Malaysians on Gore: Can't forget, can't forgive
By Brendan Pereira, Malaysia Correspondent, The Straits Times,
3 November 2000
The candidate's pat on the back for the "brave people" behind
reformasi at Apec summit in 1998 is deeply etched in the minds
of many Malaysians
KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysians cannot forget what US Vice-President Al
Gore did the
last time he was in Kuala Lumpur, nor can they forgive.
Many politicians, newspaper executives and prominent Malaysians are
Republican nominee George W. Bush and hope that his foreign policy
will be less intrusive
if he is elected in next Tuesday's polls.
Their view is aptly summed up by Mr V.K. Chin, editorial adviser to
The Star newspaper,
in a column yesterday.
He wrote: "It is not that a Bush administration is going to set
bilateral ties on fire but it is
just that he is the lesser of two evils."
Memory of what Mr Gore did in 1998, when he represented President
Bill Clinton in
Kuala Lumpur at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit,
is still deeply
etched in many Malaysian minds.
Mr Gore, in his address to a gathering attended by Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Dr
Mahathir Mohamad and several Cabinet ministers, said the US supported
people" of Malaysia who were behind the "reformasi"
This drew an angry response from many Malaysians who denounced him as
rude and evil.
Prominent Malaysians interviewed by The Straits Times said a victory
for the Democratic
candidate would see Malaysia staying in the doghouse for a while
longer, with official
contact between the two governments continuing to be at a minimum.
Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, an Umno Youth exco member noted: "Just
Cohen, Sam Nunn will also give Malaysia a miss during visits to the
Experts expect Mr Gore to appoint former senator Nunn as Defence
Mr Cohen and Mr Nunn were keen supporters of the Asia Pacific
Dialogue, a meeting of
leaders initiated by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. They
concern over his jailing and treatment by the authorities.
But most Malaysians do not expect any significant shift in policy
even if Mr Bush becomes
There is a perception though that a Republican president will bring
renewed focus on Asia
minus the constant lecturing on human rights and the environment.
His advisers have said that he will not pander to labour and
environmental concerns while
Mr Gore has said that he will seek to build labour and environment
protection rights into
future trade agreements.
Also, there is a feeling that some of Mr Bush's likely appointees to
senior positions will show
a more acceptable face of diplomacy.
Lawyer Karim Raslan said: "It will be a relief for all Asians to
see the demise of Madeleine
Albright's shockingly abrasive contempt of all things Asian."
Malaysia's opposition politicians also seemed to back Mr Bush but for
The Parti Islamic SeMalaysia (PAS) noted that Mr Gore and his running
mate, Mr Joseph
Lieberman, enjoyed strong support from the Jewish lobby. That may
make them more
amenable to policies that will put Muslims in the US at a
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