Not this time, Anwar!

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 11:33 PM PDT

"I believe he (Barack Obama) is under pressure from Prime Minister Najib (Abdul Razak) not to see me when the US president visits Malaysia next week to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)" - Anwar Ibrahim

PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli also believes Putrajaya was behind it: "I didn't ask (for a meeting with Anwar) though I did express in the strongest terms that US' credibility in the eyes of Malaysians will plunge if the US is too calculative to push the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement over democratic principles."

And for the similar issue, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said Obama's decision not to meet with Anwar raised questions about the US' commitment to democracy, freedom and justice.

No, Putrajaya was not behind it. Najib himself will not interfere if Obama wants to see Anwar. However, the US President is a wise man in attending to diplomacy and his foreign policy. Read this:
Under different circumstances, Obama might have arranged for a meeting with Anwar but he now has bigger things on his mind –geopolitics and trade.
The US needs to further cement friendships with Malaysia and other Asian nations to counter the aggressive movements of China in this region. It wants to remain influential in Asia.
Malaysia is a major player in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and getting Kuala Lumpur firmly on its side would be seen as a foreign policy success.
Malaysia and the US, under Najib, enjoy good relations as Najib has repaired the rift created by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad. So, by not meeting Anwar, Obama may be signalling that he appreciates Najib's stance.
With most terrorist threats linked to Muslims, and with many Muslim nations being antagonistic towards the US, it would be good to have Muslim nations and Muslim-majority nations like Malaysia as a friend, especially since Malaysia has shown that it can mediate in matters involving Muslims.
The peace treaty signed by the Philippine Government and Muslim rebels in the south of the country has come about in no small measure due to Malaysia's mediation efforts. And Malaysia has taken a leading role in working out a similar treaty between the Thai Government and Muslim rebels in the south of that country. Obama is likely to praise this during his visit.
But all may not be lost for the Opposition. It is possible that Obama may say something or other that could touch on the state of freedoms and justice in Malaysia. That would be good for the ordinary Malaysian.
I am one of those who hoped Obama would win the US presidency and cheered when he won. One reason is that he is the first non-white president. Another is that he inspired hope in a better world.
Many people said that only in the US could a black man become president in a white-majority nation. But, seriously, such things can only happen if the people are matured and broadminded.
Another nation where we can see this is India: Muslims have been presidents and the current vice-president is a Muslim. A member of one of the smallest communities, the Sikhs, is Prime Minister. An Italian-born woman has a powerful say in India. And India, as we all know, is overwhelmingly Hindu. That shows maturity, broadmindedness, and democracy at work.
Anyway, as US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said: "This trip has a very positive, affirmative agenda and that's how we are looking at it – as an opportunity to solidify and modernize our alliances and partnerships."
Obama will this weekend become the first US president to visit Malaysia for nearly 50 years, seeking to put decades of uneasy relations behind him as both cast wary eyes on a rising China.

Mindful of America's perennial image problem in the Islamic world, Obama - who visits on Saturday to Monday - is expected to tout the US friendship with the economically thriving moderate Muslim nation.

As one of several rival claimants to parts of the South China Sea, Malaysia is also an important partner in the US 'rebalance' of its strategic attention to Asia, where concern is rising over Beijing's territorial assertiveness.

Obama will 'highlight the growing strategic and economic relationship' with Malaysia and its 'credentials as a moderate, Muslim-majority state and emerging democracy'. So, Obama has to tag his visit to such an ambience.

In giving a 'fresh start' to US-Malaysia relations, Obama will of course has to be tactful not to offend Malaysians by meeting the Opposition although it has been a 'policy' for US diplomats to browse with them as a show of support.

However, this is not the right time. Anwar can always go the US to see Obama, and I believe the Opposition Leader understands that.

And until Pakatan Rakyat is the legitimate power in Putrajaya, the US and the world will not include PKR in their foreign policy!


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