Monday, June 16, 2014

Misi pengaman Malaysia ke Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB)


Malaysia dari segi sejarah dasar luarnya sentiasa mengambil bahagian dalam misi pengaman Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) sejak penglibatannya di Congo Africa pada tahun 1960. Banyak perkara yang mendorongnya untuk berbuat demikian diantaranya, adalah berteraskan kepada apa yang dianggap sebagai kepentingan Negara dari perspektif politik, ekonomi, keselamatan (strategik) dan sosio budaya. Justru itu dasar luar semestinyalah digubal bukan sahaja untuk mencapai matlamat simbolik sahaja, tetapi keputusan dan pelaksanaannya mestilah merangkumi kepentingan politik domestik, serantau dan antarabangsa. Mengikut Reynolds (1980:13) sesuatu dasar luar tidak memberi makna atau kesan melainkan bila ia berhubung-kait dengan keadaan atau perkara-perkara yang berlaku diluar kawasan atau wilayah Negara tersebut. (“Foreign policy would thus be a choice of action, or the range of actions, adopted in relation to situation or entities external to the actor.”)

Dasar luar Negara dibentuk dengan mengambil kira garis keutamaannya dan kemudiannya dikategorikan mengikut kepentingan “utama”, “seconder”, “sampingan” (jangka pendek) dan jangka panjang negara. Malahan apa juga keputusan yang diambil pasti akan diselaraskan dengan objektif yang hendak dicapai oleh negara dalam kontek yang berbeza-beza, samada kepentingan utama, menengah dan jangka panjang (Holsti-1992). Boleh dikatakan bahawa penglibatan Malaysia dengan misi pengaman PBB adalah didorong oleh objektif jangka panjang.

Selain daripada perkara-perkara tersebut ia akan diselaraskan dengan elemen strategik, taktikal dan keperluan semasa dalam memutuskan proses pembuatan dasar luar. Kesimpulannya, dasar luar dan penglibatan Malaysia dalam misi PBB lebih bersifat untuk mendapat pengiktirafan antarabangsa dari segi keupayaannya, disamping menjamin keselamatan, kewibawaan wilayah dan melindungi kepentingan negara. Keputusan dasar luar akan mempamerkan penonjolan kuasa, kemampuan dan keupayaan negara dikalangan masyarakat antarabangsa.

Malaysia sebagai sebahagian dari masyarakat antarabangsa sentiasa mahu memenuhi tanggungjawabnya sepertimana terkandung dalam piagam Bangsa Bersatu. Penghantaran pasukan pengaman PBB adalah seiringan dengan dasar luar Malaysia dan piagam PBB. Tugas dan misi utama pasukan PBB adalah:


  • Mengawasi genjatan senjata dalam keadaan perang saudara dalam sesebuah negara
  • Membantu untuk memulihkan konflik politik
  • Membantu pihak berkuasa negara menubuhkan institusi pentadbiran; dan
  • Memantau persoalan hak asasi manusia atau pelanggaran terhadapnya

Persoalannya apakah manfaat yang diperolehi oleh Malaysia dengan penyertaannya? Secara ringkasnya, untuk mendapat pengiktirafan masyarakat antarabangsa dan PBB. Manakala untuk Anggota Tentera Malaysia ia memberi pengalaman dan pendedahan kepada situasi konflik dan perang. Penglibatan negara dalam tujuh misi pengaman PBB diseluruh dunia sejak tahun 1960an telah memberi pengalaman dan pendedahan yang amat berharga. 

Dalam tempoh itu lebih daripada 20,000 anggota tentera telah mengambil bahagian dalam misi-misi PBB yang membawa kesan positif kepada anggota tentera serta negara. Misi-misi itu menguji kesiapsiagaan ATM dan membolehkan ATM menggunakan doktrin serta prosedur peperangan.

Antara misi yang telah disertai adalah Operasi Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu di Congo (UNOC) mulai Oktober 1960 hingga April 1963, Kumpulan Bantuan Peralihan Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (UNTAG) di Namibia (Februari 1989 - April 1990) dan Pihak Berkuasa Peralihan Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu di Kemboja (UNTAC), Mac hingga November 1993. Operasi Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu di Bosnia Herzegovina (UNPROFOR) (Disember 1993 - Julai 1998), dan Pasukan Sementara Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (UNIFIL) di Lubnan (Januari 2007 hingga 2010) serta Timor Leste sejak 1999 sehingga 2013.

Kementerian Luar Negeri Malaysia bertanggungjawab untuk menggubal dasar luar Malaysia dan melaksanakannya berasaskan kepentingan nasional yang digariskan oleh pemimpin kerajaan. Kementerian Luar Negeri Malaysia diketuai oleh Menteri yang mewakili kuasa eksekutif, manakala proses penggubalan adalah berasaskan kepada pandangan dan persepsi pemimpin negara. Pelaksanaan dasar pula akan dilakukan oleh penjawat awam yang diketuai oleh Ketua Setiausaha.

Kementerian Luar Negara Malaysia bertanggungjawab untuk menentukan Dasar Luar negara sentiasa bergerak dilandasan yang tepat selaras dengan kepentingan negara mengikut keputusan Kerajaan. Dalam urusan mencadang, melulus dan menghantar kontijen Malaysia menyertai misi PBB, Kementerian Luar Negara Malaysia mengunakan model Birokrasi politik, dimana pegawai-pegawai Kerajaan akan mengumpul maklumat dan memaklumkan kepada Menteri untuk membawa ke perhatian Perdana Menteri. Kementerian Luar Negara Malaysia juga mengamalkan proses kerja “two way” (top bottom / bottom up). Selain daripada Kementerian Luar Negara Malaysia, terdapat juga kementerian dan agensi lain yang terlibat dalam proses dasar dan penghantaran misi PBB ini, antaranya Kementerian Pertahanan Malaysia, Majlis Keselamatan Negara dan Pejabat YAB Perdana Menteri.

Penglibatan Malaysia dalam misi PBB adalah untuk memenuhi kepentingan nasional dan strategik negara. Kini Dasar Luar Malaysia berada di fasa 7 dibawah pimpinan Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib dan Malaysia ingin memainkan peranan aktif di arena antarabangsa dan inisiatif - inisiatif antarabangsa seperti di PBB, Komenwel, APEC, WTO dan sebagainya.

Namun demikian, aspek - aspek teras Dasar Luar Negara tidak diabaikan, antaranya:

  • Kepentingan nasional
  • Keselamatan;
  • Ketahanan Negara (national resilience)
  • Kepentingan ekonomi Negara
  • Pengiktirafan antarabangsa
Mengambilkira 5 perkara diatas sebagai asas penggubalan Dasar Luar Negara Malaysia, maka penglibatan Malaysia dalam sesuatu misi PBB jelas mempunyai kepentingan nasional dan strategik. Pendekatan ini dalam pengertian umumnya bolehlah diklasifikasikan sebagai “modal kepentingan nasional dan strategik”.

Dalam konteks model ini, saya berpendapat bahawa pertimbangan yang lazimnya diambil oleh Ketua Negara atau Kerajaan dalam sebarang reaksi ke atas sesuatu fenomena akan merangkumi sejauhmana reaksi atau tindakan itu boleh membawa manfaat jangka panjang kepada Negara dari sudut politik, keselamatan, pembangunan ekonomi, keutuhan wilayah dan menjamin kedaulatan.

Penglibatan dan usaha Malaysia dalam misi pengaman PBB berasaskan “kaedah kepentingan nasional dan strategik” dapat mempamerkan kepada dunia luar akan keperihatinan negara berhubung isu-isu keamanan, keadilan dan keharmonian sejagat.

Kemampuan dan usaha Malaysia untuk menyertai misi PBB selain mengambil kira elemen kepentingan nasional juga didorong oleh kemahuan bagi mendapat pengiktirafan negara luar atas kemampuan negara menyumbangkan kepada pembentukan keamanan / keharmonian global. 

Misi PBB juga perlu dilihat dalam suasana kontemporari, tidak semata-mata berasaskan kebergantungan, malah ianya boleh berbentuk kesalingan (reciprocity).

Kerjasama sebegini jika dilihat melalui sudut liberalisma, adanya trend dikalangan negara bangsa, dewasa ini untuk memasukkan diri dalam kelompok yang berasaskan pertalian “heredirity” yang boleh mewujudkan gabungan.

Selain daripada itu, ada faktor lain dipanggil “push and pull factors” yang berteraskan kepada:

Sejarah dan politik negara:
Malaysia dijajah selama hampir 500 tahun. Dasar Luar Malaysia pasti melihat secara kritikal nasib negara sewaktu zaman penjajahan. Oleh kerana itu pengaruh sejarah negara yang mengandungi rakyat berbilang kaum mempengaruhi Dasar Luar Malaysia, dalam konteks inginkan keamanan dan menentang segala bentuk peperangan, penjajahan dan peralihan kuasa secara paksa.

