonesia officials chalked the massive departure up to so sort of conspiracy.  

A pre-arranged deal of sorts with a foreign maid recruitment agency that would arrange to get them into the country on a visa from a legitimate source and then move them within a short time to a higher paying but illegitimate position. Jamalludin indicated that 175,187 foreign maids were registered with the Immigration Department so that the indication is that approximately one-sixth of all foreign domestic help leaves every three months giving Malaysia a turnover of almost 70% a year.  These people marry, get better jobs and phony identification papers and then blend into the population. It may be that if the Malaysians don’t want to be overrun by Indonesian women, they better stop making them cook pork.     

If that wasn’t enough to make the Indonesians want to stay put, economic conditions in their country were about 100-times worse than those in Malaysia and jobs were just plain, not available. The Government’s heavy-handed approach led to a major confrontation between the million-plus Indonesians and the Malay Army. After substantial bloodshed, the Indonesians were sent packing. When the Malay economy started picking up the country was forced to once again send out their recruiters looking for a more docile group to deal with. The Filipino workers were out because those already in the country were demanding living wages, something that the Malaysian Government found not to be in the cars.  

In any event, the recruiters found a willing group of workers in the world’s hellhole, Bangladesh. These folks were so poor that they would work for literally anything and the Good Doctor like that a lot. In meantime, they weren’t big troublemakers like the Indonesians and the Filipinos and they knew their place. However, those from Bangladesh soon developed an intolerable habit. They were so concerned about being sent back to their native country that they started intermarrying with Malays.  

This sort of society blending was not acceptable to the Government and the Home Ministry suddenly banned the import of Bangladshis for work patrol. Higher wages, not wanting to go home and inter-marrying, were all absolutely intolerable traits to the Doctor’s Government. However, at the rate he is going, there soon will be nobody left to import and the Malays will be forced to do the work themselves. One of the major countries where Nike shoes are manufactured is Malaysia. It has been said that while Michael Jordan was playing basketball, he made more money than all of the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined.  

“Some trade unionists, who see foreign workers pulling down the wages market, regard the move to bar Bangladeshi workers as positive. “The immigrant labor was actually contributing to a lot of undercutting of wages,” said A Navamukundan, executive secretary of the National Union of Plantation Workers. “There are a lot of problems managing them - a lot of social problems because they are single males,” he added.”[8]  Why doesn’t the good Doctor just have the Bangladeshi workers neutered? However, the Government’s prejudice doesn’t seem to end with non-Muslims because, for the most part, the Indonesians and Bangladeshi are exactly that, Muslim.  

I guess the fact is that they don’t like anybody but themselves or could it be something even more sinister. Because multinationals don’t like to hire foreign workers in any country that they operate in, they hire contractors who in turn hire the workers. These contractors work hand in glove with agents in the various countries from whence the laborers are recruited. The agents are paid relatively large amounts of money to get these people the jobs that will allow them to escape their otherwise dismal fate. By banning groups from working in the country and replacing them with others, the agents and the contractors are able to once again charge an employment fee for their efforts. Currently heavy recruiting is going on in Nepal and Myanmar, but where will they go next?  

However, the Malaysians didn’t get off to a swift start with the aliens from Myanmar according to the people from Human Rights Watch witch indicated that Malaysia’s treatment of the group was “bad and betting worse”.  Human Rights Watch went on to say, “after fleeing, systematic discrimination, forced labor and other abuses in Myanmar, ethnic Rohingya (native people from Myanmar) face a whole new set of abuses. These include beatings, extortion and arbitrary detention. Myanmar refugee’s children could not attend school or receive medial attention, Malaysia has no asylum system and treats refugees as illegal immigrants.’ The Human Rights Watch report concluded with the general statement that; “Malaysia has no asylum system and treats refugees as illegal immigrants.”  

However, in spite of Malaysia’s not being too happy with the Indonesians in particular, they manage to come and go as they please. Indonesia at certain points is extremely close to Malaysia and at one point there was talk about building a bridge connecting the two countries. Indonesians line up in Sumatra and Batam and are ferried in at night by jitney type boats that can make several trips each evening. Interestingly enough, these rickety boats that cross the Malacca Strait have no navigational tools and use the control tower lights of Kuala Lumpur International Airport to guide them towards Selangor, one of the many drop off places. Others are Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Johor.   

