KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — Malaysia interpreted a US démarche gravely given the circumstances under which it was received, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir said in the Dewan Rakyat today.
While the minister acknowledged that a démarche could have various purposes, he pointed out that the one Malaysia received from the US was over Putrajaya’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war.
“As we know, (the démarches) were not sent in a vacuum, it’s not out of a sudden they sent it, there must be a cause and effect and reasons to why it was sent, that’s first.
“Secondly, in what context (was it sent)? And thirdly in what kind of crisis, as we know what is happening now is a very serious crisis that has been done by a super power,” Zambry said during his winding-up speech for the debate on Budget 2024.
The US State Department defined a démarche as a “formal diplomatic representation of its official position, views, or wishes on a given subject” which seeks to “persuade, inform, or gather information from a foreign government”, or to “protest or object to actions by a foreign government”.
Zambry was responding to several MPs who asked for the government’s explanation on the seriousness of the three démarches sent to Malaysia.
“And we cannot take this lightly — what was sent — we cannot take for granted, this is not the first time (a démarche was sent), followed by the second and third démarche, and not only that, and then what happened with our ambassador in Washington.
“So based on the context, in this context now, Malaysia needs to take measures and how will be take them, among them, as what was suggested was to send protest notices, or call their ambassador, so we will use all these approaches to convey our views and stand.
“For instance, in the context of the démarche, we were asked to state our stand and state our sympathy, we said no. Because Malaysia’s position — Malaysia’s principle is very clear, in terms of the Palestinian struggle — it’s not something new, since back in the day, and we need to affirm this when we interact with them (US government),” Zambry said.
Malaysia’s ambassador to the United States Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz reportedly revealed that the country’s State Department had expressed its displeasure with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s statements that criticised Israel and labelled the Zionist regime as “terrorists”.
News portal Astro Awani quoted Nazri saying that the State Department had even requested for Malaysia to issue a statement sympathetic to Israel, which he said was impossible for Malaysia.
During the Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday, Anwar said that the US had exerted pressure on Malaysia, with its State Department calling up the country’s ambassador in Washington over the matter.
His office also confirmed with the press that Putrajaya had received a démarche notice from the United States on the Palestine-Israel conflict on October 13, while the US Deputy Chief of Mission to Malaysia, Chargé d’Affaires Manu Bhalla, had called on a deputy secretary-general of Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.