Kedudukan geo-politik negara
Malaysia terletak di persimpangan jalan utama antara lautan pasifik dan India. Oleh kerana pengaruh barat dan timur amat ketara dirantau ini, maka Dasar Luar Malaysia dan tindakannya perlu mengambil kira landskap geo-politik dan strategik antarabangsa, “international political economic landscapes” terutamanya melibatkan penglibatan kuasa besar dan kepentingan Islam global.

Ekonomi dan Perdagangan Antarabangsa
Pendekatan ekonomi berasaskan kepada globalisasi dan perdagangan bebas berteraskan sistem kapitalis dan ekonomi pasaran. Ini memerlukan Dasar Luar Malaysia dan tindakan dibawahnya berbentuk konsisten dan pragmatis, justeru tidak menjejaskan peluang negara untuk meraih manfaat ekonomi.

Kedudukan Islam dalam Dasar Luar Malaysia 
Dari segi sejarahnya dan selaras dengan peruntukan Perlembagaan yang meletakkan agama Islam sebagai agama persekutuan serta penduduk majoritinya beragama Islam, maka sejak merdeka lagi Malaysia mempunyai dasar luar yang mendekati Negara-negara Islam. Pendekatan dasar sebegini dapat memberi kepentingan politik dan ekonomi kepada Malaysia. 

Faktor Islam dan Negara Islam telah diambil kira dalam memutuskan keterlibatannya dalam misi pengaman PBB. Malaysia menganggap keselamatan dan kerjasama Ummah adalah penting. Hubungan Malaysia dengan negara-negara Islam jelas dalam OIC, malahan Malaysia adalah salah saru negara pengasas pertubuhan OIC. Malaysia sering menggunakan pelbagai platform antarabangsa untuk mengenengahkan isu-isu yang mengancam kedudukan negara dan persepsi terhadap OIC, keselamatan Ummah dan krisis politik antarabangsa yang berlaku di negara-negara Islam. Pengiktirafan PBB terhadap pasukan keselamatan Malaysia sejak tahun 1960 membolehkannya memainkan peranan yang lebih aktif dalam mencorakkan kedamaian sejagat yang melibatkan umat Islam.

Selain daripada itu, untuk beberapa dekad ini, Malaysia memperjuangkan hak kedaulatan Palestin dan mengambil sikap anti zionism. Pada tahun 90an, Malaysia memainkan peranan penting dalam isu dan konflik di Bosnia dan Kosovo, di mana Malaysia bersama-sama negara-negara lain mengambil bahagian dalam misi pengaman PBB ditempat-tempat tersebut. Ini jelas mencerminkan bahawa Dasar Luar Malaysia sering diwarnai oleh kedudukan Islam serta aktifnya negara untuk menjaga keamanan sejagat dan menyeru kepada perpaduan Ummah.

Sesungguhnya PBB, bertanggungjawab kepada urus tadbir dunia sejagat (global governance) untuk mengawal dan menyelia keamanan dunia. Namun begitu kini timbul keraguan terhadap kemampuannya berbuat demikian. Semakin hari semakin dilihat hilang 'taring'nya dalam menangani isu-isu antarabangsa. Dewasa ini, banyak usaha misi pengaman antarabangsa yang sebelum ini diterajui oleh PBB telah 'diswastakan' kepada kuasa-kuasa besar tertentu yang mempunyai pelbagai kepentingan yang terselindung (hidden agenda). Misi pengaman antarabangsa dikatakan pada hari ini telah hilang sifat “collective security”nya dan 'multilateralisme’nya. Ianya sering dilihat bertindak untuk memenuhi dan mempertahankan kepentingan nasional negara-negara ahli tetap Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu dan kuasa besar tertentu dan berkepentingan di PBB.

Malaysia sentiasa memperjuangkan agenda Palestine disemua platform antarabangsa dan telah mencadangkan agar misi pengaman PBB dihantar ke kawasan lembah tersebut untuk membantu memulihkan konflik politik serta memantau persoalan berkaitan hak asasi manusia atau pelanggaran terhadapnya. Namun demikian, keputusan untuk menghantar misi pengaman hanya boleh dilakukan melalui Majlis Keselamatan PBB dan tiada pihak lain yang mempunyai kuasa untuk membuat keputusan tersebut.

Kejayaan peranan antarabangsa Malaysia pada hari ini ialah usahanya dalam konteks penyelesaian penglibatan dalam menyelesaikan konflik serantau dan antarabangsa. Sebagai sebuah negara yang cintakan keamanan dan keselamatan sejagat, Malaysia sangat mengambil berat terhadap konflik yang boleh menjejaskan keamanan negara, serantau dan antarabangsa. Malaysia telah membuktikan bahawa strategi pengurusan konflik secara permuafakatan, pengelakan dan penyesuaian serta persaingan yang baik telah berjaya menghapuskan ancaman pengganas komunis yang menjejaskan keamanan dan kestabilan negara. 

Di peringkat serantau, Malaysia telah bekerjasama dengan negara-negara jiran dengan menggunakan platform ASEAN bagi menguruskan konflik serantau. Selepas beberapa tahun, pendekatan diplomasi Malaysia ini telah berjaya menyumbangkan untuk menghasilkan negara dan rantau yang aman dan stabil. 

Malaysia telah memainkan peranan utama dalam usaha menyelesaikan konflik di Pulau Mindanao, selatan Filipina serta mendapat pujian daripada masyarakat antarabangsa dan PBB. Misi diplomasi Malaysia di Pulau Mindanao berakhir dengan termeterainya proses damai antara Bangsamoro dengan kerajaan Filipina pada 27 Mac 2014. 

Berikutan dengan kejayaan ini, Malaysia sedang cuba 'menjual' kaedah diplomasinya kepada beberapa buah negara lain yang sedang menghadapi masalah yang sedemikian rupa seperti Myanmar (isu Rohingya) dan Thailand (isu selatan Thai). Yang terkini, Malaysia telah menjadi 'perunding damai' di antara Hamas dan Fatah di Palestin. Adalah dialukan kini sebuah kerajaan perpaduan merangkumi Fatah dan Hamas ditubuhkan di Palestin. Ini merupakan permulaan kepada satu episod baru dalam politik dan ekonomi antarabangsa di era globalisasi. Apatah lagi, bagi sebuah negara kecil seperti Malaysia yang ingin mencapai status 'negara kuasa pertengahan' (middle power state). Cabaran yang bakal dihadapinya semakin mencabar dan berliku terutamanya apabila landskap geopolitik antarabangsa begitu ”fragile” kini. Penerimaan sebuah negara segabai 'Negara kuasa pertengahan' mengikut konsep yang digunapakai oleh penulis dan cendiakawan adalah berkait dengan hubungan antarabangsa dan masyarakat sesebuah negara yang tidak 'besar' dan tidak juga 'kecil' tetapi boleh berdikari serta mampu memberikan idea dan terlibat aktif dalam sistem pelbagai hala (multilateral) serta memberi impak dalam hubungan dan politik antarabangsa. 

Malaysia sentiasa berusaha mencari penyelesaian aman dan berterusan bagi konflik-konflik rantau ataupun antarabangsa melalui prinsip kesederhanaan dan keseimbangan. Saya juga berpendapat bahawa Malaysia atau dasar luar berhubung dengan misi PBB perlu:
  1. mengenengahkan agenda wasatiyyah atau “moderation”
  2. menggalakkan pendekatan pengantaraan serta berkongsi pengalaman dan kepakaran sebagai pengantara dalam usaha mencari penyelesaian yang aman dan berterusan terhadap konflik-konflik serantau dan antarabangsa;
  3. mengukuhkan lagi operasi dan pelaksanaan misi pengaman di serata dunia. Malaysia turut juga dapat berkongsi pengalaman dan kepakaran sepanjang penglibatannya di misi pengaman PBB sejak tahun 1960; dan terus berusaha untuk menyokong usaha damai dan pembangunan negara yang baru pulih dari konflik
Apa juga yang dilakukan oleh Malaysia dalam misi-misi PBB sudah memberi pengiktirafan dan kredibiliti kepada keupayaan dan kemampuan Negara dan pasukan, ATM dan PDRM.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Foreign Policy of Malaysia under Mahathir : 1981 - 2003



Was the foreign policy (FP) of Malaysia during Mahathir’s era predicated primarily on national interest (NI) or was it premised on the cognitive factors of idiosyncrasy or iconoclasm? Did the domestic and international factors also play a significant role in the FP formulation and decision making that was principled, consistent and pragmatic?