 Worse yet for the Malaysians, Borneo is shared by not only Brunei but Indonesia as well. The borders are extremely porous and Indonesians pass through almost at will. Illegal Immigration is particularly heavy at this point because it appears that Indonesia is falling apart, both economically and as a country. Regional conflicts have caused civil disturbances and may well lead to revolution before it is all over. In addition, Indonesia is going through a disastrous economic period and is headed by a president who appears unable to accomplish anything. However, as fast as the Malaysian’s collect their recalcitrant Indonesians, they send them off to repatriation camps at Semenyih in the central state of Selangor.  

However, the Indonesians are currently logistically able to process 200 to 300 illegals at a time and there are between 1000 and 2000 detainees that have to be shipped out on a regular basis. On a daily basis, 200 more illegal immigrants arrive at the detention camp then can be shipped home. This has created a string of unusual problems for the Malaysians and maybe Indonesia has planned it that way. Rights groups that visited the camp indicated that it was so overcrowded that there was literally no room to lie down and if one could, there was no bedding. Nasir Ahmad the enforcement director at the camp had all the right answers that must have been supplied by Prime Minister Mohamad’s public relations firm:  

“We have one of the best detention camps in the region and Suhakam (the right group) should check out the centers in other countries first. In addiction, it is impossible to provide bedding for all detainees because the detainees, who are desperate individuals, may burn the place down using these materials.” [9]   

This guy know all the right words and how to put them together in a cohesive format. I would worry a lot if he was running my prison camps.  However, according to the Malay paper, Berita Harian, an estimated 18,000 Indonesians a week are arriving illegally in Malaysia with the help of boat skippers. Agence France-Presse in their issue of August 14, 2000 indicated that Bintan Island had become a transit point since last month. It said a ship from Jakarta arrived at Kijang port in Bintan with a least 6,000 people on board over the weekend…They were ferried by a convoy of vans to another small jetty for their journey into Malaysia, normally by speedboats which can accommodate up to 80 people for the hour-long trip.” It would seem to me that Malaysia better start building substantially bigger detention camps with this kind of influx.  

Nevertheless, it appears that the Malaysians are not too interested in working hard for a living. Abdul Rahman Mohamad is the department director of fisheries in Terengganu, Malaysia. He indicated that because he was unable to get any Malaysians to apply for jobs as crew on the fishing boats, he was forced to bring in 2,000 Thais. He went on to say that the presence of the Thais created social problems among the local community. It would appear that any foreign national working in Malaysia is going to be viewed as a social problem. It seems that at the time, Malays were more interested in eating Belachan a dried shrimp paste that comes in the shape of a brick, than they were in working. While Belachan is not unpleasant to the palate, it does have a tendency of stinking up the surroundings and insuring that the smell will not permeate the entire neighborhood can be a full time job. 

A word of warning, make sure you are in a well ventilated room when you open it. Try to shut off the kitchen to other parts of your house. Another few hints:

 

1.                                           You want to make sure you seal off the kitchen from other parts of the house. The smell is very potent.

2.                                           Try to open all windows, doors and so on, in your kitchen to make sure the smell goes out.

3.                                           Belachan can be stored in the fridge. Just keep it wrapped up in the paper it came in, put a layer of plastic bag and so on, on top and shut it tightly. A nice place would be an air tight container.” ([10])

 

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport had become a way station for illegal immigrants to sneak into the country. It seems that customer service officers, contractors, cleaners along with Sri Lankans posing as airport employees were giving their passes to illegal immigrants when they got off the plane, thus there was no requirement for them to go through customs[11]. Once outside, the aliens would give back their passes and pay their benefactors between $150 and $300 as the price of admission. This was probably a massive operation as security officers at the airport indicated that the illegals came from multiple locations with Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan as being the most frequent. The Malaysian Government does not have a clue relative to how many aliens are in its midst.  Talking about airports, Japan’s All Nippon Airways announced on February 28, 2001 that it would no long fly to Malaysia because it just can’t turn a profit on the route. It was indicated by the airline was losing money on the route and that passenger load was extremely low. In addition, British Airways, which had been flying to Malaysia for fifty-years announced that it would also suspend, flights for much the same reasons. Qantas and Lufthansa gave the same reasons as well.

