KOTA KINABALU: An article entitled “UK calls on Malaysia to Accept Election Monitoring and Condemns fake News and Boundary Law” published by Sarawak Report betrays signs of desperation.
This is due to undoubtedly the well-spring of support for the government and the utter disarray of the opposition, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Anifah Aman said in a statement.
He said Sarawak Report has, since its founding, been defined by its vicious partisanship and malicious misrepresentations adding that the article tries to take advantage of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s non-appearance at the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) as evidence that Malaysia has ruled itself out from assuming the chairmanship of the Commonwealth in 2020.
“It shockingly purports that this is an enormous blow to Najib, who coverts international recognition, and the Sarawak Report has surmised that in the wake of the 1MDB scandal, Najibs hardline measures to protect himself, the situation had simply become too embarrassing for other Commonwealth nations to accept,” he stated.
On the hosting of the CHOGM in 2020, he clarified that due to the request made by some members of the Commonwealth, the matter was indeed considered by Malaysia.
“However, in the end, Malaysia had decided against it. For one, Malaysia is to host the APEC Summit and its related meetings in that year. Further, there were other members of the Commonwealth who too had expressed interest to host CHOGM 2020. For the sake of the warm relations that we have with these countries, Malaysia had chosen to step aside, and instead would prefer hosting CHOGM sometime in the future.”
“As to the embarrassment allegedly felt by other Commonwealth nations, the British High Commissioner in Malaysia was on record as having said on 9 April 2018 that the door for PM Najib would be kept open until the last minute. These are hardly the words of the representative of the host government about an embarrassing guest.”
Much was made of the responses given by the UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Mr Mark Field to the UK Parliament on matters such as the Anti-Fake News Bill and the delineation of the electoral boundaries recently passed by the Malaysian Parliament, as well as the role of external election monitors.
On the Anti-Fake News Bill, Anifah pointed out that it was supported by 123 Members of Parliament, including 10 from the opposition, with 64 voting against.
“This shows that while the preponderance of the duly elected representatives of the people believe in the importance of the right to freedom of expression, there must be limits on this right; and that it should not be abused to spread fake or unverified news, with all the negative consequences that that may bring about.”
As for the delineation exercise, he stated that the last exercise was held 15 years ago and the Malaysian Election Commission was merely carrying out its constitutional responsibility to review and recommend changes, every eight to 10 years, to ensure balance populations between constituencies.
“Contrary to what was reported in the Sarawak Report which alleged that the Malaysian Prime Minister has consistently refused to allow external observers, the Election Commission has invited observers from 14 countries. These countries are Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, India, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Timor Leste. Also invited is the UK-based Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre (MCSC) of Trinity College, Cambridge.”
He stressed that Prime Minister has gone on record as saying that the UK will have no firmer friend as its charts its destiny in the post-Brexit age. We are bound by ties of culture, history, legal systems and even language as well as shared values.
Anifah stated that they were surprised and saddened at the tenor of Mark Fields responses to the UK Parliament.
“It was reported in the Sarawak Report that he had expressed concern about the way in which the Anti-Fake News Bill was passed, and that (the UK) are monitoring developments closely, working with EU and other foreign partners and stand ready to make any necessary representations. We hope that Mr. Field can clarify this statement, which the Sarawak Report had alleged he made.”
“If the statement was indeed made, let me say this to Mr. Field and others of the same mind. Malaysian democracy is to be monitored by the Malaysian electorate, and the Malaysian electorate alone. To assume that anyone else has the right, ability and competence is an insult to each and every Malaysian voter. In Malaysia, as in other democracy, the will of the voter is supreme.”
“Let me also say that I take great exception to the Sarawak Reports view that voters need to realise that outside of their propaganda bubble, the rest of the world has got the measure of Najib Razak, implying that the rest of the world possesses a wisdom denied to the Malaysian voter.”
“Let me tell the Sarawak Report this I have fought in many elections: in those many campaigns I have not met one foolish or blinkered voter. This has meant that I have had to fight hard for each and every vote that has come my way. Malaysian voters have continuously impressed me with a clear sense of what they want for themselves and their children, an innate sense of decency and yes, an uncommon wisdom.”
He stressed that what Sarawak Report and the West chose to believe was their business and they were entitled to their own opinion.
“But I choose to believe in the inherent intelligence and good sense in the average Malaysian voter in my constituency of Kimanis and elsewhere; and that on 9 May, these attributes will lead them to again to support Barisan Nasional as their choice of government,” he stated.-pr/BNN