Sunday, 29 April 2018

Why is Mahathir strongly against “China’s investments”? How does his remark affect the upcoming election?

Why is Mahathir strongly against "China's investments"?
How does his remark affect the upcoming election?

Written By: Tan Seng Hin @ Chen Xin  (陈成兴 / 陈辛)
(Member of Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee)

Translated By: Ang Pei Shan / Yong Siew Lee
(Secretariat members of Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee)

【Text below is translated from original version in the Chinese language published on 21 April 2018. In the case of any discrepancy between the English rendition and the original Chinese version, the Chinese version shall prevail.】


Before the 14th general election (GE14) of our country (nomination day on 28 April, polling day on 9 May) takes place, Mahathir, Chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), who was named by Pakatan Harapan leaders as their candidate for Prime Minister if Pakatan Harapan wins the election, said in an interview with the Associate Press on 18 April that:
  • (1) Malaysia (the incumbent government) has a large borrowing from China and may not be able to repay. Mahathir cited Sri Lanka had to give China ownership of Hambantota port on a 99-year lease in return for debt relief. He warned that Malaysia should learn from this lesson.
  • (2) If Pakatan Harapan comes to power, it will review China's investments. Mahathir said: "We feel that we will stop the borrowing. We will try to renegotiate the terms of the borrowing. In the case of projects, we may have to study whether we would continue or we would slow down or we would renegotiate the terms."
Mahathir’s anti-China remarks and citations are subjective, arbitrary, and with sinister intention

Mahathir's remarks above undoubtedly reflect the anti-China’s investments political position of Mahathir and Pakatan Harapan. His saying of Sri Lanka’s government giving ownership of its port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease in return for debt relief is subjective, arbitrary and with sinister intention.

In fact, Sri Lanka’s government has clearly expressed the ultimate importance of port economy for Sri Lanka. Hambantota port project is the biggest investment ever in Sri Lanka history, the port investment and management was handed over to other country in order to transform Hambantota port to an internationally competitive international port. “Hambantota Port will make a strong impact in South Asia and I think it will, beyond South Asia in the Middle East as well as the African continent,” said Parakrama Dissanayake, Chairman of Sri Lanka Port Authority. He expressed that Hambantota Port will become an important economic engine of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has Colombo as the financial centre at present, Hambantota port will be developed into another financial centre, both working in concert with each other. The participation of the China’s companies’ capital and management secures and motivates the steadfast development of Hambantota Port.

In July last year, China and Sri Lanka signed a Concession Agreement. Few months later in December, Sri Lanka’s government officially handed over the commercial and administrative management operations of the port to China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPort), the second largest port operator worldwide. The joint effort of both governments in developing this port will bring hope for economic growth in the lagging southern region of Sri Lanka. Yi Xianliang, the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka, said that “our breakthrough in this key project (the agreement for Hambantota) should set a great example in terms of the Belt and Road Initiative, and at the same time, could be seen as an example for further cooperation with countries in South Asia and in the Indian Ocean region.”

The orange circles above show Sri Lanka (capital Colombo) and Malaysia (capital Kuala Lumpur). Mahathir’s anti-China’s investments remark, mainly points to two important strategic deployments of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean, namely Malacca Gateway and Hambantota Port.

Mahathir uses “anti-China’s investments” position as bait to fish Malay votes

Information shows that when Mahathir was still the Prime Minister, he was interviewed by Yau Lop Poon, the editor-in-chief of Yazhou Zhoukan (YZZK), and his colleague Thock Kiah Wah, the then-special correspondent based in Kuala Lumpur, on 25 February, 1997. The theme of the interview was: To strive for prosperity for Asia. In responding to the question by YZZK about “Why do you disagree with the so-called ‘China Threat’ created by the Western countries?”, Mahathir said that “There are threats in the world today, but not China. Western powers are the world’s threat... If we can co-operate with those who used to dominate us and once colonised us, I don't see why we cannot co-operate with China, which has never dominated nor colonised us.” (See Selected Speeches by Dr. Mahathir bin Mahathir bin Mohamad Prime Minister of Malaysia, World Knowledge Press, 1999, p. 343)