And guess what else? The Malaysians had real honest-to-god pirates streaming in and out of their waters. It turns out that the “Strait of Malacca located between Malaysia and Indonesia is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes used by 600 vessels a day and is also the most pirate-infested channel. The Kuala Lumpur-based Piracy Reporting Center has said the number of attacks in the strait is at “an all-time high” this year due to political instability in Indonesia. Malaysian marine police have reported 52 actual or attempted attacks in the strait in the first 10 months, up from only five for the whole of last year…In November of 2000, one Japanese expert warned that rampant piracy in East Asian waters - often organized by international syndicates - could undermine the region’s economic development.” ([12])  

On alternative Tuesdays, his rallying vaults from blaming his problems on the fact the country is Muslim to claiming the West wants to keep his people in servitude.  He is adept at prognostication, however, for often before a speech he has correctly predicated that his stock market will crash when he is done.  If God had given anyone that type of power to see into the future, would we think we would want to use it for something more than creating poverty for our people.  In reality, he knows that what he is going to say will rile investors, speculators, multinational corporations and most foreign governments, isolating his country a little bit more with every speech. This bizarre attitude is the reason that the multi-nationals have had second thoughts of whether this country has really got its act together. Many in the Malaysian Government are no taking about the President leaving office at some early date before the obviously senile leader really put the country into a jackpot.  

Ultimately, his maniacal ranting and raving has caused serious repercussions, with death threats becoming common against Americans and other objects of his vitriol that are living in Malaysia.  This was probably a chauvinistic reaction to the move made in the U.S. Congress, which voted to have the Doctor retract his anti-Semitic statements or resign.  Congress should have known that this would not be constructively received.  The last time anybody ever noted the good Doctor to retract anything was when he ingested a swarm of mosquitoes "in heat", to which his open mouth looked like the Nirvana of breading grounds.  This event, which had happened many years earlier and almost resulted in a tragedy. 

Most of what the good Doctor has had to say has been merely uncontrolled rhetoric that apparently had as its purpose an intense desire to alienate commercial interests from ever setting foot in Malaysia again.  On December 14, 1997, he raised the ante by determining that American International Group, a major United States insurance carrier would have to disgorge 49% of a Malaysian subsidiary.  This came on the same day that of a 102-nation World Trade Organization conference in which the great majority of those present agreed to open up their financial markets to anyone and everyone with unlimited ownership available.  The attack on an American company, coming as it does in the midst of the downward economic spiral in the region, is heresy at best and insanity at worse.  The United States had already indicated that it would take away Most-Favored Nation Status from any that did not back the WTO entirely.  

For the good doctor to speak his mind seems only fair, but when it comes to free speech for the population in general, he has not always been so fair. In the last several years, tourism has replaced petroleum as the country's largest source of foreign exchange, an almost $5 billion industry.  However, when the Indonesian fires blotted out the sun, it caused a drop in occupancy rates in tourist facilities of over 50% in many areas.  Perhaps the government felt that it was an oxymoron to have transparency when you are covered with soot, therefore Malaysian scientists and environmentalists were ordered by the government to cease and desist talking to the media and to not make any public statements of their own regarding this problem.  As some of us will recall, the last time a fire caused this type of censorship, Hitler was burning Germany's books.  

Malaysia and Doctor Mahathir 

The leaders of all countries are fierce nationalists and by and large they don’t give a hoot about foreigners or things foreign. While we may not like leaders like Charles DeGaulle or Sadam Hussein and for good reason, top world leaders have an order of importance that never varies. Their priorities are limited; their families and their country and after that, forget about it. Their personal identity so bound up with chauvinism that their personalities in turn dictate national priorities; in many nations voters are so used to this that they don’t complain.  

Witness, for example, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, who is the both the most paranoid and the most bigoted leader in the world today. He hates people with a passion that do not share his views, his religion or his nationality. Thus, he hates all Malaysians who are not Muslim, he hates all countries in the world that are not Malaysia and he hates Caucasians with Jewish Americans being his worst hate of all.  

