HUT Maritim Malaysia Ke-16: Ancaman Kedaulatan dan Masalah IUU

Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia akan menyambut hari ulangtahunnya yang ke-16. Bagaimanakah rupa cabaran yang bakal dihadapinya pada masa akan datang?

10 hari sebelum berakhirnya tahun 2020, China mengumumkan bahawa grup tempur kapal pengangkut pesawatnya yang terbaharu, Shandong, sedang dalam pelayaran ke Laut China Selatan melalui Selat Taiwan untuk menjalani latihan-latihan. Pada hari Krismas 2020, pesawat pengangkut terbesar China dari jenis Y-20 dikesan telah membuat pendaratan percubaan di Terumbu Fiery Cross di Kepulauan Spratlys. Kedua-dua perbuatan China ini memberi isyarat bahawa negara tersebut mempunyai kebolehan untuk mengirim bala bantuan untuk memperkukuhkan kuasa tenteranya di kawasan yang menjadi rebutan pelbagai negara tersebut.

Di perairan negeri Perak pula, 181 bot nelayan asing yang menjalankan penangkapan ikan secara haram (IUU – illegal, unreported, unregulated) telah diusir oleh kapal peronda KM Malawali dalam masa enam hari bermula 28 November 2020 hingga 3 Disember 2020. Selain perairan Perak, lain-lain bot nelayan asing juga diusir keluar dari perairan Pulau Pinang, Kedah, Pahang dan Terengganu.

Dalam bulan Disember 2020, Maritim Malaysia negeri Pulau Pinang berjaya menahan dua buah bot dalam dua kejadian kejar-mengejar kelajuan tinggi (high-speed chase) berasingan di laut dan merampas sejumlah dadah bernilai hampir RM11 juta.

Ketiga-tiga keadaan di atas mencerminkan cabaran-cabaran yang sedang dan bakal dihadapi oleh Maritim Malaysia pasca hari ulangtahunnya yang ke-16 pada 15 Februari 2021. Sebagai sebuah agensi penguatkuasaan yang masih muda, Maritim Malaysia telah terpaksa meredah ombak bukan sahaja di samudera luas, malah dalam konteks geopolitik serantau. Untuk mengupas isu ini dengan lebih lanjut, kita bahagikan cabaran-cabaran ini kepada x bahagian seperti berikut:

  • China, Vietnam dan Ancaman Kedaulatan
  • Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin (PATI) dan Pelarian Rohingya
  • Penangkapan Ikan Secara Haram (IUU) di era pandemik COVID-19
  • Pengoperasian Aset dan Masalah Penguatkuasaan

CHINA, VIETNAM DAN ANCAMAN KEDAULATAN

Kedaulatan Malaysia kini tercabar bukan sahaja dengan pencerobohan-pencerobohan yang dilakukan oleh nelayan-nelayan dari China dan Vietnam di Zon Ekonomi Eksklusif (ZEE) Malaysia di Laut China Selatan (SCS) tetapi juga dengan yang dilakukan oleh kapal-kapal dari China Coast Guard (CCG) dan Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG).

Punca permasalahan ini adalah apabila China mengisytiharkan sebahagian besar SCS sebagai wilayah maritimnya serta menambak terumbu-terumbu di kawasan Kepulauan Paracel dan Spratly yang merupakan kawasan tuntutan bertindih melibatkan lima buah negara lain iaitu Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Filipina dan Brunei. Kawasan ini ditanda di dalam peta keluaran China sebagai terkandung dalam Nine-Dash-Line yang melanggar prinsip UNCLOS yang mana China merupakan salah sebuah negara yang telah meratifikasi perjanjian tersebut.

Keadaan ini diburukkan lagi dengan satu undang-undang yang digubal pada 22 Januari 2021 di China membenarkan kapal-kapal CCG untuk menggunakan kekerasan termasuk menembak mana-mana kapal yang dianggap menceroboh kawasan yang dituntutnya. Nelayan-nelayan Vietnam dan Filipina pernah menerima padah berhadapan dengan kapal-kapal CCG sebelum ini, dan keadaan ini memaksa para nelayan Vietnam untuk belayar jauh ke selatan untuk menangkap ikan. Akibatnya, mereka memasuki ZEE milik Malaysia di mana keadaan mendesak mereka untuk bertindak ganas supaya tidak ditangkap oleh pihak Maritim Malaysia. Umum tahu salah satu insiden telah berakhir dengan kematian seorang nelayan Vietnam.

Kegagalan ASEAN dan China untuk menyelesaikan masalah Code of Conduct (CoC) sejak 2002 juga memainkan peranan membenarkan China meluaskan tuntutannya di SCS. Walaupun ini merupakan permasalahan yang dipertanggung jawabkan kepada Kementerian Luar Negeri (Wisma Putra), Maritim Malaysia terpaksa menanggung risiko serta akibat kegagalan tersebut.

