Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has reiterated that the deep state in Malaysia is out to undermine the Pakatan Harapan government.
Back in April, Saifuddin had similarly warned against a deep state that may want to remove the new government through undemocratic means.
The deep state refers to a "state within a state" pursuing its agenda outside of the national political leadership.
Saifuddin had first urged caution against a deep state in the context of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had said there was an attempt to get the rulers to sign an order against the premier over the government’s decision to ratify the Rome Statute.
Now, he said, the deep state is at work to sabotage the Harapan government’s plans to sign four other human rights treaties.
“The deep state is real and influences perception, and we have to be prepared strategically.
“It can be inside the government and you can’t identify it.
“It is an agent provocateur paid by certain quarters to create fear among the public.
“On social media, they distribute all kinds of stories and campaigns. It could be fake news, half-truths, but the idea is to stop certain reforms from going through or to sabotage good projects from being carried out,” Saifuddin said, as reported by The Malaysian Insight.
Those in the deep state are thus far unable to be identified, he said, but he stressed there are enough signs to know it exists.
He pointed to people who speak up on issues “with ridiculous arguments” but have good support as an example, though he cannot determine whether these people are aligned with any political parties.
The Harapan government hopes to ratify more international treaties within this term, that are the covenant on civil and political rights, the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, the covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance, and the convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.
This comes after the Rome Statute and the convention to eliminate racial discrimination (ICERD) was abandoned by the Harapan government following intense criticism from the public.
Thanks to the Rome Statute and ICERD incidents, Saifuddin said the Foreign Ministry is better prepared to face opposition from deep-state actors.
“In these things, we as the government have to be bold and come out with our narrative and should there be any deep state people who want us to fail, we have to have our counter-narrative ready,” he said.
However, Saifuddin acknowledged that there is a difference between the manufactured outrage by the deep state and genuine criticism against the government.
“The difference is hairline but you know genuine dissent when there is a group of people who picket in front of your office and make certain calls.
“From the arguments brought out, you can more-or-less see that it is logical and should be taken seriously.
“In contrast, the outrage from deep-state actors appears fake. Sometimes, you also know that (the protest) is really out of the box. Where are these arguments coming from?" he said.
“Then you start becoming suspicious about how they come out with these arguments.
“However, once it starts becoming so ridiculous and you see a string, one after the other, then you will say, okay maybe there is an element of some kind of a deep state here,” Saifuddin added.