Where did a man that is supposedly intelligent enough to become both a Doctor and the Prime Minister of a nation, develop these hopelessly bigoted views? Probably it was because all of the moneyed people in Malaysia were non-Malays and he just couldn’t figure out how that had happened. He believed that all of the rich people in the rest of the world were Caucasian, and of those the richest were the Jews. Malaysia was not a world power and so his reach could not extend beyond his own borders, but under his paranoid guidance the hardest working and maybe the brightest people in Malaysia, the Chinese, were fleeced, restricted and had their inherent rights taken away. Under the guise of equal opportunity, he spawned religious and nationalist riots against all those that did not have the same forefathers and beliefs that he did. He was going to show the world what Malaysia could do, and for a time it appeared that he had done a lot of things right. However, he was attempting to move a third world country beyond its education competence levels, its economic condition and its will. He had severed the Chinese from his plans, and having done so, found that he had neither the money nor the brains to finish the job of rebuilding the country in his own image. 

In spite of this, Mahathir Mohammed pursued his suicidal dream, eliminating opponents in the process. If his ministers did not do his bidding promptly, they were relegated to prison or worse. If anyone had the nerve to question his authority, they were mocked. His hatred encompassed world agencies like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations, whose misguided efforts he often characterized as villainous tools of the evil United States.  Equally devilish, in his estimation, were “lily white” and Christian  Australia and New Zealand. Logic would have suggested that because they were neighboring nations that shared similar regional problems, both of these countries would be included in various dialogues with Malaysia.   But Mahathir repeatedly thwarted efforts to include these critical countries in meetings aimed at finding solutions to common problems.  

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Malaysia, is chiefly concerned with relations with China, and more specifically, how to stop that country from devouring ASEAN members politically and economically. China represents an economic threat because of its ultra-low labor rates.  It is a political threat because the Chinese are aggressive when it comes to national borders. Literally every country in the region is having problems with China relative to mutually claimed territory and some of these arguments will eventually turn serious. For example, the Spratly Islands are claimed to a great or lessor extent by no less than four countries. The maneuvering centers on anticipated oil strikes on the islands. Absent some kind of sharing agreement, the territorial dispute could end in war. China has become extremely intransigent relative to what it believes belongs to it. 

To combat Chinese aggression, both political and economic, the ASEAN nations formed a free trade zone block against China. This should be accomplished they believed in order to dramatically improve the block’s strength, and there seemed little question that Australia and New Zealand should be allowed to participate as well. A group was formed to investigate the matter and report back with their findings. The “white paper” that was furnished member nations showed that this union would produce almost $20 billion in additional gross domestic product to the group over a period of the next 20 years while attracting additional investment funds of approximately $40 billion. Neither of these two numbers were too shabby and it was universally determined to go ahead with these plans, that is, with one exception. Malaysia had not yet made their point of view known and when they did, the bottom was dropped out of the whole plan. They were for the plan if it did not include the Caucasian-Christian countries they said. Furthermore, they didn’t give a tinker’s damn about whatever happened in the region if those countries were included. And the Malaysians did not make any bones about their feelings. 

Because of Malaysia holding out, a meeting held on the subject in the Thailand City of Chiang Mai ended without agreements on this major subject.  Strangely, the group would have been better off without Malaysia even being a member of the organization, they are not that big of an exporter, they are Muslim in a world of countries not dominated by the Muslim religion, they have quietly made alliances that run contrary to the best interests of the other nations making up ASEAN such as with China. However, in spite of this and to save face the group apparently came up with the only agreement possible, they agreed to a “closer economic partnership” among the ASEAN countries a statement which could not be defined by any of the delegates who voted for it and which seemingly meant nothing.  

Malaysia was easily able to kill the proposal because ASEAN rules required a unanimous vote of all members and with the bigoted Mahathir leading the charge against it, there was no way it could have ever passed. Many that had been at the meeting indicated that Mahathir, who had only a short time left in office to exercise his powers wanted to get even with everyone that he felt had ever slighted him and for whatever reason, killing a deal that would have at least put forward a plan to deal with the ASEAN member’s economic well-being was seemingly more important than agreeing to a plan that would bring much needed money into local treasuries. ASEAN has little time left to get up to speed in trying to tame the Chinese dragon. They must either change their charter requiring unanimous consent or start another organization that does not include Malaysia or anyone connected with the country.  

