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Republican-linked group: 'Long game' with M'sian opposition paid off
Published:  Aug 6, 2018 5:02 PM
Updated: 9:40 AM

The president of the International Republican Institute (IRI) has claimed that his organisation has been attempting to "strengthen" opposition parties in Malaysia since 2002.

In a forum by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on July 12, Daniel Twining told the audience that the new Malaysian government's approach towards deals with China was beneficial to the United States.

"Guess what one of the first steps the new government took: It froze Chinese infrastructure investments because it had opened the books and discovered that there was a lot of funny money swishing around (in) what had been this very corrupt, closed (and) unaccountable system.

"There is a big corruption cleanup and there's a big kinda a deep dive of foreign influence in the country.

"This not a hugely pro-American country, it is probably not gonna be an actual US ally. But this is going to be down to our benefit. So this is an example of the long game," he said.

Twining also claimed that he had visited Malaysia after the change in government, and had spent time in the "prime minister's office."

"I visited and I was sitting there with many of the new leaders of this government, many of whom are partners we have been working with.

"One of the most senior guys said to us: 'Gosh, IRI. You never gave up on us even when we were ready to give up on ourselves'."

'Nothing to do with us'

However, Twining said IRI did not claim credit for the transition in Malaysia.

"There was such a reaction to the excesses of corruption, cronyism and nepotism. It had nothing to do with us. It was the excesses of the one-party state.

"(It is) kind of a logical culmination of the abuses of power in this quite rich Southeast Asian country," he said.

The IRI is affiliated with the Republican Party in the US, and its board was until two days ago chaired by senator John McCain. It was founded as one of the four pro-democracy groups funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is in turn funded by the US Congress.

In recent years, the IRI has been accused of training the opposition and coup leaders in Honduras, Haiti, Cuba, Egypt and Tunisia, among other countries.

The IRI issue comes amid the controversy over a letter to the US Central Intelligence Agency, where the previous government was accused of seeking foreign intervention in Malaysian politics.

Some have even accused former premier Najib Abdul Razak of treason with regard to the letter penned four days ahead of the May 9 general election.