The Obama administration has placed its bets on Najib and Barisan Nasional (BN) to achieve its strategic goals in the region. The White House press statement of the meeting between Najib and Obama (April 2010) noted that they discussed “matters of mutual interests, including: non-proliferation, trade and investment, human rights, Afghanistan and Iran.”
The press statement further says that “Malaysia’s economic vibrancy, democracy and willingness to cooperate on key security and multilateral issues form the basis for a strong bilateral partnership with the United State” (the full press statement is available here).
Can Najib or a Barisan Nasional government actually assist the US in addressing counter-terrorism, trafficking of people and narcotics, or, for that matter, meet any of the US strategic goals before Malaysia becomes a failed state?
Available evidence suggests that the probability of Malaysia becoming a failed state is higher than the probability of the Najib and BN administration delivering on US strategic interests. This will surely undermine long term US strategic interests in the region. The BN is systematically corrupt and incapable of reforms; rendering any action on counter terrorism or trafficking of people and narcotics ineffective in the long term (for examples see here and here).
Furthermore, in supporting a corrupt and racist regime, the Obama Administration stifles the people of Malaysia’s ability to reform the country, which in the long term maybe a better option for delivering on US.strategic interests.
Furthermore, direct US collaboration in Malaysia and Southeast Asia is likely to radicalise further larger segments of society in the region that inherently abhor the US.
It would appear to be prudent — judging from U.S. intervention in other majority Muslim nations (e.g. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan) and consistent with the Obama’s administration philosophy of promoting democracy — to avoid backing a corrupt regime and allow Malaysians to decide the leadership that they want.
Betting on the Najib administration is clearly not in Malaysia or the US’ best interest!
1. Time magazine’s special report on terrorism in Asia after September 11, 2001 – Asia’s War on Terrorism – had as its cover story, Malaysia’s role as a staging point for terrorist attacks (here).
2. A WMD Discovery in Malaysia and Counter-Terrorism Concerns in the Rest of Southeast Asia documents the Malaysian connection in several efforts to arm terrorists with nuclear centrifuges (here)
Also read Raja Petra’s scoop on the nuclear centrifuge scandal here (it is an 8 part series where he reproduces Malaysian government reports on this matter).
3. Terrorism in Southeast Asia, 2009 (here)
4. Terrorism arrives in Malaysia, 2010 (here)
5. Malaysia acts to shed terrorism tag (here)
1. Malaysia centre of people smuggling (here)
2. Report on human trafficking in Malaysia ( here)
3. UNHCR Report on Malaysia (here)
Corruption in Malaysia
2. Corruption at critical level in Malaysia ( here)
Strengthened US – Malaysia cooperation
2. The CSIS — a Washington based think tank — signed an MoU with the BN’s key think tank ISIS to strengthen further cooperation between Malaysia and the US (here and here). The CSIS has been instrumental in painting a rosy picture of Malaysia in the US corridors of power (view here and here).