Malaysiakini Opinion

IRI ’interference’ poses no clear and present danger to M'sia

S Thayaparan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

“Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good government at home.” ― William Ewart Gladstone

COMMENT | Some folks have been emailing me asking me what I think of all this International Republican Institute (IRI) “collusion” with Pakatan Harapan. I get that “collusion” with foreign powers is a big thing at the moment, but honestly I do not really see the issue here. Some people have said that the IRI is a cut-out for the American intelligence apparatus or something like that.

Really? Look, I think the American intelligence apparatus is a cut-out, or has become a cut-out, for big business - Big Pharma, Big Agro, et cetera - and all the other corporate interests that influence American foreign and domestic policy.

Besides, the fact that a representative from the organisation goes around blabbering about the “long game” with the opposition demonstrates that whatever nefarious intentions attributed to the IRI aid is misplaced because it sounds like amateur hour when you boast about a victory which you acknowledged that you had no hand in.

This looks like spin to counter all the negative spin that the IRI faces all over the world. A good news story about a democracy that works in an Islamic country and how the IRI played its small part.

Granted, I would like to know what kind of “training” they provided to our local politicians. I am most curious if this involved the use of social messaging and propaganda, but ultimately this kind of interference happens all the time.

Foreign groups wishing to cultivate a specific kind of government or promote specific agendas operate in countries through ways benign and toxic. Opposition parties facing hostile establishments have very little choice but to get support where they can find it, more so if such support is sexed up with democratic ideas. Furthermore, since its inception, our opposition has been made up of former establishment figures, so there of course would be foreign power brokers invested in how the country chooses to vote.

Claiming, as the IRI did, to have access to the prime minster, his office or to political operatives, is admittedly worrying. However, I consider most of these types of engagements as falling under the “lobbying culture” which Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should be familiar with, considering he had paid a lobbyist back in the day to meet a US president. So, it is not that unusual...

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