Anwar: Malaysia needs substantive support, aid from the West

Anwar called US foreign policy inconsistent, contradicting and arrogant. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Anwar called US foreign policy inconsistent, contradicting and arrogant. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim believes Malaysia’s reform agenda needs more “substantive” support and assistance from the US to prevent a return to autocratic rule.

Anwar told Washington Post columnist, Josh Rogin, in an interview recently that he is baffled by the Trump administration’s lack of attention towards political developments in Malaysia, which is trying to be a strong democracy built on ideals “true to the United States”.

“I think you should look at the broader picture. We are democrats, we are true to the ideals of the United States,” Anwar was quoted as saying.

“I’m proud to say the change is quite indigenous. But having said that, now having achieved some measure of success, you should support that.” 

In a speech at the Canadian embassy on Monday night, Anwar said many of the world’s totalitarian states are allowed to flourish because they received tacit support from Western governments.

The Port Dickson MP then warned that authoritarians often use the “trappings of democracy” to lull the free world into complicity. 

“The ambivalence of advanced democracies in light of these clear abuses of power along with the tacit approval of the corporate sector and other international institutions is quite distressing,” the Washington Post quoted Anwar as saying.

“The survival of autocrats and dictators is largely due to the tacit approval of the West. This is a fact not lost on the people suffering under these regimes.” 

Anwar called US foreign policy inconsistent, contradicting and arrogant, noting that Malaysians have watched US presidents from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump support autocratic rulers while paying only occasional attention to human rights and democratic values. 

The columnist, in echoing Anwar’s views, suggested that Washington must make Malaysia a key ally in the East, noting that leaders like Anwar and his Pakatan Harapan coalition stood for genuine democratic values.

With the Pakatan Harapan government beset by challenges on all sides, Anwar said now is the time for the West to provide support.