Kehadiran Duta China ke Malaysia yang baharu, Ouyang Yujing, juga sedikit-sebanyak memberi isyarat bayangan kepada Malaysia dan ASEAN bahawa China akan terus cuba menekan Malaysia sebagai salah sebuah negara yang menuntut sebahagian wilayah Kepulauan Spratly supaya menerima tuntutan China ataupun berkompromi untuk adakan kerjasama di wilayah tersebut. Ouyang Yujing yang dahulunya merupakan bekas Ketua Pengarah Bahagian Hal Ehwal Sempadan dan Lautan China dikatakan lebih berpengalaman dan lebih berwibawa menangani isu CoC dan SCS berbanding Duta sebelumnya iaitu Bai Tian. Ini sudah tentu menyukarkan lagi penyelesaian CoC SCS yang cuba dicapai sebelum akhir tahun 2021.

Sejak Disember 2020, iaitu setelah digantung selama 11 bulan akibat pandemik COVID-19, China telah memperkenalkan semula pelayaran kapal mewah membawa para pelancong China ke Kepulauan Paracel. Di antara agenda pelayaran ini ialah untuk membolehkan para peserta mendarat di salah sebuah pulau yang dituntutnya dan diadakan satu upacara menaikkan bendera negara China serta sumpah setia mempertahankan Kepulauan Paracel (Xisha) daripada ancaman lain-lain negara.

Inilah realiti yang mungkin dan bakal dihadapi oleh Maritim Malaysia pasca sambutan hari ulangtahunnya yang ke-16, di mana China mungkin membawa kapal-kapal mewah ini ke Beting Patinggi Ali (Luconia Shoals) dan Beting Serupai (James Shoal) di luar pesisir pantai negeri Sarawak dengan diiringi kapal-kapal ronda CCG dan lakukan perkara yang sama untuk memperkuatkan tuntutannya ke atas kedua-dua beting tersebut. Bagaimanakah tindakbalas yang akan ditunjukkan oleh pihak Maritim Malaysia sekiranya ianya tidak dilengkapi dengan aset-aset yang lebih berkeupayaan adalah menjadi suatu tanda tanya.

Selagi CoC tidak mendapat persetujuan kesemua pihak yang membuat tuntutan, dan dihormati oleh China, sehingga itu Maritim Malaysia akan terpaksa berhadapan dengan masalah nelayan Vietnam dan keangkuhan kapal-kapal ronda CCG di wilayah maritim Malaysia.

PENDATANG TANPA IZIN (PATI) DAN PELARIAN ROHINGYA

Pada 13 November 2020 dilaporkan dalam suatu sidang media bahawa terdapat lebih kurang 20,000 orang PATI yang berada dalam tahanan di seluruh negara. Ini bermakna kerajaan membelanjakan sebanyak RM800,000 sehari untuk menyediakan makanan untuk kesemua PATI yang ditahan ini. Ini menjadikan jumlah perbelanjaan yang ditanggung pembayar cukai untuk makanan harian PATI yang ditahan sebanyak RM24 juta sebulan.

Bagi kos ujian saringan COVID-19 yang ditanggung oleh pembayar cukai untuk 20,000 PATI yang ditahan ini, ianya berjumlah RM60 juta untuk sekali calitan. Ini tidak termasuk kos rawatan yang ditanggung pembayar cukai sekiranya mereka didapati positif COVID-19. Bukankah wang ini lebih baik dibelanjakan untuk kebajikan dan kesejahteraan rakyat kita sendiri?

Maka, adalah tidak masuk akal radio-radio karat yang meminta kerajaan lebih bersikap prihatin terhadap PATI terutamanya pelarian Rohingya yang sering mengambil kesempatan ke atas keprihatinan rakyat Malaysia untuk menjadikan negara ini destinasi pilihan kerana peluang yang disediakan oleh jaringan perniagaan yang menunggu mereka di sini.

Masalah kemakmuran ekonomi di Malaysia serta pandemik COVID-19 menjadi bebanan kepada Maritim Malaysia serta lain-lain agensi sokongan kerana terpaksa menentukan PATI dan pelarian Rohingya dihalang dari memasuki perairan negara dan bukannya ditahan. Penguatkuasaan seumpama ini adalah lebih sukar dari tindakan tangkapan yang kini menjadi pilihan terakhir agar tidak ada mana-mana petugas barisan hadapan di perairan kita terdedah kepada jangkitan COVID-19. Sebarang penambahan jumlah PATI yang ditahan adalah bebanan yang terpaksa ditanggung oleh pembayar cukai dan para petugas barisan hadapan.

Tambahan pula, baru-baru ini dilaporkan seramai 200 orang pelarian Rohingya telah melarikan diri dari kem pelarian di Lhokseumawe, Aceh untuk mencari cara untuk ke Malaysia juga. Pelarian ini adalah dari kalangan mereka yang telah menaiki bot dengan bantuan sindiket dari kem pelarian di Bangladesh yang telah gagal menyelinap masuk ke dalam perairan Malaysia setelah diusir atau dihalang oleh penguatkuasaan yang kuat dan terpaksa mendarat di Aceh.