Singapore which was part of Malaysia for a short period of time and wasn’t happy with the relationship determined to go their own way on the issues involved. They had been intimately involved in Malaysian politics and knew the nuances of its  rotten underpinnings. They are currently negotiating free-trade pacts with the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. This pulls the blocks out from under whatever unification plans the ASEAN countries might have had, but the Singapore theory is simplistic in that they are not going to wait until Mahathir passes the Malaysian reigns to someone else who could very well turn out to be his hand picked henchman following the same suicidal course. By that time Singapore could be well be chopped liver. These unilateral actions caused substantial consternation within the group and there was a lot of discussion of how Singapore could economically back-door every country in the region with goods purchased from any of their new friends using existing trade treaties. So through the good offices of Malaysia’s Minister for International Trade and Industry, Rafidah Aziz that country began to plant the seeds of doubt among its other fellow members of the ASEAN. 

While all of the other members would have preferred that Singapore try to resolve its differences before jumping ship, it was pointed out at the highest levels of these governments, that Malaysia had constantly been a thorn in the side of the organization and had resorted to blackmail in the past when it was felt to be in their interests. They gave the example of the Malaysian national car project, the Photon in showing graphically what would happen if Mahathir’s wayward government continued to get their way. The Photon was a pet project of Mahathir who felt that a national car could show that Malaysia was able to compete in this highly capital intensive business.  

However, Mahathir was smart enough to realize that the only way the car had a chance to make it was to literally block imports of competitive makes from Malaysia’s shores. This was done with an unusually high tariff that required approval from the other ASEAN countries, some of whom were competing automobile manufacturers. Obviously other members were not happy with these high handed and objectionable tactics and resented the tariffs of 140 to 300 per cent that was added to the cost of imported cars into Malaysia and soon the competition was eaten alive with the Photon and Perodua the other car maker that is indigenous to Malaysia dividing 80% of new car sales in the country.  

The fact was transparent that Malaysia’s Government wanted protection for the car in the form of tariff exemptions, but to add insult to injury they announced in no uncertain terms that without their qualifications being met they would quit the organization. The other country’s caved in and Singapore bolted not wanting to be blackmailed any further. Keeping Malaysia in the organization and losing Singapore was hardly an even trade. ASEAN lost a major link in their armor and were stuck with a government run by a madman. Thailand which competes with Malaysia in that field considers the matter a slap in the face is rethinking all of its relationships in the region. To appease the bigot, the entire face of Southeast Asia could change and instead of a united front, the only thing that this denuded group is going to be able to put forward is the reasons for their future failures. 

There is something about economics that eventually causes every element to fall to its lowest common denominator and that soon happened with the entire auto business in Malaysia. Perodua obviously saw the handwriting on the wall and realized that eventually the confiscatory tariffs would have to be removed and that at that time they were not going to be in any position to be competitive. Their management realized how hopeless the struggle for business would be with the real automobile manufacturers in the rest of the world beginning to compete on a more level playing field. It would be a day when manufacturing skill and economics would rule the health of the automobile industry not false national pride.  

Daihatsu of Japan offered both Perodua and Malaysia a face saving move that was immediately accepted as the alternative would have been eventual bankruptcy of the company. Japan would take over the manufacturing of the Perodua, however the car would immediately begin to look exactly like the cars made by Daihatsu. In effect it would be a Daihatsu but would remain with the name Perodua to sooth Malaysian nationalistic feelings. The company that had previously manufactured the Perodua would revert to being an investor in what would now would be a joint venture with Perodua having literally nothing to say about anything and when the smoke cleared would act solely as the car’s distributor in Malaysia. Naturally Mahathir announced a major victory as his number two car manufacturer disappeared from the scene.   

Malaysia has consistently killed any relationship in which the International Monetary Fund is a participant because of its own particular antipathy for that organization even though a recent move would have combined the regional currencies of ASEAN for economic protection along with those of Japan, South Korea and China. This would have created a most compelling faction and one to be dealt with gingerly on a global basis. Once again, short sighted Malaysia demonstrated that logic has no bearing whenever bigotry can be used as a defense.  

