(This came via email from a reader in Malaysia.)
July 18, 2011
By Pahit Manis
In a telling sign that human rights are not always a non-negotiable component of democracy – but more of a political weapon (now currently being used against Libya) and a bargaining chip for advantage – Britain’s Prime Minister maintained a deafening silence against the abuses of cherished Western ideals by his Malaysian counterpart just before Najib Razak’s recent official visit.
For weeks, the Malaysian government had carried out a campaign of intimidation and disinformation, through the lapdog media and nominally-independent police force, against the Bersih (Clean) movement calling for reform of the electoral process. (Among the organisation’s eight points are an end to `phantom’ voters and the use of indelible ink on ballots).
The Kafkaesque chain of events culminated with a ban on wearing anything yellow – including shoes, hats, though yellow underwear was not listed among the items, but talk about fashion police – and arrests of Bersih campaigners for alleged Communist links.
The movement was also accused of being 1) a Jewish plot 2) foreign-financed adventure and 3) a Christian conspiracy to take over the Muslim-majority country. Talk about unholy alliances: Bible thumpers, international spies, Jews and Godless goons!
Despite shrill warnings and an eventual ban on the rally, more than 50000 from across the country braved Gestapo-like raids on hotel rooms and police barricades into the capital, to press the case for electoral reform to the ruling coalition that has been in power for more than 50 years.
The response was barrages of tear gas and chemical-laced water from cannons on peaceful protestors in the streets. More than 1600 people were arrested and one died.
Despite the irrefutable evidence of human rights infringement, David Cameron stoutly maintained his stiff upper lip to host an unctuous bully. Yes, the same David Cameron who took to the soapbox against Wen Jiabao for China’s track record on civil liberties during the Premier’s visit earlier.
Not a good idea, Daily Telegraph bellowed in a ticking-off for Dave. (Defending `beleaguered’ China by default).
The Telegravda (as a reader avers) reminded Dave that China owns the Mother of all Piggy Banks (and counting) and it’s not wise to upset the cash cow. Or sow. Whatever.
Indeed. A Chinese official later leaked that Britain has fallen behind in the queue after France, Germany and even Spain as a preferred destination for investment. Ouch.
But all that is probably after the fact. Business pledges and decisions are made mostly ahead of a planned tour and fanfared on arrival as part of a bilateral love-in.
Angela Merkel was showered with US$22 billion and Britain got a measly one. Wot? And that is the real reason for Dave’s outburst at Wen; the loser’s rant, on behalf of embittered Britain Inc.
Not so, of course, with the unelected Najib, who only got his job when the previous incumbent was pressured out after a disastrous showing at the polls.
Malaysia is Britain’s 18 largest trading partner – including weapons to oppress the masses – and a key source of investment, counting the billions siphoned out, over the years, from the resources-rich nation. So Dave shut an eye and bit his tongue, like the head waiter of a posh restaurant who doesn’t care if his well-dressed customers are thugs so long as they tip big.
Dave found some shelter behind the skirts of his monarch, though. In a royal rebuke, Queen Elizabeth wore a yellow dress during her audience with the Malaysian politician and his self-styled first lady. At least Brenda has royal style and spine.
And where was Hillary Clinton when the Malaysian government declared war on its own people in the streets?
Madame Secretary, who never appears in public without a verbal missile ready to fire at some Enemy of Human Rights (usually China), was maybe getting a price-y pedicure while protestors were running for shelter in the streets?
Maybe she blinked. But Hillary can’t say she can’t find Malaysia on the map. She was here last year to deliver a hackneyed working woman/wife/mother spiel to an audience of naïve and pompous females.
(Right, yeah. Hillary is about as homely as those ghoulish women of the French Revolution who knitted away by the guillotine while the executioner dropped the axe on another enemy of the people.)
Her maiden visit came soon after Bill accepted a cut-price fee for a lecture paid by a scandal-hit Malaysian corporation.
Putting aside the unlikely notion of personal interests, it still remains that American policy is dominated by its national agenda – shaped by domestic issues and inter-party politics – rather than the sanctity of so-called universal values.
So long as America gets its oil, gas, timber, palm oil and cheap labour at rates that please its financial-political cartels, the administration will lower its gaze from the bloody antics of corrupt but compliant regimes.
The book on human rights, as authored by the West, is hurled only at countries with the backbone to stand up to American hegemony, and these include Libya –currently favored with “humanitarian intervention’’ through Nato proxies – perennial favorite China and a motley crew of leaders who occasionally dare to rebel against the American will.
Tibetan independence and cultural genocide are a popular human rights theme for China-bashing; it hits a crescendo whenever Dalai Lama comes calling at White House.
But increasingly, Washington’s wriggle room with China using Tibet/Taiwan/Xinjiang is getting tighter, chipped away by its economic malaise. Obama has to appease his detractors and lobbyists publicly but work behind the scenes to maintain strong ties.
China protests loudly but keeps buying treasuries, so long as prospects for American-funded separatists remain dim. It’s becoming a carefully stage-managed charade.
Meanwhile, Washington will turn a blind eye to real abuses elsewhere.