The FP went through the process of evolution since the country achieved independence in 1957, with change and continuity. Beginning with Tunku, the PM had been central in the formulation and decision making of the FP, though this should not ignore or exclude the role of the Foreign Minister, foreign policy institutions, bureaucracies and other non-state actors in influencing and shaping the FP. I had reviewed works of scholars, academics and political writers, on the FP of Malaysia during Tun Mahathir’s period. The concepts and theories of international politics and IR such as realism, neo realism, idealism, constructivism and the English School had been taken into account to analyse the NI and FP. I took the opportunity to analyse them to determine how Tun Mahathir shaped the FP. It was a qualitative and descriptive analysis based on narrative interpretation of the issues, events and episodes of the FP to determine how it twined with the NI. 

I agreed with the majority literature that the FP formulation and decision making Tun Mahathir as the Prime Minister played a central role. This was evident from the FP postures, initiatives and outcomes, factoring the political culture, system, structures, values of Malaysia and the international system.


My proposition was in the Mahathir era, NI was the fundamental driver of the FP of the country, which was intertwined with the goals and aspirations of the nation to meet the domestic demands as well as the influence of the external environment. Vision 2020 was also a significant factor that underscored her vision to achieve a developed nation status. The objectives of the vision were for national identity, national integration, to be a self-confident nation whilst at the same time maintaining the equilibrium between the material and spiritual needs of the society, in line with the security, political, economic and societal needs and wants of the nation. 

Tun Mahathir was a great believer of the need for a sound economic policy in order to be successful nation and gained the respect of other nations. This explained the economic orientation of the FP of Malaysia during his period. The first shift of the FP was moving from political focus to the economic. The public policy of Malaysia was therefore directed towards achieving this goal. Malaysia targeted for economic growth and development to improve the quality of lives of the citizens. The Vision was set to build a self-confidence Malaysian nation according to its own mould. Even democracy and human rights were embraced but subject only to them being consistent to its local culture and conditions. He was one of the leaders of the developing world that advocated for a strong government and leadership. He liked to suggest that the success of South Korea and Taiwan were due to the strong government and leadership. Hence he was a passionate advocate of strong leadership. Due to this advocacy many Western countries and writers considered Tun Mahathir dictatorial and authoritarian. In my view Tun Mahathir did act with a strong hand and grip on the country’s affairs but this was done for sustaining political stability, peace and security. In a way he did not act differently from previous PMs except that his public policy shifts were seen as radical and he took a more nationalistic, assertive and profiled FP. 

Dr. Feisal Ahmad in his unpublished PhD thesis (p 295) suggested that the motivation for Tun Mahathir’s FP was the desire to seek self-esteem and recognition. This would create a self-confidence nation, with self-respect and self-esteem. In my view this search for recognition was associated with the notion of how he perceived the NI of the country should be. The administration of FP premised on the NI was managed in a consistent, principled and pragmatic way, bearing in mind the limits and constraints prevailing in the domestic and international spheres. 

The FP postures, initiatives and outcomes, encompassed the country’s security, economics, political and societal wants and needs in the fulfilment of its goals and aspirations to be a developed nation by 2020. It is a truism that any policy formulation and decision making would have the stamp of the leader, his interpretation of events and environments as he perceived them as well as his reactions towards them. What elevated Tun Mahathir’s stature was when the FP postures, initiatives and outcomes had the consensus, relevance and acceptance not only of the domestic audience but also amongst the countries of the South, Islamic Ummah and East Asia (including ASEAN). 

The NI approach towards FP formulation and decision making, made it sustainable and flexible. In the interview with Tun Mahathir on 13 March and 13 June 2013 he emphatically said that the FP during his premiership was premised on the NI of Malaysia. As far as he was concerned it did not matter what other countries said of the NI and FP of Malaysia or think of it so long as it brought good well-being of Malaysians and their support. The support he obtained from the Malaysian public was evident in the areas of politics, economics, security and societal. The consequent was it brought the sustainability of his regime. 

Analysis of NI and FP

The NI had its historical beginning in the 16th and 17th century Europe and it became the universal practice in international politics and international relations justifying the FP actions with the NI. Mahathir underlined the role and identification of Malaysia with the South, Islamic Ummah and ASEAN (including East Asia) as its closest neighbours in accordance with her NI. The relationship with China, Japan and Korea became active due to the political, economic growth and development dictates, which required the country to move away from the traditional relationships once the west. Mahathir was impressed and convinced these was something learn from the work ethics of Japan and South Korea. This was in his belief the way forward for Malaysia. Malaysia gained tremendous benefits from these associations and the new approaches of its economic policies. In this context the NI notion as expounded in the political ideologies of international politics and international relations by such scholars like E.H. Carr, Hans Morgenthau, Keinhold Weihbow , Charles Beard, Joseph Frankel explained the theoretical framework and conception in the FP decision making of Malaysia. 

In this regard the FP of Malaysia between 1981-2003 could be said to be guided by Tun Mahathir’s political ideology and belief. Malaysia exercised independence, nationalism, assertiveness and was seen profiled in its diplomacy in international relations. For this reason Malaysia identified herself to the small and developing countries, ASEAN (including East Asia) and the Islamic Ummah. Tun Mahathir believed the international order was unjust and unfair to the developing, Islamic and third world countries thus the NI and FP were aligned to them. He was plain speaking in expressing his views that the international order practiced double standards, selectivity, and hypocrisy. To him the system was mainly aligned to the interests of major Western powers. He read the international politics of the west as moving to own hegemony and domination of the developing world. In this Tun Mahathir applied his own norms and ethical values based on his experience and interpretation of history to the NI and FP of Malaysia. He was at times an idealist who wanted to change the global order. Notwithstanding, he was cautions to taint this ideology with a very strong sense of pragmatism. This was often referred by academicians and political writers as the paradox of the policies of Tun Mahathir. He was an idealist (liberalist), at times realist as well as constructivist in the formulation and decision making of the NI and FP.

As a very strong trading nation the economy of Malaysia was one of the most globalised. He criticised globalisation because of the negative impacts of globalisation on the small and developing countries. Was he unreasonable on his approach? The majority of experts and governments would now said he was right. It was during his era that Malaysia achieved credible economic growth and was in the top twenty of the world’s trading nation. For some it was perplexing for Mahathir to go so hard on globalization or to suggest that it was a new form of colonialism or neo colonialism as described decades earlier by Sukarno. To him though neo-colonialism was real and a methodology adopted by Western powers to dominate the world economy and international politics, in short according to recolonize in a different form. Malaysia disliked what she consider the imbalanced and disequilibrium that persisted in the international system which caused the unjust and unfair treatment of the countries of the South, Islamic Ummah and even in the broader perspective ASEAN (including East Asia). He argued there could not be fair competition in the absence of a level playing field. At the core of the FP of Malaysia was the need to change the international system, the rejection of hegemony and refusal to accept domination by the West. These positions were reflected in the FP postures of Malaysia in the speeches and comments made by Tun Mahathir, Ministers and officials at the regional and international fora. Malaysia advocated for the right of every nation to exercise independence, sovereignty and non-interference in the economic and political affairs by other nations. Malaysia was against the use of humanitarian intervention or Right to Protection (R2P) as provided under Chapter VI and VIII of the UN Charter to legitimise interference in internal affairs of another state. Malaysia was at the forefront in criticising the use of this provision of the UN Charter by the west to justify their interventions.

Tun Mahathir had been labelled as anti-West especially in his international political posturing but his interpersonal relationships with some Western political and business leaders would indicate otherwise. There were two sides of Tun Mahathir. Firstly Tun Mahathir in the defence of the NI, he was essently independent and uncompromising and secondly in the economic policy and personal relationships he was a more pragmatist. His actions to some extend were very much driven by his view on the injustice and unfairness of the colonial era, and the international system. He wanted to rearrange the international political, economics, security and societal systems to create a more balanced world order for the benefits of the developing and developed countries. 

Malaysia was a good example of diversity that succeeded. The mosaics of the international society, in his view made it imperative to accept multiculturalism as a source to build a better world. Malaysia throughout her history participated actively in promoting diversity, tolerance and harmony. Despite criticising the West including the US, Malaysia in a pragmatic way maintained close economic, trading, investment, security and military links with the US. This practical approach served her national and strategic interests. 

In my recent interview with Tun Mahathir, he flatly rejected being anti-West, though he accepted he was vocal in criticising them. From his blunt speeches, statements and pronouncements on many aspects of Western civilisation and culture, international politics and relations it was difficult to suggest he was not anti-west. He justified these posturing to be right consistent with the free speech and expression. He reminded his audience what he was doing was consistent with the inherent right of every individual or nation. Tun Mahathir seemed to be a realist but at times showed an inclination towards idealism in FP formulation and decision making. In sum, Tun Mahathir could be regarded a realist / idealist. It was equally true to say he constructed the FP of Malaysia based on the norms and values as he understood them.