Then came one of the most important issues ever to face ASEAN, the issue of who really owned the Spratly Island Chain. This group of islands is located about equidistantly from everyone and for most of history were considered to be a worthless land mass having nothing on it including people. No one wanted anything to do with the Spratlys, they did not produce anything, no one lived on them, they were not strategic and they were not agreeable to the senses. A sort of garbage dump of the Pacific Rim. However, from seismic and geological readings it has become apparent that the much maligned islands probably contain a ton of oil and suddenly this pariah like area has become highly desired. Now all of the countries with a pray of having a claim to the islands is giving chapter and verse of why they own these desolate atolls.  

Things got so hot that the various ASEAN countries came near war with each other over ownership rights. However, before things got even worse it was agreed by the members to jointly lay their claims to the Spratlys but on an individual basis to let things alone. In typical fashion it didn’t take Malaysia five minutes after they signed the document to send their own expeditionary force to one of those islands, Investigator Shoal and make a claim for it. Not only did this fly in the face of the agreed upon terms, but it made the other ASEAN countries look like fools. Malaysia still attends the ASEAN meetings but one really has to wonder how much longer the other members are going to put up with the intransigence.  

Malaysia did their own thing once again when the East Timor region erupted in the flames of revolution. People were being murdered by Indonesian muggers disguised as soldiers and police. It was determined at an ASEAN meeting that the region would send in an expeditionary force to save as many people as possible. After Malaysia had unequivocally agreed to support the project in the name of humanity, they just as quickly pulled out with great fanfare when they learned that an Australian officer would be leading the expedition. This duplicity on the part of Malaysia, once again made ASEAN look like the paper tiger that they had become.  

The ASEAN members didn’t pay too much attention to the weird things that was doing because they felt that when Mahathir’s term of office was over, things would become better. They felt that as long as ASEAN could deal intelligently with the economic problems that were becoming worse in the region because of China’s emergence as a low cost quality producer, everything else could wait. They had an idea which they believed could be the solution. Align with India and use that as a threat against China. However, while this made a lot of sense, Malaysia doesn’t cotton to Hindu’s and primarily for that reason has used its veto to keep India out of regional politics. This is in spite of its neighbors beliefs that India would represent a strong signal to China that there was a unified front.  

As is filling the idea wasn’t enough, Mahathir was just beginning, Malaysia under his guidance inked a separate arrangement with co-religionists from Pakistan an ally of China and a producer of nothing of either quality or quantity of value other than heroine. The deal made so little sense that most people in the region were convinced that the entire plan had been bought and paid for by Beijing and that Mahathir had become their number one puppet. While the evidence of Mahathir’s relationship with Pakistan is evident in the treaties that he has signed, the China card that Malaysia has played is only a conjecture based on the literally suicidal approach that the country has taken on every single opportunity it has had. We believe that ASEAN has had it and unless they kick Malaysia out of the consortium, they are dead meat which they may already be anyway.  

Malaysia has prided itself on huge infrastructure developmental projects but the rhetoric coming from their fearless leader has dissuaded most multi-national companies from their use. Especially hard hit are the real estate projects that were constructed without a lot of analysis, the high-tech villages, the massive downtown buildings and schools. There is no question that on the surface, Malaysia was offering something special to high-tech companies. Not that the same things were not available elsewhere, it was the fact that in the case of Malaysia they would all be located in close proximity to each other, tax holidays would be granted and the participants would receive addition incentives to make their stay in Malaysia most inviting. However, it just plain didn’t happen in spite of Malaysia’s producing just about everything that they said they would.  

Moreover, when the multi-nationals that Malaysia were inviting to be their guests noticed that suddenly the Malaysian currency had been blocked, that their stock market had been tinkered with by the government (no short sales among other things), that their imports had been severely restricted and that it appeared the government could take away anything that it had granted at the drop of a hat, most companies reconsidered the invitation and decided to take in under advisement. And it was not only the dictatorial manner in which life in Malaysia seemed to function but it was often the tone of Mahathir’s speeches that turned everyone off. He was against everything but motherhood and no one was really to sure about how he felt about that. Mahathir would determine where something would be placed and when it would be finished and woe on to those that were in charge of the project should it not be ready on time. This lack of central planning when the projects were in their infancy that proved to be disastrous. It was more or less as though government said, we need a widget factory and it ought to go here and the next day the construction crews came out and built it. That seems to be what happened to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.  