Dibantu oleh sindiket di Indonesia, mereka dan PATI dari Indonesia bergerak dari Aceh ke Medan, dan seterusnya ke Tanjung Balai di mana mereka akan menaiki bot-bot menuju ke pantai-pantai negeri Selangor seperti di Kapar, Sungai Besar, Morib dan Sabak Bernam. Selain negeri Selangor, negeri Sabah juga menjadi tumpuan PATI dari Selatan Filipina dan Indonesia. Di antara bulan Januari hingga 23 Oktober tahun lalu, seramai 6,782 orang PATI yang berada dalam tahanan di negeri Sabah telah dihantar pulang.

Di sini kesedaran rakyat Malaysia terhadap masalah PATI dan pelarian Rohingya serta sokongan terhadap usaha Maritim Malaysia menghalang kemasukan mereka ini adalah amat penting untuk kekuatan moral mereka yang terpaksa berhadapan dengan masalah ini. Usaha Maritim Malaysia untuk membendung dan menghalang kemasukan PATI dan pelarian Rohingya bukanlah suatu perkara yang mudah; malah ianya disukarkan lagi dengan tanggapan negatif oleh NGO-NGO dan rakyat Malaysia sendiri yang tidak faham kesan negatif terhadap mereka dan negara.

PENANGKAPAN IKAN SECARA HARAM (IUU) DI ERA PANDEMIK COVID-19

Penangkapan ikan secara haram, tidak berlapor dan tidak terkawal (illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing) juga dilaporkan telah memberi kerugian sebanyak RM6 bilion kepada negara pada tahun 2019.

IIU bukan sahaja bermakna pelakunya adalah bot nelayan asing (BNA) tetapi juga bot nelayan tempatan (BNT) yang menangkap ikan di luar zon atau kawasan yang dibenarkan, sebagai contoh: bot nelayan laut dalam Kelas C2 menangkap ikan di zon Kelas B atau Kelas C, atau bot nelayan yang berdaftar di negeri Terengganu menangkap ikan di negeri Johor.

Penjualan ikan di tengah laut, memberi laporan palsu mengenai jumlah tangkapan, penggunaan peralatan yang dilarang seperti Pukat Sorong, pukat tunda dua bot, Bubu Naga, Pukat Pari, bahan letupan – kesemua ini terangkum di dalam definisi IIU.

BNA dari Vietnam, Thailand dan Indonesia sering mencerobohi perairan kita untuk menangkap ikan. Sebelum era pandemik COVID-19, penguatkuasaan adalah lebih mudah kerana agensi-agensi seperti Maritim Malaysia bertindak dengan menahan BNA serta awak-awak, dan ini menjadi satu bentuk pencegahan terhadap BNA yang lain. Namun, kerana sebab yang telah dinyatakan di atas, penahanan dan tangkapan bukan lagi menjadi langkah yang digalakkan untuk membendung penularan pandemik COVID-19.

Masalah IIU di Laut China Selatan (SCS) berhubung kait rapat dengan pertindihan tuntutan ke atas Kepulauan Paracel dan Spratly, dan juga penangkapan ikan berlebihan di Vietnam. Sejak 1997 lagi sudah terdapat laporan mengenai kegiatan penangkapan ikan berlebihan di Vietnam yang menyebabkan pengurangan mendadak sumber perikanan di negara tersebut. Ini diburukkan lagi dengan ketiadaan sebarang bentuk pengurusan sumber perikanan walaupun terdapat undang-undang untuk menguruskan hal itu di negara tersebut. 20 tahun kemudian, perkara yang sama masih dilaporkan oleh Vietnam di mana Jawatankuasa Tetap Dewan Negara Vietnam (NASC) menzahirkan perasaan risau kerana kehidupan laut di sepanjang 3,200 kilometer pesisiran laut negara tersebut dikatakan pupus.

“Dulu kita menangkap ikan dengan terlalu banyak. Kini kesemua laut kita – Bach Long Vy, Truong Sa atau Phu Quoc sudah kosong,” kata bekas Timbalan Ketua Staf Tentera Darat Vietnam, Leftenan-Jeneral Pham Ngoc Minh kepada Jawatankuasa Tetap tersebut.

“Inilah punca nelayan kita keluar menangkap ikan di perairan negara lain dan ditahan.”

Di Selat Melaka, pencerobohan oleh BNA Indonesia pula menjadi-jadi kerana penguatkuasaan lebih kepada tindakan mengusir keluar BNA dari perairan. Oleh kerana kekangan terhadap cara penguatkuasaan akibat pandemik COVID-19, kita dapat melihat bagaimana BNA Indonesia giat lakukan penangkapan ikan sehingga 10 batu nautika ke dalam perairan kita di antara tenggara Pulau Pinang hingga ke pertengahan perairan negeri Perak.

