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Thursday, October 28, 2010

A lesson for Malaysia: Aussie MPs oppose S'pore deal due to weak democracy record


Puffed- up Najib ignores world censure for hatchet job on Anwar
Malaysia Chronicle

If Malaysian authorities including Prime Minister Najib Razak thinks that the world is their oyster and what they do in Malaysia is nobody's business but their own, then they should look at how democracy-desert Singapore is finally learning its lesson the hard way - and from another nearby neighbor, Australia!

Just days ago, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Aziz had scoffed at the Inter-Parliamentary Union - even calling it "stupid" for censuring the Najib administration over its manifestly trumped-up sodomy charges against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Such arrogance is itself not only even more stupid, but it will surely lead Malaysia down the path of bankruptcy and world ostracism sooner rather than later.

New politics, best practice

The embarrassing difficulty that the Singapore bourse is now facing in its proposed merger with the Australian exchange is a classic example of the type of new politics required if one is to gel in an increasingly globalized world.

Not only have Australian civil rights activists warned Prime Minister Julia Gillard against the deal, key Aussie lawmakers are also giving the Singapore merger the thumbs down.

Malaysia - if the Umno-BN government fails to change its ways - faces being relegated to same democracy garbage heap as Singapore, Burma and Zimbabwe.

Australian lawmakers have already minced no words, telling Najib to reassess the fairness of the Anwar trial and not hide behind Malaysia's sovereignty to mask what is to the rest of the world very clearly a nasty, hatchet job on a political rival - plain and simple!


Malaysia Chronicle appends below the article entitled Key Australian MPs oppose Singapore bourse merger published by The Economic Times on Thursday.

SYDNEY- Australian independent MPs Thursday vowed to oppose a Sydney stock exchange merger with Singapore's bourse, further clouding the 8.2-billion US dollar plan, which has sparked a fierce political backlash.

Cross-benchers Tony Crook and Andrew Wilkie said the deal was not in the national interest, while fellow independent Tony Windsor warned that there was "quite a degree of concern" among his constituents.

Greens MP Adam Bandt repeated his party's opposition over Singapore's human rights and democracy record while rural renegade Bob Katter has already said he did not want to live in a country of "serfs working for foreign landlords".

"It's not in the national interest to have our stock exchange part-owned by the Singapore government , a government where there is no functioning democratic opposition," Bandt told reporters.

"I just don't think that that is in Australia's long-term interest."

Independent MPs hold the balance of power in Australia's parliament, which will need to approve changes to rules governing the Sydney exchange's ownership if the merger is to go ahead.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard relies on support from four of the six cross-benchers to stay in government and pass legislation, with a majority of just one vote in the lower house.

The Liberal/National opposition has not announced a position on the merger, but shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the government would have to demonstrate that it would benefit Australia.

The deal would create the world's fifth largest exchange, giving Australian investors access to companies in fast-growing Asia, while Singapore could tap Australia's lucrative resources and compulsory pensions sectors.

The deal must also pass a series of regulatory hurdles and be approved by Treasurer Wayne Swan. Analysts say sticking points could be the Singapore government's large stake in the SGX and the new board's make-up.

Wilkie, a former intelligence analyst and Iraq war whistleblower, issued a "challenge" to the government to convince him of the deal's merit.

"At this point in time I would not support any move to sell the ASX to Singapore or to interests in Singapore," he said. "I think the ASX is just too fundamentally important to our economy and to our sovereignty."

Fellow rural MP Crook, from mining centre Western Australia, said it would be a "mistake" to sell the ASX, likening the deal to intense Asian interest in Australia's resources companies.

"We have a mind to sell everything of late, and I think the Australian Stock Exchange is fundamentally Australian and it should stay here," he said.

Windsor, one of the "kingmaker" independents who returned Gillard to power after inconclusive August polls, said he wanted assurances and would not necessarily vote for the deal if it was recommended by the government.

But Rob Oakeshott, another of the kingmakers, cautiously supported the push, adding that he would be guided by the foreign investment watchdog's recommendations.

"If they come out in favour of any takeovers or mergers I will be strongly persuaded by their recommendations," he said.

"Singapore is one of our biggest trading and commercial partners and there is a very strong argument to develop links and strengthen our financial centre," Oakeshott said. - The Economic Times

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