Vision 2020 was crafted to create a truly Malaysian nation that is developed, self-confidence, united and respected by other nations. In reality these encapsulated the contents of realism and idealism as well as constructing the policy to attain security, prosperity and wellbeing of all Malaysian citizens. What was obvious in the motivation of the FP of Malaysia was to be treated as equals amongst equals in international relations including on her conduct of FP. The underpinning factor to legitimize the FP of Malaysia had always been the NI. Being different in the policy postures and initiatives should not be equated with being idiosyncratic or iconoclasm. Similarly departing from past traditions because of the needs of the time of the nation and the prevailing conditions of the world order should not change that. The FP of Malaysia was premised on NI, though that NI might change. Taking new postures or initiatives in FP, or for it to be different from the previous policies should not be treated as idiosyncratic or iconoclastic. What was pertinent was the public policy (including FP) must produce the outcomes beneficial to the country. Tun Mahathir insisted he knew when and how to put a brake if the policy was adverse to the interests of Malaysia (Interview on 13 June 2013). In his words he knew when ‘to draw the line’ to ensure the FP did not jeopardise the overall national and strategic interests of Malaysia. This was consistent with the realist conception of balancing power and defining capabilities for coexistence and survival.

In spite of Malaysia being a small nation in term of size and population, some scholars categorized Malaysia as a “middle power” country due to her active participation and contribution to the ideas and activities of the UN, its agencies and the international community. Due to the similarities of historical experience and values, Malaysia found comfort in identifying her security and politics with the countries of the South, Islamic Ummah and ASEAN (including East Asia). Hence Malaysia’s FP was consciously anchored with the struggles of the South, Islamic Ummah and East Asian countries. This was the NI of Malaysia in the political, economic, security and societal domains. The domestic constituents supported the government approach to FP and NI. The FP postures, initiatives and outcomes therefore had relevance and international acceptance, which served the NI of Malaysia. 

The FP motivation for Malaysia under Tun Mahathir to borrow the term of Dr Ahmad Feisal was for recognition which was for dignity and self-esteem (Dr. Ahmad Feisal) of the country, which, I agree). Definitely this quest could be related to the NI of the nation. The pragmatic outcomes of the assertive and profiled FP could be seen actualised when Malaysia played host to the Commonwealth Games, CHOGM, LID, Formula One and others. According to Tun Mahathir through its hosting and participation in regional and international events coupled with economic growth and development it was able to promote Malaysia internationally as well as influenced the international agenda. This made Malaysia known and recognised by other countries. He believed that there was a need for profiling and branding the country as amongst the original five ASEAN countries, Malaysia was the least known internationally. This justified the FP postures and initiatives of Malaysia (Interview with Tun Mahathir on 13 June 2013). This was similarly the reason for reinvigorating the relationship between Malaysia with China, Japan and Korea. The bold steps in finding new directions in the public policy that was in foreign and domestic spheres brought dramatic transformation of the economy, which was in her NI.

Foreign Policy towards the Small and Developing Countries

By defining the NI clearly, and aligning it to the struggles against the injustices and unfairness in the international political system in all dimensions, Malaysia was noticed by Third World countries of the South, the Islamic Ummah and ASEAN including East Asia, as well as the developed countries. Malaysia due to its economic success and political stability was able to take the lead for the interests of developing countries and circumvented the pressure for hegemony and domination of the big Western powers. It was the call of Malaysia for small and developing countries to stand up and defend their rights, interests and well-being. The FP indicated the independent posture of her policy which demonstrated the ability to exercise sovereignty and prevent interference of her domestic policy. This of course could be interpreted as ignoring the reality of international politics and the structure of the international system, nonetheless the implementation of the FP was the NI of Malaysia. 

In the implementation of the FP Tun Mahathir obviously lacked diplomatic finesse. These postures on FP and pronouncements seemed to be contrary to Tun Mahathir personally, who was soft spoken and polite. However, sarcasms and cynicisms were part of his personal traits. According to him, this was his way to get his message across. He repeatedly iterated a small country like Malaysia had to be vocal and loud in order to be heard. One of the common assertive styles of Tun Mahathir was to answer every question posed. Usually he did this bluntly and boldly. He was often seen to be engaged combatively with the West or its media on every subject when he was challenged, be it on the practice of democracy or his authoritarian tendencies or even the so called cronyism in managing the economy of the country. He was populist at hitting back the criticisms of Western countries like US and Australia. He liked to tell the West not to adopt the holier than thou attitude towards the South or Islamic countries, as their own records had not been exemplary, especially in the treatments of the former colonies or of the indigenous population of the countries they colonialised. 

His rhetoric and political statements and pronouncements aside, did not preclude Tun Mahathir from being pragmatic on issues of importance to the security and economy of Malaysia. Tun Mahathir argued that the problem he had with the West was limited to its government leaders and not with the people of the West. Malaysia therefore welcomed Western tourists and investments though it might disagree with their governments on the international political front. Everything he did, boiled down to his complete refusal to accept the international order as it was, on the question of justice, domination, hegemony and the imposition of the Western values and systems on the small and developing or Muslim countries. These thus reflected his sense of justice and fair play in the international order. Of course he had his own interpretation of what democracy and human rights should be. Again in sharp contrast to what were promoted by the west. Malaysia agreed with democracy and human rights but insisted that this should take into account the local conditions and peculiarities, its cultures and values. He asserted that in Asia, the rights and freedom of individuals were not the top priority but rather secondary to the overall interests of the society.

It was for this reason he promoted the concept of Asian values in economic management and politics. The vocal postures of Malaysia to international relations was very unpopular with western countries especially their leaders but he was well received by the societies in the South-South, Islamic Ummah and ASEAN (including East Asia). 

Tun Mahathir’s arguments to the West had always been in preaching democracy they themselves must truly be democratic. He felt the West was quick in criticising the developing countries but could not accept criticisms from the developing countries. The justification for the FP postures and initiatives was to defend and promote Malaysia’s own constituents. 

The FP of Malaysia was active, nationalistic and assertive in defending and promoting her NI. As a player, Malaysia had an influencing role in the organisations of the South countries, such as the NAM, G15, (where Malaysia was one of the founding members). In the Commonwealth Malaysia, during this period, cosponsored the CPTM (he was able to obtain a lot of contributions from the Malaysian corporate sectors) to support its activities. The programme was intended to enhance cooperation between the Small developing countries of the Commonwealth. This was not popular with the Western countries of the Commonwealth especially Australia, Britain and Canada (ABC). They did not agree in the establishment of CPTM or its activities. Malaysia was also one of the main backers of the South Centre, a body established as a secretariat for the South countries to champion the cause of the developing countries on issues of trade and the economy at the WTO in Geneva.

Malaysia showcased itself during the Mahathir era as a model of a successful developing country, though she has a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious population. Malaysia however sustained a more tolerant and harmonious diverse society and was politically stable. She succeeded in the implementation of the NEP, with the objective of achieving economic growth with equity. Malaysia thus stood tall in the community of developing nations and admired even by some developed countries in the West for its economic success and her Vision 2020. 

Foreign Policy towards the Islamic Ummah

As a Muslim majority country it practised Islam with moderation and was able to lead a multi-ethnic diverse society. The position of Islam and modernity stood side by side. To the Malays, their positions revolved around the Islamic faith which was practised in a tolerant and harmonious manner under the patronage of the various constitutional Sultans in each of the Malay state of the Federation. The British recognised the relationship of the Malays with the Sultan when they colonialised or established protectorates in Malaysia. This was made absolutely clear to the colonialist with the rise of Malay nationalism when the Malays rejected the Malayan Union implemented by the British in 1946. This caused the British to withdraw from their desire to force a unitary state and turned Malaya into a colony under the Malayan Union Scheme. Due to the strong opposition the Malayan Union they introduced the Federation of Malaya in 1948. When independence was negotiated and achieved the recognition of the privileges and positions of the Malay rulers and the status of Islam were maintained and incorporated into the Federal constitution. This was further reflected in the definition of a Malay as a person who habitually speaks Malay, practices Malay culture and is a Muslim (Article 160 (2)). By virtue of this definition anyone could be accepted as a Malay in the Malaysian context for so long he fulfils the three criteria. Islam was therefore entrenched in the Malay character, personality and psyche, even when they may not be good Muslims. The special position of Islam and the Malays had to be taken in this context. This was not new as it was present even before the advent of colonialism. Hence to incorporate Islam as the religion of the Federation (Article 3 (1)) in the Federal Constitution should be understood in that manner. Tun Mahathir’s declaration that Malaysia is a Muslim country was not out of turn or regarded unconstitutional by the Malay segment of the society. 

