Najib’s triumphant China visit has put opposition nose out of joint

 |Nov 14, 2016
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak given a warm welcome by China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak given a warm red carpet welcome by China’s Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

WHEN Prime Minister Najib Razak’s father, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein literally slashed his way through the tangled diplomatic undergrowth and geopolitical web of the Cold War era to journey to Beijing in 1974, he created a historic first.

Malaysia became the first Southeast Asian country to recognise China, and China has never forgotten that show of audacious streak by a small nation, still itself in search of its own identity, to work in dignity and harmony with a much misunderstood giant.

And, as to be expected, there were critics and detractors galore – the usual serried ranks of self-proclaimed political experts, and self-serving navel-gazing analysts, pontificating and snorting breathlessly, questioning the wisdom of Razak’s embrace of Red China.

Would we be risking American displeasure, they raised their collective concern?

The Malaysian initiative became an overnight diplomatic sensation, a red letter day, and indeed a feather in Malaysia’s foreign policy cap.

The critics were to be proved wrong; and they grudgingly conceded that Razak indeed knew what he was about.

He knew instinctively that the future of our country would be inextricably linked to China.

The rest, as they say, is history.

It is received wisdom that history has a habit of repeating itself.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Beijing.

In the autumn of 2016, by a most happy historical accident, or coincidence, Najib, a chip off the old block, carrying the proud Razak family name, completed the last lap of the unfinished diplomatic odyssey his father had embarked upon in confident hopes that the foundation he was laying would serve his country well.

It has all come to pass under and Najib’s steady pair of hands.

He has worked his magic, to the eternal gratitude of all Malaysians of goodwill.

The opposition DAP, on the other hand, went into a spin, not knowing whether it was coming or going.

It was DAP’s Chinese dilemma.

Even the loud mouth secretary-general of the party was for once rendered speechless.

DAP realised that depending as they must on their appeal to Chinese Malaysian chauvinism for the party’s primary support, it would be suicidal to attack the new Sino-Malay(sian) warm relations.

The monumental success of Najib’s Chins visit has put the DAP nose completely out of joint.

Malaysian delegate led by Premier Najib Razak waiting for function to begin in Great Hall, Beijing.
Malaysian delegate led by Premier Najib Razak waiting for an official function to begin in Beijing.

At a time when international attitude towards China was tentative, and at best ambivalent, Razak saw all too clearly that our future lay with China, now fully awakened with new energy and impetus for a brave new peaceful and more prosperous world.

Najib’s latest charm offensive was sealed, in an unabashed and very public display of mutual warmth and respect, rarely if ever seen in the Great Hall of the People.

China watchers agreed that the reception that was laid on far exceeded the requirements of the run of the mill formal diplomatic protocol requirements.

It was for a head of state, and not a mere head of government as Najib is.

It was much like a family gathering; Najib’s immediate family was also invited.

He was in his element.

He had worked his magic to turn this visit not only a diplomatic triumph, but also to create a massive opportunity for enhanced trade and economic cooperation.

Najib has shown a single-minded approach to national development goals in all his international forays, and a great capacity for ignoring distractions such as those created by Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib has kept his head while those around him are losing theirs.

As with Razak’s earlier mission, Najib’s recent visit was not without its share of critics.

The difference is that on this occasion, the criticisms, even judged by the abysmally low standards, fell far short of fair comment: they were viciously toxic and spiteful.

It was the usual opposition’s mindless politically loaded verbiage clearly intended to confuse the uninformed.

Was not Najib selling the country to China, together with much of the family silver, they asked?

Was it wise to rely so much on one country for our economic well-being?

And was it wise, the self-appointed experts are still asking, for us to tilt our foreign policy towards China at the expense of our relations with the US?

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China on Nov 1, 2016.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and China’s Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China on Nov 1, 2016.

What would American reaction be?

It seems to me that whereas the opposition could do no wrong, the Najib administration could do nothing right.

This is the quality of the opposition that the country has had to put up with since Merdeka.

It all boils down to the fact that the opposition as a whole is completely bereft of useful ideas and, therefore, forced to rely on lies and more lies to get by.

Najib’s success in galvanising China’s support for a slew of capital-intensive projects, worth more than RM144 billion has caught the DAP in particular completely off-guard.

They do not have the intellectual honesty to admit that the main beneficiaries of Najib’s efforts will be the people of Malaysia, particularly the Chinese Malaysian business community, as has been the case with the old New Economic Policy.

The geopolitical spinoffs from our relations with China will give us much greater flexibility in our dealings with the US.

We need the independence to cultivate and choose friends in ways that will be in the best interests of all Malaysians.

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Tunku Abdul Aziz is the former Special Adviser to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Establishment of the UN Ethics Office and former Adviser to Bank Negara Malaysia.