Mahathir, who made the abovementioned remarks, in order to realise his dream of becoming "twice-cooked Prime Minister” (direct translation from the Chinese phrase “huiguoshouxiang”(回锅首相), which means return to power as the Prime Minister), unexpectedly ate his words after 15 years,  did an about turn by chanting “anti-China’s investments”. He almost deems China’s capital and corporations, China’s government and its people as the “main threats of Malaysia”. Mahathir held the power as the Prime Minister for 22 years since 1981. In order to protect his huge fortune after stepping down in 2003, he continued to gang up his cronies to wrestle with the incumbent UMNO ruling clique led by Abdullah Badawi followed by Najib Razak to move his son Mukhriz up the ladder of Prime Minister soonest possible. The contradiction between Mahathir, Mukhriz and their cronies with UMNO Najib-led ruling clique intensified till a stage where it could hardly be reconciled, and Najib finally relentlessly kicked them out of the UMNO ruling clique.

Mahathir, Mukhriz and their cronies had no choice but were forced to form a new party, namely Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) in 2016 that calls to safeguard the sovereignty and interests of the Malays. They have also formed a coalition with 3 opposition parties (Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKP), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara (PAN)) to counter the suppression of Najib’s ruling clique. Hence, “oust Najib” has become the most pressing political task of Mahathir, Mukhriz and PPBM that they founded. The nations are well aware that Mahathir wants to “oust Najib” not to “end Malay hegemony”, but to become "twice-cooked Prime Minister" and restore Mahathirism regime.

Nevertheless, “oust Najib” is not a piece of cake for Mahathir. Due to the following grounds: The capitalism economy in Western countries began to decline after Mahathir stepped down. Since Najib succeeded Abdullah as the Prime Minister, he has to find a new way out for the country’s economy in the wake of the dilemmas faced resulted from the long-term dependency of our economy on Western countries, corruption of government officials as well as the strife between different factions within UMNO. He has then wisely and promptly jumped on the bandwagon of the “Belt and Road” Initiative driven by the rising China. As a result, large amount of capital from China starts to pour into the basic infrastructure development of our country such as ports and railways. The two governments have also established an unprecedented strategic partnership. This has brought new vitality to our economy, and there is a chance of extricating ourselves from the domination of Western countries and embark on a self-reliant development path. The people of all ethnic groups in our country (including the Malay community who has long been baffled by racist propaganda) will anticipate the country to embark on this new path of development. Who in the general public does not hope for the development of national economy which can improve the quality of people’s lives?

The two “real purposes” of Mahathir “opposing China’s investments”

Now, in the period of time when GE14 is looming, Mahathir, in order to prove that he still has a strong political influence on the Malay ethnic group, and to further consolidate the commander position that he has successfully seized in Pakatan Harapan formed by the four parties (namely PKR, DAP, PAN and PPBM founded by him), he has not forgotten to raise the issue of “anti-China’s investments” when shouting “oust Najib”. I am of the view that Mahathir is obviously playing racial politics when he raised the subject of “anti-China’s investments”. Mahathir has been trying hard to ingeniously brainwash the people (especially the Malay ethnic group) into believing the concepts and ideas of “what Najib does is selling the nation's sovereignty and interests of the people to the China’s corporations and the China’s government” and “Najib and his government are colluding with the China’s corporations and the China’s government to do harm to Malaysia while deriving huge profits from it”. His real intentions of doing so are obviously to:
  • (1) Mislead the people of all ethnic groups (Malays being the main target of Mahathir) to believe in his propaganda, to believe that he (Mahathir) is the only savior of “Save Malaysia”. He is hoping that all voters (Malay voters being the main target of Mahathir) will vote for him and for the political coalition led by him (PPBM definitely being the most important one) to be in power, to realise his dream to become “twice-cooked Prime Minister”. If unfortunately the voters are misled and voted him and his party to be in power, the rampant Malay hegemonic rule and state Islamisation situation in our country will certainly not weaken, but becoming more worrying and terrifying instead - this is what the people (especially non-Muslims) should be vigilant of;
  • (2) Another purpose of Mahathir “opposing China’s investments" is to obstruct the strategic deployment of Malaysia and China. After Najib took office, he was at a crucial moment where he faced the political and economic dilemma brought by the Western countries and people in the country. He was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time where China initiated the development of infrastructure for countries along the “Belt and Road” initiative (herein refers to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road)), and with Malaysia being at strategic location, China can consider to inject substantial funds to develop the basic infrastructure in Malaysia including ports and railways, thereby promote the economic development in Malaysia and strengthen the trade and economic relationship between Malaysia and China as well as other Southeast Asian countries. Mahathir's "opposition to China’s investments" apparently plays the role in obstructing the strategic deployment of Malaysia and China.
The impact of Mahathir’s anti-China’s investments remark on GE14

