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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Understanding and practising sovereignty



Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Foreign Minister Anifah Aman have both raised a huge outcry over the meeting of the 14 European Union (EU) ambassadors, and 3 charges d'affaires, with members of Pakatan Harapan, including Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister-in-waiting.
Indeed, the meeting was held at the residence of Maria Castillo Fernandez, the EU's ambassador to Malaysia on Jan 25.
Ostensibly, Najib and Anifah averred that Pakatan Harapan had crossed the line. However, the claim that Harapan has breached the sovereignty of Malaysia is not only ludicrous but wildly off-target and comical.
An opposition coalition is effectively the government-in-waiting, especially in Malaysia, where the government has failed to perform. 
There is nothing in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 that argues to the contrary, that a government-in-waiting cannot hold a dialogue with another diplomatic delegation.
Indeed, beyond sheer dysfunction, the Malaysian government has become a world-renowned kleptocracy manifested by the sheer size of the 1MDB scandal that has run into billions of ringgit and investigations across seven nations, worldwide.
More amazingly, while arrests and asset seizures have been conducted by the US, Singapore and other jurisdictions, the Malaysian government has produced not a single suspect or indictment over the corruption and theft of 1MDB.
Other cases like SRC International, Felda and Mara, have also produced no criminal conviction. At this rate, well before the opposition coalition can unseat the government of BN through elections, the latter has already been compromised by its own shortcomings and shenanigans.
Diplomatic due process
Indeed, the opposition coalition has the right, even the call of duty, to form a shadow cabinet. 
The ultimate aim of a shadow cabinet, as practised across the British Commonwealth, of which Malaysia is a member, is to minimise any policy friction and disruption, especially when the government changes from one to the other. 
Thus, the meeting between Mahathir and other Harapan leaders with EU diplomatic representatives fall within the context of a diplomatic due process. 
If the EU delegates have acted in an unbecoming manner, it is the responsibility of the government of the day to declare them "persona non grata". 
In other words, these diplomats are no longer fit to serve in their current capacities, as they have meddled in the internal affairs of Malaysia.
But, as of now, none of the EU diplomatic representatives has been called to account for their meeting with Harapan. 
Indeed, Anifah made no mention of the need to remove them. Neither did Najib. This alone affirms the fact that there was no ground for any removal of the EU diplomats.
Nothing to hide
To be sure, foreign intervention happens when there is an outright call for regime change, or the forceful overthrow of a democratically elected government through a coup or “political donations” from foreign governments or individuals as a means to shape and interfere in the domestic affairs of Malaysia.
A meeting with a group of EU diplomats, where the venue was known ahead of time, suggests no conspiracy at work. Photos shared after the meeting also showed that there were no attempts to conceal such meetings.
One has to remember that EU is not a representative of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
If electoral monitoring groups are what Najib and Anifah are concerned with, then there are grounds for serious worries indeed. Time is simply catching up with BN. And neither Najib nor Anifah can be the proverbial Canute who holds back the raging people's tsunami.
Indeed, BN has every incentive not to lose.
Wasn't Najib the one who said 1Malaysia is a creed where the needs of the rakyat are privileged above all else?
Granted that each vote is sacred in a democracy, why not allow foreign electoral monitoring groups to ascertain the validity of the whole democratic process?
What is there to be feared, if there is nothing to hide?

RAIS HUSSIN is a Supreme Council Member of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM). He also heads the Policy and Strategy Bureau of Bersatu.- Mkini

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