What he had done was simply to reaffirm the historical and legal heritage of the country. Tun Mahathir himself was a keen reader on the subject of Islam. He self-thought on the syariah and the various ‘Mazhabs’, so as to be learned on Islam and its history. He was never accepted as an Ulama’ or Islamic scholar in the traditional sense of the word at the domestic level. He knew this but found more space and ready acceptance of his views as a Muslim leader and scholar amongst the global Muslim community. The declaration that Malaysia is a Muslim state was not wholly accepted by all segments of the Malaysian society and became a bone of contention amongst the opposition parties and other non-Muslims. The fact remained that even Western countries, like the US and UK, accepted Malaysia as a good example of a successful moderate Muslim country to be emulated by other Muslim states.

Before and after independence, Malaysia had always identified itself with the struggle of the Muslims, which was reflected in her FP. Malaysia was one of the founding members of OIC and had strong bilateral relations with the majority of Muslim countries. Malaysia identified the country with the struggle of the Muslim countries and the Islamic Ummah.[1] This role became more pronounced and visible, on issues central to the Ummah. Malaysia was acknowledged as a leader and champion of the Islamic causes. Tun Mahathir on his own admission said his action, was also driven by the domestic political agenda to give UMNO better leverage over PAS to speak on Islam (Interview with Mahathir on 13 June 2013). The FP postures and initiatives on Palestine and Bosnia by Malaysia in the name of justice and humanities were globally recognised. These FP initiatives were justified to be in the country’s NI. In fact a big segment of the domestic constituents supported Malaysia to take such FP postures and initiatives. Furthermore the FP outcomes contributed to the regime’s stability and sustainability in the political, economics, security and social spheres, thus to be in the NI of Malaysia. 

During his premiership he spoke against the stereotyping of Muslims with terrorisms or any forms of extremisms. The argument put forward was acts of terrorisms or extremisms should not be made synonymous with the faith of the offender. They were other acts of terrorism whether committed by non-state actors or state actors but their beliefs or religions were not labelled as such. He lambasted Western governments and media on their double standards and stereotyping in their portrayals of Islam and Muslims. He proposed that the use of drones against the so called terrorists’ targets as acts of terrorism. The West was also considered to be dragging their feet on issues affecting the Palestinians and Bosnians causes. Malaysia was critical of Israel due to its blatant disregard of international laws and the non-compliance with the UN resolutions. Malaysia was disillusioned with the Western failure to take action against Israel for their non-compliance with the UN resolutions or blatant disregard of international law. Malaysia was of the opinion the military action by Israel against the Palestinians as terrorist acts by the state. Malaysia also called on the international community and the UN to take action against the Serb’s genocide acts in Bosnia during the Balkan War. 

Malaysia together with Turkey, Iran and Pakistan defied the UN’s sanction to enable the Bosnians to defend themselves against the Serbs. It was Malaysia that organised the OIC Foreign and Defence Ministers meeting to discuss on the appropriate strategies to discuss the ways to stop Serbs aggression. Malaysia kept its pragmatic, principle and consistent posture when it took part in the peacekeeping force of the UN in Bosnia. Domestically the participation of Malaysia in Bosnia had the support of the Malaysian public. Thus supporting the Palestinian and Bosnian against aggression were deemed to be part of the NI of Malaysia. 

Malaysia took Bosnian who wanted to escape from the war as refugees to its shores. It was not unexpected for Malaysia to associate itself with other Muslim’s countries worldwide as a Muslim majority country. Tun Mahathir was an idealist when he was determined to change the image and trajectory of Islam and Muslims. Malaysia, was recognised as a true model of a Muslim state pursuing modernity and development. The FP in this regard was constructivist when she associated herself with the Muslim countries and Islamic causes, definitely it was not idiosyncratic. 

Malaysia’s courage to criticise the major powers on their unilateral actions in Iraq and Afghanistan was an exception amongst developing countries. It was also Malaysia that propagated Muslim states to be economically and militarily strong. This was well received especially in the Muslim streets of the OIC countries but unpopular with the ruling elites and the Western countries. Tun Mahathir thus became a household name and an icon, while Malaysia became an example of what a Muslim state could do at the international platform. With this proven track record UMNO overcame the challenges of PAS in the domestic political arena. Malaysia gained recognition through its FP postures, initiatives and outcomes which was NI in term of its trajectory of power, security and prosperity. This satisfied the political, economic, security and societal interests and imperatives of the country. 

The FP postures of Malaysia on Palestine, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan was with the objective of pressuring the international community to act and treat Muslim issues not as peripherals but at the centre in a fair and just manner. He also equally blamed the state of the Ummah and her economic conditions that allowed oppressions against the Muslim communities. He also said prejudices and bias of Western powers on the Muslims was due to their own making. He lamented on the absence of a Muslim country as a major power or for that matter as a permanent member of the Security Council. Hitherto Malaysia’s bilateral and multilateral imperatives were closely linked to the struggle of the Islamic Ummah. 

During the Chairmanship of Malaysia of the OIC, she played an active role in bringing substantive issues affecting the well-being of the Ummah. Malaysia participated in regional and international fora and did direct engagements with Western countries and powers on Palestine. These undertakings on behalf of OIC and the Ummah could be associated with the NI of the country, hence Malaysia was acknowledged as a leader. Amongst the least developed countries of the world the figures as published by UNDP, showed two thirds of them were members of the OIC. In this way Malaysia was able to convince fellow Muslim countries that their under development and economic weaknesses shaped their influence and role on the global stage. Therefore the call of Malaysia for Muslim countries to take the route of modernity and human capital development through education was well received, accepted and supported. 

Tun Mahathir aspired to see one day a Muslim nation that was strong and united amongst the international community on the platform of scientific knowledge, consistent with the call of the first five verses in the Surah Iqra’ inter alia which said “to read and learn from the knowledge of creation”. In order to achieve success education in science and technology became imperative to revive the glorious age of Islamic civilization. It was the position of Tun Mahathir for Muslim countries to focus on economic development if Muslim states want to play a bigger role and be respected member of the international community. He called for cooperation and collaboration between the Islamic countries and South-South countries. (Hng Hung Yong, Identity & Ideas : Building National Identity, 2004, p141). 

Tun Mahathir’s ambition was to see Malaysia become a role model of a successful and developed Muslim nation as envisaged in Vision 2020. Hence the economic focus on his public policy became an important element in the NI of Malaysia. (Interview with Tun Mahathir on 13 June 2013). 

The FP was implemented and its outcomes showed that the FP postures and initiatives did not have an adverse impacts on the political, economic, security and societal interests and imperatives of Malaysia. The FP implementations made Malaysia to be accepted as the leader of the Ummah. This demonstrated her independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and free from external interferences. These benefitted the national and strategic interests of Malaysia in a consistent, principled and pragmatic manner.

Foreign Policy and Malaysia’s Regionalism

Regionalism was one of the cornerstone’s of the FP of Malaysia since the time of Tunku. Tun Mahathir continued with the policies of his predecessors. Maintaining regionalism was a fundamental factor of the NI. The prerequisite for domestic economic growth and development was to see the region living in peace, security and stability with freedom and neutrality free from any major powers rivalry. Thus maintaining very close bilateral and multilateral relations with ASEAN as well as with the North East Asian countries became a pertinent priority of its FP. On top of that Tun Mahathir strongly believed East Asia could be the counter balance for the attainment of a more just and fair world order.

ASEAN when it was formed had as one of its primary objectives, the avoidance of open military conflicts between and amongst South East Asian nations. Pursuant to this principle they hold that all disputes between them should be settled through peaceful means. Initially it could be said the reason behind the formation of ASEAN was as a counter balance to the spread of communism in South East Asia spearheaded by Vietnam.[2] ASEAN was formed after the confrontation with Indonesia ended and Malaysia re-established diplomatic relations with both Indonesia and the Philippines. With peace and security the five countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore came together to form ASEAN premised on the principles of freedom, social justice and economic wellbeing (Bangkok Declaration of 8 August 1967). 