Di antara bulan Januari 2020 hingga Oktober 2020, sebanyak 89 buah bot nelayan asing ditahan bersama-sama 912 orang tekong dan awak-awak. Jumlah terbesar adalah BNA Vietnam iaitu sebanyak 73 buah dan 820 orang tekong dan awak-awak. Ini diikuti BNA China (7 buah dan 72 orang tekong dan awak-awak), BNA Indonesia (6 buah dan 17 orang tekong dan awak-awak), dan BNA Thailand (3 buah dan 4 orang tekong dan awak-awak). Dari segi kawasan pula, 72 buah BNA ditahan di Laut China Selatan, 10 buah di perairan selatan Johor, 4 di Selat Melaka dan 1 di Laut Sulu.

Masalah IIU ini meruncing sejak Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (PKP) mula dikenakan pada 8 Mac 2020 di mana SOP penguatkuasaan lebih kepada tindakan pengusiran untuk mengurangkan beban ke atas pusat-pusat tahanan serta sistem pengurusan kesihatan negara. Di antara tarikh mula PKP hingga 30 November 2020, sebanyak 591 buah BNA telah diusir. Dari jumlah tersebut, 445 telah diusir dari perairan negeri Perak di mana 388 telah diusir sepanjang bulan November 2020 sahaja! Inilah dilema yang dihadapi oleh Maritim Malaysia mempertahankan kedaulatan perairan negara.

PENGOPERASIAN ASET DAN MASALAH PENGUATKUASAAN

Sebagai sebuah agensi yang masih baharu, Maritim Malaysia telah banyak menempa kejayaan walaupun dengan keadaan yang tidak begitu kondusif. Dengan jumlah keanggotaan sekitar 4,000 orang, Maritim Malaysia dilengkapi dengan lebih kurang 70 buah kapal peronda bersaiz melebihi 20 meter, lebih kurang 170 buah bot peronda laju berukuran kurang 20 meter, enam buah pesawat sayap putar dan dua buah pesawat sayap kaku.

Sebahagian besar kapal peronda adalah merupakan perolehan melalui pindah milik termasuk aset-aset dari Japan Coast Guard (JCG), Australian Border Force, Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia dan Polis DiRaja Malaysia. Maritim Malaysia kini dalam proses menambah keupayaan dengan perolehan lebih banyak kapal peronda terutamanya yang berukuran lebih 40 meter untuk meningkatkan keupayaan rondaan terutamanya di Laut China Selatan (SCS).

Walaupun jumlah kapal dan bot peronda milik Maritim Malaysia menjangkau lebih 200 buah, bukan sahaja ianya tidak mencukupi tetapi aset-aset pindah milik yang diterima sudah berusia lebih 20 tahun. Lebih kurang 30 peratus kapal ronda berukuran lebih 20 meter sudah berusia lebih 30 tahun.

Satu lagi masalah yang dihadapi ialah apabila penahanan BNA ataupun BNT dilakukan, bot-bot tersebut perlu ditunda balik dengan segera untuk proses seterusnya sementara tekong dan awak-awak ditahan dan bahan kes yang disita dan disimpan di lokap dan bilik simpanan Maritim Malaysia yang diwartakan.

Ini bermakna kapal peronda yang terbabit perlu tinggalkan kawasan operasi untuk menunda BNA dan BNT tersebut. Kawasan operasi yang ditinggalkan terbuka kepada lain-lain BNA dan BNT untuk dicerobohi. Bayangkan sekiranya penahanan dilakukan di jarak 150 batu nautika, penundaan satu hala akan mengambil lebih kurang 30 jam atau lebih, dan untuk belayar kembali ke kawasan operasi akan mengambil masa lapan jam. Ini tidak termasuk masa yang dihabiskan untuk laporan-laporan yang perlu dibuat berkaitan penahanan tersebut. Sudah tentu dalam masa dua hari atau lebih tersebut, BNA terutamanya akan bermaharajalela di kawasan tersebut mengaut khazanah negara yang menguntungkan negara mereka.

Maritim Malaysia telah pun mencadang kepada Kementerian Dalam Negeri supaya perolehan kapal-kapal jenis Multi Purpose Mission Ship (MPMS) dibuat untuk membantu mengatasi masalah ini. BNA dan BNT yang ditahan di zon-zon melebih 30 batu nautika boleh ditunda dari kawasan operasi ke MPMS yang berhampiran. Perjalanan balik ke kawasan operasi mengambil masa kurang lima jam. MPMS-MPMS ini juga dilengkapi lokap untuk menempatkan tekong dan awak-awak yang ditahan.

Ruang tempat tidur yang banyak juga membolehkan kru gantian kapal-kapal peronda Maritim Malaysia bermalam di situ sebelum menggantikan kru yang sudah lama berada di kawasan operasi. Ini bermakna penjimatan kos jangka panjang akan berlaku kerana proses ulangbekal tidak akan mengambil masa yang lama dan kapal boleh berada di kawasan operasi dengan lebih lama tanpa perlu pulang ke pangkalan dengan kerap.

