Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Ripe for the picking 2: Choose US or China?

FB Salahuddin Hisham status this morning picked up on this blog's "Malaysia Day reflection: Ripe for the picking?" dated September 16, 2021. 

It relates to events unfolding together with the arrival of US Secretary of State, Antony J Bilken last night from Jakarta for a two day visit before moving on to Bangkok. Strangely, his arrival was not greeted by Malaysian Foreign Minister, Dato Saifuddin Abdullah. 

The visit seemed to cause quite a stir on the commodity market. Palm oil prices dropped from RM4,661 per tonne yesterday to RM4,466. Told by a player, it crashed by about 20% and news report claimed it could crash further!

A wrong move and China will cancel its palm oil order. Perhaps, traders remained haunted by palm oil price unexpected crash due to short selling by American commodity houses back in 2018.

It fell together with the ringgit currency, Bursa Malaysia, and ringgit bonds consequent to the return of Tun Dr Mahathir to power in 2018 with Pakatan Harapan coalition. 

Mahathir could find his way back to political relevence. He has expressed interest to run in the next GE15 using the excuse of popular demand by supporters.

Politics aside, palm oil decline was anticipated due to technical reason. However, geoglobal factor cannot be ignored. Blicken visit reminded market of the nightmare of PH in power, and Lim Guan Eng with Tony Pua destructive fiscal policy management.   

Blicken visit

Extract from Star Online report below:

United States (US) Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken arrived here on Tuesday (Dec 14) night to begin his two-day working visit to Malaysia. The special aircraft carrying Blinken and his 39-member entourage landed at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang near here at about 10.30pm.

On hand to welcome him were Foreign Affairs Ministry Chief of Protocol Datuk Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah, Undersecretary of the Americas division Wan Aznainizam Yusri Wan Abdul Rashid as well as US ambassador to Malaysia Brian McFeeters.

Kuala Lumpur is Blinken’s second stop in a three-country tour of South-East Asia.

He was in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Monday (Dec 13) before arriving in Malaysia. He is expected to continue with his travel itinerary to Bangkok, Thailand.

On Wednesday (Dec 15), Blinken will join a bilateral meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah in Putrajaya before calling on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob at the Parliament building later in the day.

Blinken’s visit is seen significant as US moves to enhance engagement with South-East Asia and strengthen its position in the Indo-Pacific.

According to Wisma Putra, the visit will provide an excellent opportunity for Malaysia and the US to further strengthen the multi-faceted cooperation and explore new joint initiatives.

The United States established diplomatic ties with Malaysia in 1957 following the then Malaya's independence from Britain.

Is Malaysia not comfortable to give the usual high level diplomatic welcome to receive the US Secretary of State for fear it would anger "big brother" or "tai lor", the term former Foreign Minister, Dato Hishamuddin Hussein Onn used to candidly described China? 

What is the specifics in the diplomacy worded "multi-faceted cooperation and new joint initiatives" in Malaysia strengthening and exploring with the US? 

More assertive US

In Jakarta yesterday, MMO reported Blicken had "urged China to cease “aggressive actions” in the Indo-Pacific". 

It seemed US is asserting its influence in Asia. And, the tone of his speech in the extract of the report below quite telling of Biden's foreign policy:

“That’s why there is so much concern — from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia and from the Mekong River to the Pacific Islands — about Beijing’s aggressive actions.

“Claiming open seas as their own. Distorting open markets through subsidies to its state-run companies. Denying the exports or revoking deals for countries whose policies it does not agree with.”

“Countries across the region want this behaviour to change — we do too,” he said, during the speech at the University of Indonesia.

Geo-strategist Dr Azmin Hasan, who makes regularly comment on regional geo-global politics on local and international TV, summed the Jakarta visit as Blicken inviting Jakarta to join Washington because Beijing is too aggressive and a bully. 

Will it mean US will channel millitary and economic aides to Indonesia? 

Arms deal

And, will the American bearing gifts extend it to Malaysia's just completed 100-day Prime Minister with 90% passing mark cabinet?

FBer Salahuddin reminded that Australia and US announced the AUKUS submarine deal a day this blog's Malaysia Day posting. It was a more aggresive military pact involving US, UK and Australia to counter China

Australia cancelled their US$66 billion submarine order from France and it created a diplomatic row. To replace, they will be acquiring 8 nuclear powered submarine built with technology provided by the US.    

The US is in no mood for compromise. They imposed a series of conditions on UAE for the order of F-35 multirole stealth combat aircraft. worth US$23 billion in which UAE may cancel the order

One condition is to not order their 5G telecommunication system from Huawei of China. 

And, DNB is under attack from Maxis-led consortium of telcos pressuring government a second 5G network involving security risk Hua Wei system.

For the lower cost to consumer, non-duplication of capex, size of financing and reduced reliance on failed privatised telco, SWN approach offers less strain on Malaysian foreign policy. 

Weakening nationhood

This blog expressed the concern on Malaysia Day below:

In the meanwhile, the mounting worry is Malaysia has all the elements and ripe for the picking.

Its strategic value makes it attractive. While its weakening leadership and almost all aspects of nationhood is increasingly vulnerable. Will not elaborate any further but leave it for all to ponder.

Actually no need to ponder for those who followed the late Bigdog's long running series entitled Lessons from Paracels in which the first part was 8 years ago. 

He had long privately advocated for Malaysia to align with the US than the unpredictable and bully China. [Al Fatihah!]

In the meanwhile  Ismail Sabri, who will be meeting Blicken, revealed political weakness. 

His premiership is under no threat but after BN won Melaka handsomely, he displayed vulnerability to social media negative comments against him.

They were merely venting disappointment with  Court of Appeal decision to remain with the High Court guilty judgement for Dato Najib's SRC case. It was Najib, upon winning Melaka, warned Ismail of plans by PPBM and PAS to push the button. 

After last week's UMNO Supreme Council meeting, Ismail openly opposed claims UMNO is seeking to push the button for GE15. 

The press conference by Dato Tajuddin Abdul Rahman as backbencher leader to express support for Ismail seemed awkward. He is hardly under threat but statement for support gives the impression of latent weakness. 

It will be a nervous Thursday. Pray former Defense Minister Ismail is steady should US issue an ultimatum. He need to cover for the ever fumbling second time Foreign Minister.

Saifuddin's idea of foreign affair is human rights and diplomacy is employing cultural ambassadors from among popular actors. 


Thanks to Covid Blicken cut short his trip to return immediately and cancel the Bangkok leg. The scheduled meeting with Saifuddin became a short half hour meet meet with Ismail.

Th virus remained the real global power at large.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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