ASEAN as a mechanism for South East Asia ensured peace, progress and prosperity in the region, with the ideals of the Bangkok Declaration for the nations to cooperate in the spirit of understanding, good neighbourliness and meaningful cooperation. ASEAN reaffirmed their desire to maintain stability and security from external interference. Generally this was achieved as the region enjoyed peace, stability and security[3]. Similarly the TAC reaffirms the objectives of promoting regional peace and stability and to respect justice, rule of law and enhancing regional resilience in their relations[4]. Both these documents were ratified consistent with the national and strategic interests of Malaysia. With equal status and national resilience, South East Asia established close cooperation and built trust amongst each other in order to avoid conflicts. This then became the basis of inter and intra ASEAN cooperation to avoid South East Asia from turning into a platform of big power rivalry. It was due to these objectives and spirit of inclusiveness that ASEAN was finally expanded to include all the ten nations of South East Asia. The recognition of equal status, non-interference enabled the NI of Malaysia to be promoted and defended. This also became the predication of its relationship with external powers outside the region. The respect for each other as proclaimed by the Bangkok Declaration not only bind intra ASEAN relations but also its relations with the North East Asian countries. 

ASEAN holds firmly the ideals of respect and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other nations. Whilst this doctrine was laudable but at times it created problems when there were outright human rights abuses or conflicts within a particular ASEAN nation. To remain silent could be likened to endorsing the abuses. The strategic location of Malaysia with shared maritime as well as land borders with almost all of its ASEAN neighbours made it imperative for Malaysia to choose the route of peaceful settlement of disputes and avoidance of open conflicts. There were strains as well as the ups and downs of the bilateral relations between Malaysia and her ASEAN neighbours particularly on overlapping claims and strained relationship due to internal political differences especially with Singapore. This could be attributed to the personalities of Lee Kuan Yew and Tun Mahathir. More than that due to the historical baggage of separation, Singapore was perceived to lack sensitivity and adopted business-like approach in its relations with Malaysia. This was aggravated further when “The Package of Issues” negotiated between the leaders could not be resolved such as on CPF, Air space, water agreements and the overlapping claims on Batu Puteh or Pedra Blanca. 

During this period, the relationship between Indonesia and Malaysia though generally cordial, at times went through difficult patches on issues relating to Indonesian migrant workers and overlapping claims on Ligitan and Sipadan. However, the personal relationship between Tun Mahathir and Suharto saved the day and avoided it to turn into tension in the overall bilateral relations. Nonetheless after the downfall of Suharto and the financial crisis in 1997/98, the adoption of democracy in Indonesia, the bilateral relations between the two countries became more complex and challenging as Indonesia was more dominant and assertive in its conduct of her bilateral and regional affairs. 

The ASEAN solidarity and its policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other ASEAN countries was slightly shaken when Malaysia was criticised on the sacking by Tun Mahathir of Anwar Ibrahim in September 1998, the then Deputy PM. I was personally involved in the campaign to counter the negative impacts of Anwar’s dismissal amongst ASEAN countries as well as its Western dialogue partners. Malaysia to some extend was successful in its campaign amongst ASEAN countries, as criticisms on the action against Anwar became more muted but the Anwar issue continued to be loud and clear on the Western fronts. 

Tun Mahathir was always searching for new ways to strengthen and enhance the trade and economic relations of East Asian Countries. The idea of EAEG / EAEC was initiated as a result of witnessing that greater cooperation amongst the countries of the North with the establishment of NAFTA and EU had benefitted them in the economics, investment and trade. Tun Mahathir came out with the idea for the formulation of East Asia for economic and trade cooperation amongst ASEAN and the countries of North East Asia. However this invited strong adverse reactions particularly from the US and Australia, who were excluded from the proposed mechanism. They assumed that this was done on purpose though in reality they were excluded on the basis of the geographical footprint since they were outside the region. Malaysia’s assurance that this was not the case did not intended convince them. It was seen as to undermine, APEC or exclude western countries. They did not accept that this was to emulate NAFTA and EU in the expansion of their economy and trade. EAEC was not as a mere thought of loose consultative mechanism for cooperation on economic and trade matters in an interdependent globalized world. US and Australia openly criticised and objected to the formation of EAEG or its substitute EAEC. The pursuit of an expanded economic mechanism would fulfil the NI of Malaysia. In one of the ASEAN FM’s meeting in Jakarta, the writer was asked by Tun Mahathir to offer Kuala Lumpur as the venue for the EAEC Secretariat at Malaysia’s cost. This idea was not well received and rejected by ASEAN particularly Indonesia and Singapore. The EAEC was perceived to be intended to undermine APEC, which was driven by US and Australia and in ASEAN, Singapore. 

Malaysia and Tun Mahathir in particular could not accept why it should be opposed so strongly. The objection to EAEG / EAEC was thus construed as another clear evidence of the distrust of the West on ASEAN and a demonstration of its intent on hegemony. Malaysia however was not easily dissuaded but kept on pursuing the idea but EAEC could not take off. However the financial crisis of 1997/1998 saw the need for the ASEAN and the countries of East Asia to expand their cooperation. Since EAEC was not an acceptable concept, an alternative was agreed to with the establishment of ASEAN+3 mechanism. It was duly formed during the financial crisis to harnessed this objective of cooperation. This in a way comforted Malaysia earlier failure to establish the EAEC. This proposal and ultimately the establishment of ASEAN+3 was consistent with the NI of Malaysia as well as the region. The individual member state of ASEAN gained tremendous economic benefits through ASEAN + 3, which in reality was the EAEC under a different name. 

Tun Mahathir wanted to get more space for Asian values in the new global civilization. There was nothing unbecoming for Malaysia to ask that the East Asian countries be given a bigger role in the decision making processes of a new international order and institutions due to the contribution of East Asia to the global economy. The notion for justice and humanities in the international system had the consensus, relevance and acceptance within Malaysia the South-South countries, Islamic Ummah and East Asia, which made the policies become a significant component of the NI as contained in Vision 2020. 

In an interdependent world Malaysia acknowledged that its future was very closely aligned to the region, though Malaysia rejected hegemony by the West. She was sensitive to the question of exercising independence, sovereignty, and non-interference in her domestic affairs to maintain the territorial integrity in the pursuit of the NI consistent with the political, economic, security and societal interests and imperatives. As a member of the international community Malaysia performed her responsibilities and obligations in concord with the UN Charter. 

Conclusion

The various FP postures, initiatives and outcomes during the Mahathir’s era was shaped and influenced by the NI, with change and continuity. It was not motivated by idiosyncrasy or iconoclasm of Tun Mahathir. Malaysia showed in her FP it was guided by her national and strategic interests. She was at the same time pragmatic in her management of FP to achieve her political, economic, security and societal interests and imperatives.

*The subject was deliberated based on my experience as a Foreign Minister during Tun Mahathir’s era from 1999 to 2003, under Abdullah Badawi from 2003 – 2009, a Cabinet Minister in the government of Malaysia from 1990 to 2009. It would also include my interactions and interviews with Tun Mahathir, officials and academics, who were familiar with the subject. There were already many existing writings on various aspects of Tun Mahathir leadership and his role in shaping of the FP of Malaysia. 
__________________________________________________________________

[1] (Shanti Nair, Islam in Malaysian Foreign Policy, London & New York Routeledge, 1997, p.269)
[2] During this period there was a believed that if Vietnam fell to the communist it would have a domino effect on other countries in South East Asia. This was propagated by the US and other western powers. However this was proven not to be true. Vietnam now is also part of ASEAN.
[3] Bangkok Declaration : 8 August 1967
[4] Treaty Amity & Cooperation, Bali : 1976

Monday, May 5, 2014

SECURITY INTEREST OF MALAYSIA IN FOREIGN POLICY


Security has been defined by Wolfers, “as a value which a nation can have more or less, which it can aspire to have in a greater or less measure”. (David A. Baldwin, p14). (Wolfers, National Security, p485). Bernard Brodie disagreed with this proposition of Wolfers as he considered security is not a matter of degree. To support his argument he quoted General Jacob L. Devers when he said “National Security is a condition which cannot be qualified. We shall either be secure or we shall be insecure. We cannot have partial security. If we are only half secure, we are not secure at all. (p14) (Bernard Brodie)
      
      David Baldwin took the position that security “has recently become something of a cottage industry” (p5). In other words it is ignored or neglected. Why did he take this position?
      
      Buzan made a proposition that “security at the individual level is related to security at the level of the State and the international system” (p3). Ulman, on the other hand took security from the perspectives of democracy and freedom, when he observed, “one way of moving toward a comprehensive definition of security is to ask what one would be willing to give up in order to obtain more security” (p8). 
      
      Both these propositions did not premise them on the understanding of what the “concept of security” is. Baldwin was of the view that this approach did not help in understanding what security is (p9). Baldwin puts it that “security as a policy objective and proceed to specifications for defining policies for pursuing that objective”. (Baldwin, p12). This will allow for the objective to be stated and the processes then can be put in place to attain the objective.
      
      Individuals, states and other social actors have differing values on what they consider as security which would include physical safety, economic welfare and autonomy, psychological well being (Ibid p14). 