Mungkin penambahan yang perlu untuk Maritim Malaysia ialah perolehan beberapa buah kapal tunda (tug boat) berukuran 20 hingga 30 meter berkeupayaan menarik di antara 70 tan hingga 100 tan (bollard pull) untuk menunda BNA dan BNT yang ditahan di MPMS. Selain itu, kapal-kapal tunda tersebut boleh dijadikan juga sebagai crew boat untuk menghantar dan membawa balik kru kapal-kapal peronda.

Jumlah pesawat sayap kaku dan sayap putar juga perlu ditambah terutamanya untuk pengoperasian di Labuan, Sandakan, Bintulu dan Kuching. Jumlah yang sedia ada di Stesen Udara Maritim Malaysia Subang sangat tidak mencukupi untuk liputan rondaan dan tugas MSAR di seluruh negara. Adalah diharap pihak kerajaan dapat mempercepatkan perolehan-perolehan bukan sahaja aset-aset udara, tetapi juga aset-aset laut yang sangat diperlukan untuk penugasan dan penguatkuasaan yang lebih berkesan.

KESIMPULAN

Dalam usia yang begitu muda Maritim Malaysia sudah menampakkan kematangannya yang dicapai sebelum usia. Namun, kerajaan perlu pro-aktif mencari dana untuk mempercepatkan perolehan aset-aset dan sumber manusia yang sangat diperlukan oleh Maritim Malaysia.

Dalam pada masa yang sama, saluran diplomatik yang lebih jitu dengan negara-negara jiran yang mempunyai tuntutan bertindih amat diperlukan untuk menangani pencerobohan oleh nelayan militia China serta CCG. Mungkin sudah sampai masanya untuk kembali kepada konsep MAPHILINDO yang pernah diutarakan oleh Presiden Macapagal sebelum berlakunya Konfrontasi 1963-1966, dengan cadangan penyertaan Vietnam dan Brunei untuk berhadapan dengan ancaman China.

Campurtangan China terutamanya dengan mempengaruhi beberapa buah negara anggota ASEAN untuk berpihak kepadanya dalam rundingan CoC dan DoC Laut China Selatan (SCS) hanya akan membantu melengah-lengahkan sebarang jenis persetujuan dan memberi masa kepadanya untuk memperluaskan pengaruhnya di SCS. Penulis berpendapat bahawa ASEAN tidak boleh menjadi platform untuk menyelesaikan masalah SCS kerana tidak semua negara anggota (Singapura, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar dan Thailand) mempunyai kepentingan di SCS. Indonesia yang pada mulanya tidak mempunyai kepentingan kerana tidak mempunyai tuntutan bertindih kini terpaksa memainkan peranan di SCS kerana pencerobohan-pencerobohan yang pernah dilakukan oleh CCG.

Bagi Maritim Malaysia, kesemua cabaran yang sedang dan bakal dihadapi ini akan menjadikannya lebih matang dan berwibawa, membuktikannya sebagai sebuah organisasi barisan hadapan yang bukan sahaja mempertahankan kedaulatan negara tetapi amat serius melakukannya.

Selamat Hari Ulangtahun Ke-16, Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia. Teruskan mengawal, melindung dan menyelamat.

The China Mahathir So Loved

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Mahathir visiting China in 1985 (courtesy of Penerangan Malaysia)

The ‘Ping Pong Diplomacy’ between Malaysia and China that happened in 1971 was a marked departure from the policy on China set by Tunku Abdul Rahman.  While Tunku blamed China for its support for the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), Tun Abdul Razak saw it necessary to engage China to end its support for the CPM.

When Mahathir took over the premiership in 1981, he placed importance on economic development and not so much foreign policy.  Three years earlier, Deng Xiao Ping had also placed China under a process of economic modernisation.  However, although there was an increase in bilateral economic and trade exchanges with China, the percentage of that compared to the overall trade declined.  In the 10 years since the beginning of formal diplomatic relations, economic and trade exchanges between the two countries was at 3.5 percent of Malaysia’s total trade.  This number fell to just 1.5 percent in 1984 (Stephen Leong, “Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China in the 1980s: Political Vigilance and Economic Pragmatism”, Asian Survey, Vol. 27, No. 10, October 1987, p.1114).

In a speech at Qing Hua University, Beijing in November 1985, an alarmed Mahathir said: “My own country`s bilateral trade with China has in fact declined since 1980 and this is despite the widely held view that China`s modernisation would increase the opportunities for trade and economic links.”

Mahathir saw China as a very important partner that could help the modernisation of Malaysia’s economy so much so that the delegation that he brought with him on that first visit in 1985 was huge. In a speech given during that visit he said:

I have brought with me a large delegation of leading Malaysian entrepreneurs and businessmen. It is my hope that with your cooperation they would be able to fully explore further opportunities for trade and economic cooperation.

Mahathir made six other visits to China between 1993 and 2001, a display of the importance of China in his economic policies.  A year after he began his administration, trade with China stood at USD307 million.  This jumped to USD1.4 billion ten years later.  A year before he stepped down, it was at USD14 billion.