How does Mahathir’s “anti-China’s investment” remark affect GE14? This is a topic which the people of all ethnic groups (especially the Chinese community) in our country are concerned about.

Mahathir's "anti-China’s investments" remark has generally led to aversion and revulsion against Mahathir and PPBM, and disappointment and resentment towards Pakatan Harapan (especially DAP) among the Chinese community who has feelings or a good opinion of China. DAP which relies entirely on Chinese votes, should have first felt the repercussions arising from the “anti-China’s investments” remark. In second half of last year, young leaders of DAP, such as Tony Pua and Liew Chin Tong followed Mahathir in making similar “anti-China’s investments” remarks. However, since the beginning of this year, DAP leaders stopped touching on this subject worrying of losing Chinese votes. So now Mahathir is playing a one-man show on this issue – this is because Mahathir is touted as the commander of Pakatan Harapan and he shoulders special mission to win support for Malay votes and support of voters who are prejudiced against China or the Chinese Communist Party.

Mahathir's "anti-China’s investments" remark will inevitably create an adverse effect on Pakatan Harapan (DAP in particular) winning the parliamentary and state seats. Those effects are nothing more than:
  • 1. Chinese voters who initially wanted to vote Pakatan Harapan (especially DAP) change their mind and decide “not to vote” or “to cast spoilt vote”.
  • 2. Worst case scenario: Chinese voters who are disappointed or dissatisfied with Pakatan Harapan (especially with DAP) might as well vote for BN component parties or other opposition parties.
  • 3. The ultimate outcome will reflect in a concentrated way where DAP may lose some Parliamentary and state seats contested. It will be much regretted if this unfortunately happens to the constituencies contested by the “key leaders” of DAP.




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《人民之友》发表对国内政局看法
马来文版已于9月23日刊出


人民之友成立于2001年9月9日,2018年9月9日是人民之友成立17周年纪念的日子。我们在这一天发表了一篇题为< 联合起来,坚持真正的民主改革! 丢掉幻想,阻止马哈迪主义复辟!>的文章作为纪念。

我们一如既往选择在这一个对我们来说,具有里程碑意义的日子,对我国当前阶段(大选后新政府上台)的政治局势发表一些意见,与为推动我国和世界民主人权运动而奋斗的同道们,互相交流。

为了面向国内不谙华文的广大非华裔群体,也为了让我们对当前阶段的政治局势的意见能够更广泛地传播开去,工委会决定尽快把这篇纪念文章先后翻译成马来文和英文。马来文版已于9月23日刊出。英文版也安排在较后日期刊出。


此外,现居新加坡的庄明湖已将他在《人民之友》发表的《20世纪60年代新加坡左派工运问题探索》(正篇)一文的英文译稿传送到编辑部,因原文中所述人物的姓名或者是党团工会组织的全称或简称,在译文中尚未解决或有待查证,需要一些时日来完成——人民之友工委都是自愿挤出时间来进行工作的,因而无法很快完成。无论如何,我们争取在9月底刊出,为我们的17周年纪念增添光彩!

值得在此一提的是,庄文所述的20世纪60年代新加坡工运遭遇问题(除了遭受来自外部的镇压,还要遭遇来自内部的破坏)的见解,或许能为一些读者(特别是不谙华文和不懂新马历史的读者)思考马来西亚民主改革运动在当前阶段面临马哈迪主义复辟的问题,提供一个历史殷鉴,或者是一个新的启示。

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