VP Kamala Harris skipping M’sia, visiting S’pore, speaks volumes.
Washington may rely on S’pore as stand-in for M’sia on South China Sea.
Many M’sians have expressed surprise in the social media that US Vice President Kamala Harris skipped M’sia on the South China Sea (SCS) and instead visited S’pore on Mon 23 Aug for talks on the issue.
Apparently, these netizens are the same people “gloating” over America purportedly suffering “sudden” defeat in Afghanistan, after 20 years, at the hands of the Taliban. Some PAS leaders also allegedly congratulated the Taliban for seizing the Afghan gov’t in Kabul by force and celebrating “mission accomplished”.
Several factors, coming together in various combinations, may have persuaded the US Vice President to skip M’sia on her Asian visit and instead head straight for S’pore on the SCS issue.
M’sia, unlike S’pore, has been relatively discreet on the SCS. When 16 PLA jets intruded into M’sian airspace in S’wak on Tues 1 June, Wisma Putra’s response was relatively muted.
Indonesia, when it faced similar PLA intrusions in the Natuna Islands between Malaya and S’wak, around the same time, took firm and decisive actions. It warned the jets to leave or be forced down, and if they refused, be shot out of the skies.
S’pore stand-in for M’sia . . .
In fact, unlike S’pore which isn’t a claimant, M’sia has a large area of the SCS which lies between Malaya and the Borneo territories and further north. M’sia has many oil and gasfields in vast stretches of the SCS also claimed by Beijing under its arbitrary Nine Dash Line in the waters.
Washington, in a way, may be using S’pore to stand-in for M’sia on the SCS. In a way, just like Australia in southeast Asia, S’pore has become another junior Sheriff in the region for America. The jury may no longer be out on the issue.
The S’pore Navy has been actively engaging with the Indonesian and Indian navies in the Straits of Malacca which straddles the Andaman Sea and the SCS. Also, S’pore has been engaging with India, Vietnam, Australia, Japan and the US in the South China Sea.
The immediate catalyst behind the Harris’ decision to skip M’sia may be Umno Vice President Ismail Sabri being appointed as M’sia’s 9th Prime Minister on Sat 21 Aug.
There may be parallels between Putrajaya, Kabul and Myanmar. Sanctions have been imposed on Myanmar. Afghanistan faces the same prospects. Already, IMF funds for Kabul have been cut off by Washington prevailing on the Fund.
Phone call from S’pore . . .
Except for neighbours, it’s not known how many other countries congratulated IS on his appointment. The new Prime Minister, it was reported, received a call from S’pore PM Lee Hsien Loong on Sun 22 Aug and an invitation to visit the island republic. S’pore has many longstanding issues with M’sia including airspace and water agreements.
Although the Agong decreed that IS should face a confidence motion in Parliament, as soon as possible, the gov’t does not have the consent of the governed and therefore lacks legitimacy.
The consensus in the legal fraternity holds that the people have lost their sovereignty to 15 Umno MPs. These lawmakers were responsible for bringing down the Muhyiddin Yassin gov’t on Mon 16 Aug.
If the IS gov’t falls, as the guessing game has begun, the Agong won’t be able to get into another round of going through Statutory Declarations (SD) and interviewing lawmakers one by one. The head of state may have no choice but point in the direction of Parliament House and close the Istana gates.
Alternatively, if civilian gov’t fails, Agong can withdraw executive authority under Article 39 until GE15 in 2023 and exercise it through a National Council headed by a Director of Operations as in 1969, after the May 13 disturbances.
The Muhyiddin Administration was no different from the IS gov’t, similarly lacking legitimacy, having no consent of the governed.
Myanmar . . .
Ironically, Putrajaya under Muhyiddin has been publicly lecturing Myanmar after the military launched a coup d’etat and seized power from the civilian gov’t led by Aung San Suu Kyi on Mon 1 Feb.
Putrajaya hasn’t so far adopted firm foreign policy and security options in line with international law. It has not committed itself to the rule of law, the basis of the Federal Constitution, on governance. The country continues to risk being sidelined by the US and the international community.
M’sia, for example, hasn’t taken any stand on the Quad, a security framework led by Washington, and covering the Indo-Pacific war theatre. Other members of the Quad are India, Australia and Japan. The navies of S’pore, Vietnam and Indonesia are working with the Quad.
India, although a member of the Quad and the global security framework, has declared that it would not be party to pitting one country against another.
Global security framework . . .
The Asia-based global security framework, led by America, includes India, China, Japan and Russia.
M’sia, instead, continues to harbour hate preacher Zakir Naik from India. Bangladesh has requested New Delhi to extradite Zakir Naik for allegedly inspiring terrorists attacks on a cafe in Dacca, Bangladesh.
Putrajaya isn’t sure that Zakir Naik, who faces money laundering charges in India, will get a fair trial. Former M’sian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, meanwhile, faces money laundering charges although the alleged assets aren’t in his name.
In international law, money laundering stands defined as having assets in excess of what could be legitimately acquired over a lifetime.
Illegal immigrants . . .
M’sia, under Mahathir Mohamad during the 2018-2020 period, provoked tensions with New Delhi by alleging that India invaded and occupied Kashmir. He further alleged that New Delhi had newly passed anti-Muslim amendments to the citizenship law.
New Delhi did away with the autonomy of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh, on national security grounds, and declared them as union territories. Kashmir and Jammu would be union territories temporarily, Ladakh in perpetuity.
New Delhi amended the citizenship law to allow quick passage to citizenship for refugees fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015. Most of these refugees were non-Muslim.
The amended citizenship law also provided for the removal of “illegal immigrants”, mostly Muslim, from the electoral rolls for Federal and state elections. Foreigners in India can only vote in village and local gov’t elections.
The amendments were based on the Assam Accord which was approved by the Supreme Court of India. The Assam Accord saw the removal of four million Bangladeshi from the bulk of the electoral rolls in Assam state. The affected Bangladeshi can continue to stay in India but can’t vote in Federal and state elections unless they take up Indian citizenship.
M’sia in Middle East . . .
In the Middle East, M’sia follows the Hamas and Fatah narrative on Jerusalem and the Israeli military administration of the West Bank. Christians in M’sia are upset with Putrajaya not getting its facts right on the Middle East.
Hamas in the Gaza Strip has been listed as a terrorist organisation. Israel vacated the Gaza Strip decades ago. Hamas, from time to time, launches rocket attacks on Israel, allegedly from civilian areas. Israel responds with missiles and bombs against the military sites in these areas after warning the civilians to leave during the operation. There have been allegations that Hamas does not allow the civilians to leave for safety.
Jerusalem has been a Jewish-majority city ever since it was founded by King David about 3K years ago. Ninety per cent of the land in Jerusalem belong to various Church denominations. The Ottomon Empire, which turned 99 per cent Christian Turkey into 99 per cent Muslim, apparently never interfered with the Church in Jerusalem.
Arab in Israel . . .
The Arab leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were last elected decades ago. Israel does not have partners for peace because the Arab leaders remain unelected.
Israel collects taxes in the West Bank for the Palestine Authority run by Fatah.
Arab form 20 per cent of the population in Israel. They have 15 seats in the 120 seat Parliament. One of the three Arab parties is in gov’t. The Arab can be found in all walks of life in Israel.
Before Israel was founded in 1947, and recognised by the UN and the international community, both Jew and Arab in Jerusalem and Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip were known as Palestinians.
The Arab in Israel, Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip don’t have land titles. The Ottomon Empire refused to issue such documents.