Mahathir led another large trade delegation to China in 1993 and 1994 with China returning the favour towards the end of 1994.  Of China’s communist ideology, Mahathir in his speech during the 2nd Malaysia-China Forum in Beijing in August 1996 said:

China has come in for special attention. For years it had been condemned for being Communist and isolationist, practising a close centrally planned economy. Now it has opened up and has adopted a version of the universally acclaimed market system. Instead of being welcomed to the fold, it is looked upon with fear and suspicion. The World Bank has sounded the alarm by predicting that China will emerge in the 21st Century as the greatest world economic power. And fear of China has mounted.”

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Mahathir’s visit to China (courtesy of Penerangan Malaysia)

Hence, we can see that it has never bothered Mahathir that China is a communist country, and working with China does not turn a country into a communist one.  China was so important to Mahathir that he wanted to see his proposal for a regional consultative group, namely the East Asia Economic Group (EAEG) take flight with US and US-leaning countries accepting China.  This, however, was not to be.  To his dismay, Japan refused as it was closely linked to the USA which had formed APEC; South Korea refused as the EAEC proposed by Mahathir would have placed Japan at the centre of the organisation.

During the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98, the Chinese Government assumed a highly responsible attitude. It provided assistance to all the affected countries including Malaysia within the framework of the IMF arrangements and through bilateral channels.  The decision of not devaluating the Renminbi, for which China paid a high price, assisted ASEAN countries affected by the crisis to pull through.

During his visit to China in August 1999, Mahathir thanked China in his speech:

China`s concern for the well-being of East Asia in the financial crisis has been most laudable. The regional economies and the global community at large greatly appreciate China`s decision — despite strong pressures — not to devalue the Yuan. Beijing`s cooperation and high sense of responsibility has spared the region of a much worse consequence. Renminbi devaluation would almost certainly result in a new round of currency devaluation by the affected economies.”

The crisis had brought both Malaysia and China closer together, both Mahathir and China promised better cooperation.  In June 1999, Malaysia and China agreed to invest around USD2.5 billion to develop a Trans-Asia Railway from Singapore to Kunming passing, without doubt, through Malaysia.  Mahathir welcomed China to play an active role in the railroad construction.

When Premier Zhu Rongji visited Malaysia in November 1999, an overwhelmed Mahathir said in his speech:

We appreciate the decision of the PRC to participate in the pulp and paper projects in Sabah. I understand that this project is valued at RM4.3 billion is the PRC’s largest investment in the region. We hope as many PRC companies will try to explore the investment opportunities available in Malaysia.”

However, it is so wrong now for China to help Malaysia build the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).  Every single investment by China in Malaysia is seen as ‘selling away our rights and sovereignty’ but it was not the case back then.

I often wonder if Mahathir is jealous that Najib Razak is doing better, or if he (or his agents) is not getting a slice of the cake?  He seems to be the only one making noise about China’s investments in Malaysia although, at less than three percent of the total FDI, is at the 10th place of the largest Foreign Direct Investments in Malaysia – the largest being Singapore.  Why is China being made the scapegoat?

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Mahathir, Siti Hasmah, and a very young Marina visit the Great Wall of China. We wonder what post Marina held that she tagged along on an official trip and if she had travelled by normal flights herself as Najib’s family did. If not, who foot her bill for her? (courtesy of Penerangan Malaysia)

Which is why DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has been silent on the issue of Forest City for the longest time – as he can see how it benefits his parliamentary constituency, very much unlike Mahathir whose hatred for Najib surpasses the needs of his political partners and voters.

During a conference on Assessing ASEAN’s Readiness by Country at the Napalai Ballroom, Dusit Thani hotel in Bangkok on 17 September 2013, the nonagenarian said:

We have been trading with China for almost 2,000 years. China was very big, most developed nation in the past, they could have conquered us but they didn’t. They came and lived in Malaysia but they didn’t conquer us. And I don’t want to be in any confrontation with China. China is a good trading nation with 1.4 billion people.

And suddenly after 2,000 years of peaceful co-existence, just because Najib Razak is now the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the China that Mahathir so loved wants to invade us?

That, to me, sounds blatant hypocrisy.

(This posting was first published by The Mole)

The Myanmar Muddle

When it comes to the Rohingya problem, Malaysia has always been voicing out her concerns regarding the issue.

In September 2012, the Royal Malaysian Navy’s KD Indera Sakti delivered 480 tonnes of aid to the Rohingyas through the port of Sittwe.

The Royal Malaysian Navy’s multi-role support ship KD Indera Sakti

At the peak of the Rohingya refugee crisis last year, only Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to temporarily shelter 7,000 Rohingya refugees. Malaysia also deployed five naval assets to provide assistance to the boat people.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak also joined thousands in a rally at a stadium in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month to show his concerns regarding the Rohingyan plight as they continue to be massacred by anti-Islamic parties in Myanmar while the Myanmarese government turn a blind eye on Rakhine.

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman also called for a meeting with his ASEAN counterparts to discuss the problem.

ASEAN ministers meeting on the Rohingya problem

In attendance was Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has denied the rights of the Rohingya.