      The concept of national security would traditionally include political independence and territorial integrity as the values that need to be protected (p13). Joseph Nye when asking about what Americans want most answered the question by stating “most want a sense of security – the absence of threats at home or abroad”. According to Nye American people share an interest in world order and they want their foreign policy to contain values on democracy, human rights or a sense of national pride. Realist FP scholars took the position that national interest should only be identified with strategic interest not values and disagree with moralising the concept. (National interest in determining foreign policy (p2)). 
      
      Furthermore, order is of fundamental importance to achieve the shared interests in security, economic well being and identity (p2). In an interdependent world, events in the external domain could have an impact on the domestic front. 

      Moving from the above stated premise, what states need to address are their security concerns, as they affect the national interests. Failure to do so could threaten the very survival and sovereignty of the States. However, due to the multidimensional changes and developments in international relations a broader definition of security has to be found. What’s obvious is that in the Post Cold War period the notion of national security cannot be limited to traditional military security that is to prepare against external aggression. Robert O’Neill (Security Challenges for South East Asia after the Cold War, “the nature of security issues has changed considerably from the more military confrontations of huge blocks to the more political, economic and social challenges” (p.16 – in his thesis on Master Degree) 

      Dr. Mahathir acknowledged the position of interdependence when he said, “We can no longer regard many of our problems today as specific to a country or region. The future prosperity of a country is very dependent on other countries as much as the problem or potential destruction of a country is dependent on other countries”.1(Govin Alagasari (1994). Mahathir : The Awakening, p22)
      
      K.N. Waltz suggests a different approach to studying the concept of security, namely the analysis should be centred on individuals, states and the international system (p170). Whilst Buzan developed the concept of security of Waltz. He concluded that the concept could best be served at all levels by a multi-layered approach. The security interest in this case could begin from the defence strategy to include all segments of the community to participate in the National Security. The national security policy could than be crafted based on self reliance to resolve conspicuous vulnerabilities be it in the political, economic, social or military arena of the state. Additionally there could be security grouping among a group of States (such as the FPDA). These could take the form of alliances and defense communities formalised, like Malaysia/US bilateral defence debate cooperation, establishments of zones of peace (ZOPFAN, TAC, SEANFWEZ), arm purchase arrangements, dispute settlement procedures and arms production and purchase agreement. At the highest level of the multilateral process there is the UN. The UN is the focus for dialogues, interactions and mechanism for creating peace and security international law and order. 
      
      Abdul Menem M. Al-Marhat talks about challenges faced by Third World countries in national security (p18). According to him there is a need to create a balance between multifaceted requisites of socioeconomic and political developments and the problems of maintaining internal stability and national defence. This is exactly what Malaysia did in profiling its security interest requirements. In this situation, it will not be sufficient just to emphasize on the international security threats from war and violence without taking into account the socioeconomic vulnerabilities to attain development and well being of its citizens. 
      
      In Malaysia, there is the imperative of maintaining national unity and harmony of its diverse community in term of race, religion and culture as well as establishing international cooperation as part of its national security strategy. The national unity and harmony factor will ensure cohesion for consensus building efforts for national integration. (As prescribed under Vision 2020). In order for the government to be sustainable and obtain legitimacy, it has to satisfy the needs and wants of its people, socially and politically. In this regard the policy option available is through induction of a national ideology and laws that will ensure order and political stability. Examples the (Sedition Act) or (Internal Security Act to sustain political stability and law and order). In a democratic system this approach is considered as coercion by means of oppressive laws that limits freedom and democracy. However, the outcome from it was the political stability and internal security. Security in this context was taken from the couple of the domestic, regional and international perspectives (p19). 
      
      Mohammad Ayob says like any other Third World country that possessed diversity, the domestic dimension of security plays a most significant role. Vulnerabilities left by itself can explode into internal strife and conflicts (May 13, 1969 racial riots). These internal conflicts can end up into interstate conflicts which may cause instability. In some instances it might bring about neighbouring countries to intervene in the internal affairs or under the international humanitarian law by major powers either unilaterally, which action would subsequently then be legitimized through the UNSC. (The bombing of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq by US/West and its coalition partners). In the era of Dr. Mahathir the NI and FP of Malaysia was strongly grounded on the principle of non-interference on the domestic affairs of another nation state. Malaysia also refused to accept the right of pre-emptive strike. The Civil War in Pakistan between East and West Pakistan, caused India to intervene. The conflict was finally resolved through the establishment of the state of Bangladesh. 
      
      William Asher and William H, talks about strategic planning based on a fixed interests, juxtaposed with a fixed environment, to craft a strategy taking into account the national interests subject to the constraints of the geopolitical environment. 
      
      Malaysia’s security interest, thus its strategy was based on the threats perception confronting it. These mostly involved non-traditional rather than traditional security threats. A comprehensive definition of national security to incorporate current developments had been suggested by Nayef Al Rodhan, under his “Multi Sum Security Principle” which states “in a globalised world, security can no longer be thought of as a zero sum game involving states alone. Global security, instead, has five dimensions that include human, environmental, national, transnational, transcultural security and therefore, global security and the security of any state or culture cannot be achieved without good governance at all levels that guarantees security through justice for all individuals, states and cultures. (Al Rodhan, Nayef R.F., The Five Dimensions of Global Security: Proposal for a Multi Sum Security Principle, LIT, 2007). 
      
      The “Multi Sum Security Principle” provides the most holistic approach towards understanding the meaning of national security as well as how global security can be maintained. It encompasses the internal as well as the external dynamics pertaining to traditional and non traditional security issues. Hans H. Indorf” said, “….for small states, the philosophical foundations of security must be viewed in the total context (p__). A small state cannot afford to get involved in conflict”. It is for this reason, Malaysia has always employed the tool of diplomacy, dialogue and third party mechanisms to resolve disputes on the overlapping claims such as in the case of Ligitan and Sipadan with Indonesia and Batu Puteh with Singapore. 
      
      Malaysia as a multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious nation is very sensitive to any forms of extremism. For example, the Al Mauna or the Al Arkam.  “But building a nation out of a diverse people with differing historical, ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural and geographical backgrounds is something more than just fostering consensus on the basic character of a nation state. It involved fostering shared historical experiences: shared values; a feeling of common identity and shared destiny that transcends ethnic bonds without undermining ethnic identity, loyalty, commitment and an emotional attachment to the nation; and the flowering of distinctly national ethos .....”.2 (Govin Alagasari (1994). Mahathir : The Awakening, p119). Both, perceived and the real threat had been handled firmly and decisively in the name of security and stability. 

      Malaysia is also mindful of the presence of piracy on the high seas and regional waters. The maritime water that separates Peninsular Malaysia from Sabah and Sarawak is 600km long and the coast line of Sabah is 1400km long. Any security lapses can be costy. The Semporna and Lahad Datu aggression by terrorist group from Southern Philippines was a good example of this security lapses. For that matter any separatist movements or disgruntled groups in Southern Phillipines and Southern Thailand could pose security threats to Malaysia. In the rapid pace of Malaysia’s economic developments since the eighties and nineties, it had attracted a large number of legal as well as illegal immigrants seeking for employment and economic opportunities which already caused social problems to the country. This could also pose a security threat if not properly managed. 
      
      Malaysia’s security interest in the Mahathir era though not strongly focused on the traditional security issues, acknowledged the presence of a number of hot spots in the region that could change the security environment quickly. For example, overlapping claims in the South China Sea and Spratlys issue. China and other claimant states have agreed that the claims should be resolved peacefully through diplomacy and dialogue. The Code of Conduct on the South China Sea signed by all claimants is with the objective for maintaining status quo while a peaceful resolution are being worked out. But this is engulfed with a lot of difficulty and complex issues that need to be handled cautiously and prudently. Similarly the situation between Jepun and China Senkuku Island, in the Korean Peninsular and China – Taiwan issues are matters of concerns to Malaysia and other countries in the Asean region. Even though Mahathir had been vocal and critical about the negative effects of globalization on developing South Countries, he recognised that the process is unstoppable. 

      What Malaysia called for is a fairer and more equitable international system. It also acknowledged that the country had benefited from globalization. In the international politics realm, old conflicts between states and new ones (The Balkan War) caused resurface which lead to open conflicts. The other global security concerns in the non-traditional area is the threat of international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These are matters that could threaten international peace and security adversely affecting the regional, international and national security environment. 
      
      The economic and financial effects of globalization had hit harder on the developing South countries. East Asia suffered the most as a result of the financial crisis in 1997/98, which brought social misery and economic disaster as well as political instability. (Particularly in Thailand and Indonesia). Malaysia decided to pursue its own model in overcoming the financial crisis and succeeded. 
      
