MP's superficial grasp of world diplomacy, Malaysian foreign policy — Anifah Aman

JANUARY 8 — The sweeping statement by Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen that “Malaysia’s Foreign Policy had become one of the worst in the world since Prime Minister Najib Razak assumed office” which appeared in articles by Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar and K Pragalath on January 6, 2016 reflects a superficial grasp of the intricacies of the world of diplomacy and a lack of understanding of the development of Malaysia’s foreign policy over the years.

Since independence Malaysia has pursued a principle-based foreign policy, while at the same time a pragmatic one. The fundamental principles have stood the test of time and our steadfast adherence to these principles, supported by a consistent foreign policy has, without doubt, established for Malaysia a credible image in the eyes of the international community.

In deriding the current leadership and its policies, MP Wong Chen has chosen to disregard the positive developments and achievements; including Malaysia’s international standing as a credible partner. This further highlights his biased and glib assessment.

Malaysia’s successful conclusion of its chairmanship of Asean last year and the overwhelming support we received for our bid as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2015-2016 could not have been possible without our current foreign policy direction.

As a member of the Security Council, Malaysia continues to play a positive and constructive role in efforts at maintaining international peace and security. Our initiatives have been well received by other Council members.

Malaysia has also left a lasting contribution to the UN system when we tabled a resolution, in June 2015, which increased accountability for perpetrators that committed abduction of children in situations of armed conflict. The resolution received overwhelming support from the Council members and other UN member states.

It has to be underlined that while the fundamental principles and aim of Malaysia’s foreign policy have not changed, MP Wong must realise the need for Malaysia to adapt its policy initiatives to remain relevant and necessary in response to the changing dynamics of the region as well as a recessionary global economy. This will enable Malaysia to continue building on its good relations with strategic partners and to have a more focused relation with key countries.

As to MP Wong Chen’s claim that the TPPA is driven by political and geopolitical considerations, it is a false notion. As an open economy, the TPPA is another economic tool aimed to further promote our trade and investment agenda.

It will provide such an opportunity to a seamless market with preferential access, far beyond Malaysia’s population and also provide investment opportunities globally and also regionally.

The TPPA will also allow Malaysia to continue to be an integral part of the deepening economic integration taking place within the Asia Pacific region and also enable Malaysia to engage in a more concrete way with important trading partners.

MP Wong Chen of Kelana Jaya has twisted the report published by PwC and claimed that politics is motivating the trade deal. The negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which took a substantially long period of negotiations led by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) were extensively deliberated to ensure that Malaysia’s position is protected and safeguarded.

It is regrettable that MP Kelana Jaya did not point out the true facts and figures.

The PwC report emphasised that by participating in the TPPA, Malaysia has the opportunity to shape the TPPA text and annexes, as well as secure extensive safeguards by participating in the negotiations. In the event of non-participation, these extensive safeguards would be foregone, and Malaysia may not have another the opportunity to secure such carve-outs that protect our domestic interests in the future.

The PwC’s report warned that Malaysia’s non-participation in the TPPA will result in a decline in GDP by USD9-16 billion over 2018-2027. The PwC report further stated that overall investment is also projected to decline by a cumulative of US$7-13 billion (RM30.5-56.8 billion) over the 10-year period.

The report also warned Malaysia that the non-participation in the TPPA would limit the market access of Malaysia’s firms to the TPPA countries, particularly in terms of non-tariff measures.

This will reduce the competitiveness of several economic sectors, such as E&E and textiles, relative to the other TPPA countries such as Vietnam. If MP Kelana Jaya is honest in his assessment of the report and not being politically motivated, the above facts should be mentioned.

* Media statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Seri Anifah Aman released in Putrajaya on January 9, 2016.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.