New York Times report on Aung San Suu Kyii’s refusal to address the Rohingya problem

Malaysia’s stand has won the admiration of many Rohingya in Malaysia and abroad. I met several in Saudi Arabia recently who said Malaysia’s stern voice has provided some relief to the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

One of those whom I met was Shah, a hotel cleaner who has lived in Saudi Arabia for the past 19 years. Although he has never been to Malaysia, he was singing praises as news from home said that the oppression has slowed down after Malaysia voiced out its concerns.

Shah the cleaner from Myanmar who is happy with Malaysia’s stand on the Rohingya issue

It is hoped that Malaysia would be able to get other ASEAN members to find a sustainable long-term solution to the problem and continue to be the voice for the Rohingya. 

Negarasawan

Back in 1998 after Anwar Ibrahim was sacked from UMNO and the rakyat rose against Mahathir, I used to tell friends who were in UMNO that it was wrong to burn your house down just because you quarrel with a sibling.  Instead, you should sit down with that sibling and other family members and work out the differences and find a middle ground.  Last night, Najib Razak who is UMNO’s President made the same call through his Facebook posting asking UMNO members to work differences out amicably. As members of a large family there is bound to be disagreements but this could be solved through discussions as UMNO members are brethren.

This is of utmost importance.  UMNO has gone through many trials and tribulations from the days of Dato Onn Jaafar who left the party to form another back in the 1950s, to the attacks on UMNO by a nonagenarian of Kerala-descent that the party faces now.  It has been the unity of UMNO members that has stopped all attempts to break it apart.  The UMNO members have to realise this.

UMNO is not just being attacked by its trditional enemies and former members.  It is also being threatened by colleagues from component parties for showing ‘support’ to the amendments to the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, 1965 sought by PAS President Haji Hadi Awang.  It was last revised in 1988 and since its passing 51 years ago, not a single non-Muslim person has ever been charged in a Syariah court for not fasting during the month of Ramadhan nor has there been any case of a non-Muslim being charged in court for fornication.  So why should it be any different now?

Talking about unity, someone caused disunity in ASEAN 19 years ago when he fought to have Myanmar admitted as a member. Yes, Myanmar became a member of ASEAN despite concerns regarding the military junta’s treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the oppression of minorities.

Mahathir said:  “I fought hard for Myanmar to be admitted into ASEAN.”  Yes, it was his idea.  According to his now-bosom-buddy Lim Kit Siang in June 2005, it is Mahathir who must bear the greatest responsibility for the ASEAN admission of Myanmar in the 1997 ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur despite strong regional and international reservations and opposition. It was Mahathir who was a staunch supporter of ASEAN’s founding principle of non-interference, a principle that has allowed the group to develop economic ties without being pulled into each other’s domestic problems, that has caused this policy to be severely tested when Myanmar entered into ASEAN in July 1997.

In June of last year he tried to push the buck back to the present government.  For those who said that Najib Razak has done nothing to help the Rohingyas, due to the ASEAN principle of non-interference, the most the government could do is to get Myanmar to be committed in dialogues with other neighbours on this issue. Despite that, this present government shipped 480 tonnes of food, neccessities to the Rohingyas in Myanmar in September 2012 through the port of Sittwe, Myanmar. And last year, Najib Razak announced that Malaysia will give assistance to the Rohingya boat people. The Royal Malaysian Navy led the effort to give assistance to the boat people.

Since Mahathir is jobless, can’t afford to hire cooks, can’t afford to buy flight tickets that he needed a private jet to take him everywhere, and his Vision 2020 to have his son as the Prime Minister is now in tatters, Mahathir should now organise a series of demonstrations in Yangon.  I am pretty certain his DAP friends would be willing to finance his trip there.

Let us see if he would take up this challenge and prove that he is still a negarawan and not the negarasawan that he has turned into.

Pathetic. Go sit in a mosque and repent!
Pathetic. Go sit in a mosque and repent!

How Kutty Destroyed Melaka Kutty Will Destroy Malaysia

Mahathir named Soros as the person behind the currency attacks of 1997-98
Mahathir named Soros as the person behind the currency attacks of 1997-98

It was a well-coordinated efforts to destabilise Asean currencies for self-serving purposes,” said a joint-comunique by ASEAN Foreign Ministers in 1997 on the serious attacks by George Soros and his Open Society Institute on ASEAN currencies.  Pribumi founder, Mahathir, who was the Prime Minister then said Soros was using the wealth under his control to punish Asean for welcoming Burma. “There is definite evidence that we cannot disclose,” he said. “There is no doubt he did it.

Yesterday, minutes of meeting that happened on the 22nd June 2015 between Soros’s Open Society Foundation with local opposition-leaning organisations such as but not limited to the likes of the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research was made available by DC Leaks, the same organisation that exposed Hillary Clinton’s e-mails scandal.

