Archive for July 25th, 2008

One “black eye” after another – Hamid’s special briefing to diplomats on Anwar “a big flop”

The special briefing on Wednesday by Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to 96 foreign diplomats on government action and police investigations into the sodomy allegations against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is clearly a big flop, with the caustic criticism by the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice within 24 hours with her call for transparency and the rule of law into the new allegations against Anwar.

Rice rejected the earlier claim by her Malaysian counterpart, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim that the United States was meddling in Malaysia’s internal affairs by raising concern over Anwar’s arrest.

She said the United States would continue to speak on cases involving human rights and politics although it did so “in a spirit of respect for Malaysia”.

She stressed that the United States “doesn’t recognise this very firm barrier that it is simply internal affairs when a case of this kind comes up, but we are going to continue to work with Malaysia”. Read the rest of this entry »


Third World Reality Beneath Malaysia’s First World Veneer

Book Review: Beyond the Veneer: Malaysia’s Struggle For Dignity and Direction
(Ioannis Gatsiounis : Monsoon Books, Singapore. 2008 : 273 pages Indexed : US $15.95)

By: Bakri Musa

Soon after Abdullah Badawi led his Barisan Nasional coalition to a landslide electoral victory in 2004, I wrote a blistering critique of his leadership. He had hoodwinked voters, I wrote, with his slick “feel good” campaign, and that sooner or later Malaysians would see through his emptiness. I had the piece previewed by my friend and frequent collaborator Din Merican. He suggested that I hold back and instead give Abdullah a chance. I did.

Little did I know that at about the same time (October 2004) an American journalist in Malaysia, Ioannis Gatsiounis, had written for Asia Times an essay titled, “Abdullah’s Honeymoon is Over in Malaysia.” Although more restrained in tone, nonetheless as judged by the title, he revealed a similar lack of enthusiasm for Abdullah as a leader. His “soft but firm” leadership, Gatsiounis wrote, “has shown … to be more soft than firm.”

That kind of perceptiveness is rare for a foreign observer, or a local one for that matter. Today, as judged by the current headlines, Gatsiounis’s judgment of Abdullah has become the common wisdom. Read the rest of this entry »