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Saturday, September 29, 2012

How is govt's military cooperation with the US 'halal'?


How is govt's military cooperation with the US 'halal'?
Penang-based Aliran Kesedaran Negara has questioned the accusations by the government that rights group Suaram was in cohorts with foreign powers to undermine the country.
Citing details on the website of the United States embassy in Malaysia, Aliran said it was ironic that the Barisan Nasional government talked about Western funding for pro-democracy projects when it had embraced US military cooperation.
Among others, Aliran said the US's Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) alongside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the US Pacific Command, cooperate with the government to manage Foreign Military Sales cases for equipment, services and training, military exercises and conferences, as well as US military education and training programmes.
It noted that every year, ODC supported bilateral and multi-lateral exercises with the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Royal Malaysian Police "to promote interoperability and cooperation", which included such exercises as Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), Cope Taufan, Keris Strike, Air Warrior, and Joint Combined Exchange Training.
"Perhaps those who are investigating and condemning Suaram might care to explain why such dealings with the US military are considered halal while Suaram’s relative minuscule foreign funding is deemed haram.
"Given the US military record in sponsoring dictators and intervention from Vietnam to Iraq, surely such military cooperation between the United States and Malaysia, which aspires to be a leader of the Third World, is indefensible," said Aliran in a statement.
Suaram, Malaysia's pioneer human rights group registered as Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd under the Company Act 1965, has come under attack from BN leaders and their media for receiving funds from Western think tanks to carry out its activities.
Leading the charge against the group, which spearheaded the ongoing French probe into alleged mass-scale corruption involving Malaysia's purchase of the Scorpenes submarines, is Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who said investigation found that "something suspicious and confusing" about Suaram.
Aliran is among the groups who have joined a campaign called ‘Stand up for Suaram’, aimed at mobilising support for Suaram.
"What is the group’s real crime apart from the technicalities of operating as a registered company instead of as a society?" it asked.
Aliran added that there were more pressing matters affecting the country's sovereignty.
"There is tremendous pressure on us to implement the EU-Asean FTA and to come on board the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which could result in MNCs gaining the power to sue sovereign governments," it said, referring to the heavily criticised US-led regional pact which Malaysia is part off. Critics argue that the pact would remove Malaysia's ability to regulate cooperations within the country.
"Surely we should be more worried about these transnational flows and trends. Some of them might be unavoidable and even beneficial. Others we might be better off shunning e.g. the rare earth refinery," Aliran added, pointing to Australian-based rare-earth refinery in Pahang which the government has defended despite strong protests.
-Harakahdaily

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