I refer to the article "Umno takes a dig at Dr M's Japan trip" published in the New Straits Times last night. The statement issued by Umno's strategic communications unit accused, among others, the prime minister's trip to Japan as a lure for Japanese investors, thus selling Malaysia to the Japanese similar to the relationship the previous regime had had with China.
I must say, in its attempt to portray its party as one that's still holding it together, Umno has effectively shot whatever vestiges of credibility it has by this game of ‘what's good for the goose, is good for the gander’. By questioning how the PM's purported investment talks with Japan is any different than the former regime's deals with China, Umno has actually finally admitted that it was "selling" Malaysia to China in the guise of investments.
To add to that, Umno shows its total ignorance of what standard terms are involved in international development projects, and funding that it actually thinks the terms provided by the Chinese parties (at the very least in relation to the East Coast Rail Link, ECRL) are normal global standards.
(A word to the ignorant, you don't give a development project lock, stock and barrel to foreign parties without there being a guarantee for a minimum benefit to the locals. It's what makes it a DEVELOPMENT PROJECT.)
Instead, Umno has proven without a doubt that it does not understand what is a foreign direct investment (FDI) by global standards, yet has the temerity to accuse the current administration of being snobs for not believing economic statistics purportedly recognised by the World Bank and internal agencies.
(Again a word to the ignorant, recognition by the World Bank is not a guarantee of reporting credibility or integrity.)
As for Malaysia's foreign policy, it does not immediately and materially change simply because a new leader comes on board. Such abrupt change is disruptive...refer to what happened to the US diplomatic corp when President Donald Trump took over and upset the policy.
Any revision to Malaysia's foreign policy must be strategically justified and made only after a thorough assessment of Malaysia's current standing. In case Umno forgets, under its stewardship, Malaysia's last address at the UN general assembly was a complete and utter flop. Such is the fall from grace that even Asean members are not looking to Malaysia for leadership, let alone the rest of the world that used to hold us in high esteem.
This has to addressed comprehensively, I agree, but what's another few weeks compared to the decade of damage done by the previous regime? Here again Umno proves its ignorance of diplomacy and international relations strategy setting.
Not just better English
The foreign minister, when he/she is chosen, will be someone with the necessary attributes to be the chief diplomat of Malaysia, and not some Ali, Ah Chong or Muthu whose only qualification is that he can speak better English than his boss. And he will be one who is accepted by all component parties of Pakatan Harapan, quite unlike BN's habit of Umno bulldozing its way in their coalition.
Until then, the PM will continue to honour any speaking engagements committed prior to his appointment as PM, and especially where it is at the invitation of the sitting government of a key ally of Malaysia. I'm sure the PM can handle the situation no matter how unorthodox the situation!
Japan has been instrumental in the industrialisation of Malaysia, not just by being the inspiration for the "Look East" policy, but also in its willingness to invest and give back to Malaysia in terms of benefits to the economy and the local population. Nowhere in over 35 years has Japan taken advantage of the FDIs to trick us into a debt-trap in the guise of unnecessary projects purportedly for development. In fact, Japan's terms for FDIs specifically do not impinge on our sovereignty as a nation.
Umno would do well to remember this most important point in its haste to throw mud at the PM's face just because it thinks that's what the oppositions does.
TARIQ ISMAIL MUSTAFA is Bersatu supreme council member.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.