Monday, November 21, 2005

Malaysia Forced to Dance the Tinikling

Deputy PM Najib is in damage control. He declares that Malaysia is NOT a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists.

Obviously embarrassed by the Jemaah Islamiyah duo of Noordin Top and the late Dr Azahari, and allegations of Malaysians funding those bomb terrorists, and with the added headache of the current unrest in southern Thailand where Thai Muslim secessionists are known to be harbouring in Kelantan, and sometimes operating from that Malaysian state, he sets about assuring neighbours and the global audience that the Malaysian government is not another Pakistan – OK, he didn’t use that word ‘Pakistan’, but you know what I mean.

The fact is the Malaysian federal government was and has been presented with tricky embarrassing issues by some State governments who saw or even see cross-border issues in a different light.

Years ago, it was common knowledge that a former Chief Minister of Sabah was funding Moro separatists in southern Philippines. The bloke fancied himself as a potential Caliph or Sultan of a confederation comprising Sabah and Mindanao groups of islands. The federal government was bloody wary of his ambition. While the Philippines government showed its pissed-off feelings, at times very vocally, Kuala Lumpur would, as Malaysians term it, “act dunno”.

Over on the Peninsula, the Thai separatist group PULO and its subsequent splinter groups had enjoyed and probably are still enjoying safe havens in Kelantan. As I mentioned, that doesn’t mean Kuala Lumpur was or is in the thick of it.

But it gets trickier when the opposition State governments corner Kuala Lumpur into defensive "parallel-talk" (I use this term rather than "double-talk"). The ruling party UMNO obviously doesn’t want to appear to the Malay-Muslim constituencies that it has been unsympathetic to Islamic brethrens across the borders. So the parallel-talk would seek, on one strand, to provide the required sympathetic noises for the benefit of the domestic audience while the second official strand would be to assure neighbouring nations that all have been above board.

But political parallel-talking is like dancing the Tinikling, the national folk dance of the Philippines - one wrong step and it's ouch! - soon both sides won’t believe a damn thing.

(1) Dr Azahari's activities funded by Malaysians
(2) PAS does not believe Dr Azahari was a terrorist
(3) Thai-Malaysian War of Words
(4) Is Malaysia a Good Neigbour?
(5) Thai Muslim Separatists on Charges
(6 )Thai Muslim Insurgents Slaughtered Buddhist Monk
(7) Thai PM told Hishammudin to Piss Off

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