The City Fathers said, here is a vacant parcel that would make good land for an airport and after some planning construction was started. It seemed like a great spot, right over a deserted oil palm plantation. Now everyone knows that rats really love oil palm and there is literally no way to keep them away from this much desired morsel. Rats will come for miles around once they get the smell of the stuff and it acts like an aphrodisiac to the rodents, the more they get of it the more they want. When the airport was completed they rats were the prime residents of the area. The rats got into the planes, the restaurants, they ate the electrical wiring which the rodents love to chew on and they found the  first class cabins filed with rats who enjoyed luxury. The only person that wasn’t called in to correct the problem was the Pied Piper who many said had been politically banned from Malaysia because he was white. The Pied Piper could have been helpful in this disaster for the airport that came in at fat $2.3 billion dollars. No relief is in sight for eateries at the airport and people are going to be bringing box lunches to Kuala Lumpur International Airport for the foreseeable future. 

Another construction project that seems to have gone wrong in Malaysia is the erection of prisons. Historically they are known to be unusually harsh even for minor crimes but many think that they were just constructed poorly and no one will admit it. Lim Guan Eng didn’t do a lot wrong as a lawmaker, he just wrote a pamphlet that criticized the government and for his efforts received the customary sentencing of 39-months in jail. However, it turns out that for this misdemeanor, Lim got a cell that had no window, bed, or anything else for that matter. The only thing in his cell besides the walls was a hole in the ceiling for ventilation. As a matter of fact, poor Lim doesn’t even have a light. Either that is cruel and inhuman punishment or it is a case of some really bad planning or both. Because it was Lim, there was a big to do about it in the international community.  

The Malaysian response by Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi regarding the conditions was the usual substandard mutterings of Malaysian bureaucrats “They are treated as such because they had committed various crimes, don’t expect them to receive accommodation and treatment similar to those provided by three-, four-, or five-star hotels.” That statement puts the international community of do gooders where they belong and they won’t be quick to mess with Abdullah again. These Malaysian lower echelon political wanabees probably attend endless hours of schooling being taught dumb responses to intelligent questions. Better yet, maybe someone higher up in the totem pool is writing his stuff.  

It wasn’t only the strange construction of Malaysian prisons that seemed to bother the international community, it was also the judicial system itself. After all, hadn’t Anwar Ibrahim, the country’s heir apparent been railroaded in a trail that was so embarrassing to the government that they eventually tried to seal off what was going on. One witness who had been beaten to submission after another appeared in court with the bruises still showing on their faces who suddenly were able to see the government’s point of view and testified dishonestly regarding the obviously trumped up charges. However, facing being beaten with a rubber hose or lying a bit in court, it would have taken a strong person to resist the temptation of going along. Many indicated that they didn’t realize how strongly government officials felt about the matter.  

Television viewers in Malaysia up to that point were regularly horrified as semen stained mattresses and homosexual sex slaves were paraded in front of viewers, including children that didn’t even understand what they were watching. In a totally unusual move, three representatives from the World Court in The Hague paid Malaysia a command visit to investigate the independence of the country’s judicial system. Eventually, this report will be circulated throughout the world and everyone will get a good look at what we are dealing with here. The mere fact that the World Court chose to visit this country says it all. Amnesty International has called Anwar Ibrahim a “prisoner of conscience.”  

Meanwhile back the ranch, a new capital was built for Malaysia and it was aptly named Putrajaya, “the garden city”, utopia.  Utopia carried an enormous price tag, one of the biggest projects in the history of South East Asia and worse yet was really a redundant development as the legislature already had a magnificent set of building in which to operate from. What didn’t exist in Kuala Lumpur though was the required opulent palace to house the Prime Minister. Now Prime Ministers don’t normal get opulent palaces because they are always looked at as working guys; palaces are usually reserved for kings and the like. But not in Malaysia where money is never an object when it comes to Prime Ministers, palaces here can be for anybody but in Utopia it is only for Mahathir. The palace has been strategically located at the center of Utopia and is several city blocks in size. It is surrounded by a number of artificial lakes complete with equally artificial bulrushes. The palace is covered with a magnificent green copper dome and is at the epicenter of thirty square blocks of government offices.  