Plans have been made to mobilise what has been named as the ‘Malaysia Programme – Portfolio Review Outcome Summary‘ to influence domestic politics in anticipation of the 14th General Elections that is expected to be held by May of 2018.  The programme includes:

  • Greater mobilisation of the Muslim population as current involvement is not satisfactory.
  • Greater mobilisation of minority groups, women, Orang Asli and rural youth.
  • Engage with Election Commission, explore any possibility of policy reform, and identify clear policy targets.
  • Begin the process of leveraging the programmes’ existing networks in the country from this year onwards.
  • Develop a strong post-election mechanism to ensure documentation of any dispute can be quickly presented, unlike the 2013 election.

Other revelations:

  • OSF monitors and attempts to chart domestic politics since 2010, shortly after Datuk Seri Najib Razak assumed the office of prime minister.
  • The foundation had engaged in lobbying or “advocacy” in the US to shore up support for its efforts in Malaysia.
  • The most successful initiative was making “grants” or providing funds for friendly groups working for a common cause.
  • Following negative media exposure of Soros, the programme has proceeded in secret, with staff working quietly to minimise public exposure.
  • MalaysiaKini and its online broadcast service KiniTV received special allocations for election reporting, with ongoing support outside the election season.

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The three pages of the minutes that were leaked by DC Leaks

Merdeka Centre’s Ibrahim Suffian admitted that he was among the attendees along with OSF’s President, Christopher Stone.  OSF has been providing “grants” to “local networks” and while no NGO was named, Mahathir-friendly BERSIH’s recently-arrested Chairman Maria Chin admitted to having received such grant.

The OSF does not only meddle in Malaysia but encourages “coloured” protests in Asia (where in Malaysia it is YELLOW) and also seeks to influence elections in the European Union. So, how can BERSIH be a free and fair movement when it is actually doing the bidding for a foreign megalomaniac?

It is odd but hardly surprising that Mahathir, who just last year said that street rallies were not the way to get what was desired and that this should be seen as a last resort, has announced that he has his own BERSIH 5 t-shirt and will be attending the rally.  Mahathir, after all, is now shedding his Malay skin. The survival of the Malays and the cohesion of the multiracial society is no longer of any significance to him. All that matters is for him to fulfill his personal agenda and interests whatever it is that those may be. For that he is willing to work with his sworn enemies such as Lim Kit Siang, Mohammad Sabu, Anwar Ibrahim.

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He even made friends with Malaysian-enemy-numero-uno George Soros himself! He buried the hatchet used to attack Soros even back in December 2006 saying, “You (Soros) personally are not involved but the devaluation was done by other traders and I accept that you are not involved.

mahathirsoros

So was he wrong about Soros? Were all those suicides, broken marriages, depression caused by loss of income and closure of businesses back in 1997-98 not the result of Soros’s attacks on Asian currencies? Mahathir was cocksure it was Soros who did it! If he was wrong then, what else could he be wrong about?

Being funded by a megalomaniac to influence the outcome of elections is not a democratic process. Working for foreigners to form a government that kowtows to them is nothing short of treason.  Societies will be destroyed, the spirit of our independence diluted, the way of life as we know it will no longer be there. Races will be pitted against one another. Resentment will grow to biblical proportions. Blood will be spilt and lives will be lost.

In the end, foreign troops will walk all over us.

Therefore in my book, both BERSIH and Mahathir are traitors.

Just as how one Kutty brought down the Melaka empire by opening the gates to foreign soldiers 505 years ago.

The Plight Of The Rohingyas: A Test Of Moral Conscience

As thousands of Rohingyas turn up in the waters off Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, thousands more die in the high seas never to find the refuge they sought. Myanmar meanwhile continues to turn a blind eye on the issue. These boat people are no longer in Myanmar waters, therefore they are no longer Myanmar’s problem. Hundreds have been slaughtered by unscrupulous human traffickers in “camps” in areas in Southern Thailand. Even the highly-celebrated champion of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, has admitted that she is a politician and “not a moral organisation or anything like that.” Disgusting is the only way I could describe her reaction, for a lack of better word.

I do not envy the position of the Malaysian government. Myanmar is part of the ASEAN brethren. Thousands of Rohingyas have already sought refuge in Malaysia in the past, and Malaysia has always been the country preferred by boat people to land at.  After the fall of Saigon in April 1975, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees appeared on the shores of Malaysia.  Those in their 50s might remember the plight of thousands of refugees on board the MV Hai Hong and how Bidong island, off Terengganu’s idyllic village of Merang, housed thousands of Vietnamese. Very few countries agreed to accept some of these refugees. Thousands more were stranded in Sungai Besi, forgotten if not by all, and became a problem for Malaysia up until the early 1990s.

Finally, Prime Minister Najib Razak came out with a statement of concern on his blog. And I wondered how would Malaysia start with helping these refugees, I found this on an acquaintance’s Twitter post:

  
May God bless Malaysia and continue to guide the leadership to continue to make the correct decisions.

Meanwhile, all other ASEAN nations should take a hardline stand on Myanmar and compel its government to put a stop to the persecution of the Rohingyas. This is to be a test on ASEAN’s members’ moral conscience, jointly and severally.