Everything about this new capital was kept secret from outsiders for reasons only known to those in charge but information on the city’s shortcomings soon started leaking to the press. It soon became common knowledge that some bureaucrat had forgotten to order chairs and other office equipment and there were substantial questions raised at where people would sit. Officials were quick to point out that although the city still had not a soul in it, it did have the normal accoutrement of a dozen parks and jogging paths. Another story that appeared from seemingly nowhere was the fact that the buses that were supposed to transport the people have not arrived either and no one had the answers to who one would get from one place to another. Rustam Sani of the University of Malaya, put the problem in perspective: “Such massive projects are wasteful and point to cronyism, all the government complexes in Kuala Lumpur were built not too long ago and now all that will be left vacated.”   

Naturally government officials want the 85 nations that have embassies in Kuala Lumpur to move to Utopia however at this time there has been little interest by any of the emissaries to change locations and move into an unfinished city. Interestingly enough, if the present schedule of moving workers comes off as planned, Kuala Lumpur will become a desert within a few years. I guess it will than assume the title of the city with the highest uninhabited building in the world. Previously successful businesses that serviced that cities population will wither on the vine and the already spiraling vacancy rate will turn Kuala Lumpur into a ghost town. The head of Malaysia’s central planning, Dr. Mohamad deserves a special citation for this up coming disaster.  

The financing for Utopia may also turn out to be a disaster. Local companies were told how much they had to contribute in the form of loans to finance the project so that the hard pressed government wouldn’t have to pay the freight. However, the project will be continuing on for another 15-years or so when over 300,000 people have been moved in. Malaysia’s economy has really hit the rocks recently and there is little sign of any recovery possible in the future as they bet the country on high-tech, the industry that has been clobbered the worst. Companies within Malaysia that had the most promising futures are now languishing and literally begging for the dollars to pay their bills. Many have already gone under. Malaysia is faced with a catch-22, either the bailing out of their industry, which literally is too big of a problem to even consider or cutting back totally on infrastructure development and praying for a miracle. We don’t see any miracles on the horizon, the country hasn’t made a lot of friends with its pedantic decisions; this place will not be making a comeback in the foreseeable future and at least until Mahathir and his traveling hate circus are eliminated permanently from the scene.  

 

 



[1] Ibid.

[2] Malaysia says U.S. .unfit to preach on human rights, Thursday March 8, 2001, Reuters

[3] Opposition Leader Charged with sedition over newspaper article, Baca jarring. my, March 13, 2001

[4] Ackerman Blasts Prie Inister for Anti-Semitic Remarks, October 27, 1997, House Floor Biography Constituent Services Legislation Press Committees.

[5] Murder in Malaysia, as the country recovers from its latest outbreak of racial violence, its political leaders are seeking new ways to ease ethnic tensions. Ken Stier, Newsweek, March 21, 2001.

[6] Malaysian Prime Minister: ‘We had to decide things for ourselves’, Executive Intelligence Review February 19,1999

[7] Mahathir’s Dilemma, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wants a modern secular state - but this out-of-date tactics go against his vision. Peter Cordingley, Asiaweek, January 26, 2001.

[8] Kuala Lumpur under fire for ban on Bangladeshis, Anil Netto, Asia Times, February 27, 2001.

[9] Malaysia Blames Indonesia for detention camp overcrowding, BACA jarring. my, November 8, 2000.

[10] Ray’s List of Weird and Disgusting Foods, From Lin Nah.

[11] Abdul Halil Mutalib who is the chief of the Customs department gave us a little insight into the problems that the customs department was having. It seems that the customs 10,000 people have exactly the same colored yellow uniforms that are worn by parking attendants and guards. This in turn caused “much embarrassment to the officials. The Government announced that new uniforms would be forthcoming as soon as funding was available.

[12] Malaysia police say pirate gang in Malacca Strait bused. BACA Jaring.my, December 17, 2000.

 

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