      Malaysia’s security interest requires it to formulate a security strategy, which is comprehensive and multilayered (Asian Security Practice, K.S. Nathan). Towards this end, Malaysia security interest would revolve around the factors of: 

1. Hanruh – a comprehensive security strategy undertaken through sustaining domestic social cohesion (national unity and harmony of its citizens) coupled with creating a stable regional environment. This is done through ASEAN, ARF and the Dialogue partners mechanisms and relationship. 

2. In its international relations, it considers diplomacy as the first line of defence. 

3. Adherence and commitment to the UN charter in promoting peace, security and development. (Its participation amongst others, in Bosnia, Lebanon are examples of its commitments). 

4. Encouragement of security dialogues to promote collective strategy (ARF). 

5. To promote CBM’s especially in the area of crisis management.

6. Military diplomacy through contacts, joint exercises, exchanges and training cooperation with US, Indonesia and Singapore. ‘

7. Promotion of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

8. Modernization of the MAF – for defending national sovereignty which enhance national security. 

      When Mahathir announced his Vision 2020 on 28 February 1991 (Malaysia the Way Forward), the objective was for Malaysia to be a developed nation by that year. In this Vision, according to K.S. Nathan it has both the element of conception and strategy on the national security of Malaysia to create a united Malaysian nation, outward looking, the society has a strong moral and ethical values, to ensure that the state is democratic, liberal and tolerant, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous, and to develop an economy that is competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient. 

      This formulation of Vision 2020 contains the elements of a Realist, liberalist and constructivists combined together. This policy was premised on economic development policy based on values. 

In summary Malaysia’s security interest is hypothecated on the following security concept:

1. 1st Security Interest – Neutralizing Existential Threats – these are threats which threaten the very existence of Malaysia. Classic example is Confrontation when Indonesia threatened to Crush Malaysia as it was construed by Sukarno as a Western ploy to create hegemony and a neo-colonialist agenda. To neutralize in future such threats, based on NI, the FP maintains the Five-Power Defence Arrangement even during the rocky times in our relationship with UK and Australia. 

2. 2nd security interest – Neutralizing Potential Sources of Armed Conflict with other states – these are threats which may lead to armed conflict although they do not threaten Malaysia’s existence. Some examples are overlapping claims on the China Sea and Spratlys. Malaysia’s FP emphasizes (i) the respect for the rule of international law in resolving such claims e.g. Sipadan and Ligitan with Indonesia, Batu Puteh with Singapore where both countries agreed to refer the disputes to ICJ to resolve. (ii) using mutual economic benefit e.g. JDA with Thailand. One was decided in favour of Malaysia (Ligitan and Sipadan) and the other against it (Batu Puteh). 

3. 3rd Security Interest – Neutralizing Threats to the Existing Socio-Political Order in Malaysia – one classic case of this is the Communist Insurgency or the current threats from international terrorism. This did not threaten the sovereignty of Malaysia but it threatened the Constitutional system of the nation. The FP posture in this respect is to pro-actively stop potential sources of support for such threat. E.G. The government used our diplomatic relations with China to stop not just China’s aid to CPM but also to stop party to party ties between CCP and CPM. Also even during low points of bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore, it never let it affect the security cooperation with Singapore at the bilateral level and the arrangement under the FPDA. 

4. 4th Security Interest – Neutralizing Constraints on Malaysia freedom of action – Malaysia want to prevent domination of the region by any one big power as this will constraint our own freedom of action. “This interdependence must be viewed as an asset for the good and prosperity of all, not an opportunity and framework for manipulation and oppression by the stronger nations”.3 (Govin Alagasari (1994). Mahathir :

The Awakening (p22)). Mahathir was vocal on Western domination and hegemony. In this regard the FP promotes a diversity of ties. Whilst Malaysia has strained political relations with US, it allows the visits by US Navy ships even though it can be stridently against many aspects of US policies. Malaysia did not join other Asian countries in demanding repeated apologies from Japan, as Malaysia wants Japan to play an active role in Malaysia. Malaysia diversified its sources of defence procurements such as buying military assets from UK, US, France and Russia. 

The main security interest of Malaysia is to defend and protect its national interest. The subject of security interest is very much interrelated to maintaining political stability and the societal harmony of its multi ethnic, multi religion and multicultural foundation and structure of its society. The defence of these interests and the security of the nation is inseparable from the issue of sovereignty, territorial, integrity and the economic well being. 

Malaysia security interests are not limited to the traditional security threats but also include non-traditional security issues. What are the non-traditional security questions that Malaysia has to address? These include terrorism, illegal immigrants and piracy. It is a phenomena that persists in the region which involves inter states conflicts and disputes and geopolitical concerns. Non-traditional security issues can be from state and non-state actors. 

Unresolved issues during the post Cold War could cause instability if not properly managed. For peace, stability and prosperity to exist it requires state not only to rely on acting alone but acting in concert and cooperation regionally in order to defence potential tensions that could jeopardize the whole region’s security. It is for this reason that Malaysia places regionalism as pivotal instrument in its FP postures and actions consistent with its NI. Any form of threat whether emanating from traditional or non-traditional sources in the region could have negative and detrimental effects in this globalised and interdependent world to Malaysia’ security, economic development and well being. 

5. 5th Security Interest – Neutralizing threats by non-state actors – which included Jemaah Islamiah, Al-Mauna, Arqam etc. Based on its NI, the FP emphasized cooperation with its neighbour e.g. Singapore, Indonesia, Phillipines, etc to reduce or neutralize such threats. 

      Within the above framework Malaysia’s adherence and support of the UN, the concentric rings of Malaysia’s NI and FP in the Mahathir Era are prioritised accordingly. ASEAN and East Asia, UN, OIC, NAM and Commonwealth. This served Malaysia’s security interest in a practical and pragmatic way. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MENGIMBAS TARIKH YANG SIGNIFIKAN DALAM HIDUP


14 hb Januari ada lah satu tarikh yang amat signifikan untuk saya kerana pada tarikh itu dalam tahun 1977 ayahanda saya, Almarhum Syed Jaafar bin Hasan bin Hussin bin Muhammad Albar meninggal dunia di Muar, Johor ketika sedang memberi ucapan di perjumpaan Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO, Johor. Setahun sebelum itu, pada tarikh yang sama iaitu 14hb Januari 1976, Allahyarham Tun Razak, Perdana Menteri yang kedua meninggal dunia di United Kingdom.

Mengikut cerita Allahyarham Tun Omar Yoke Lin, pada 14hb Januari 1977, sedang mereka berada di majlis tahlil di rumah Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak, lampu secara tiba-tiba terpadam. Apabila lampu menyala semula, di umumkan yang ayahanda saya telah kembali ke rahmatullah di Muar, Johor. 

Saya pula pada hari itu sibuk dengan persediaan untuk sambutan majlis hari lahir saya pada keesokan hari pada 15hb Januari yang mana semua ahli keluarga termasuk ayahanda dan bonda serta kawan rapat telah di undang untuk turut bersama meraikan hari gembira dan bersejarah dalam permulaan hidup saya. 

Tetapi, ketentuan dari Allah s.w.t. telah mendahului segalanya; Kita hanya merancang Allah swt jua menentukan - hari yang gembira berubah sedih untuk seluruh keluarga dan juga perjuangan UMNO, khususnya Pergerakan Pemuda, yang kehilangan seorang Ketua yang tegas, berdedikasi dan tidak mementingkan diri sendiri. 

Ayahanda saya yang di beri gelaran 'Singa UMNO' kerana ketegasan, keberanian dan kelantangan beliau dalam menyuarakan teguran dan pandangan dalam politik dan perjuangan tanah air. Sifat dan sikap beliau ini dimaklumkan kepada saya oleh veteran-veteran UMNO seperti Tan Sri Ashaari, Tan Sri Khalid Abdullah, Dato’ Seri Syed Nahar, Tan Sri Aishah Ghani, Tan Sri Hussein Ahmad dan ramai lagi termasuk dari kalangan pemimpin-pemimpin akar umbi UMNO. Mereka ada bermacam cerita tentang contoh ketegasan mengenai beliau.

Saya menyesal kerana tidak merakam maklumat-maklumat lisan semasa diceritakan kerana kebanyakan mereka hari ini sudah tiada lagi. Begitu juga ahli UMNO di peringkat akar umbi yang mempunyai kenangan dan ingatan yang berbagai mengenai sikap dan tabiatnya.

Saya teringat kata-kata beliau memohon supaya Allah swt mengambil nyawa beliau dalam perjuangan bukan di atas katil. Allah makbulkan doa nya – Ditakdirkan beliau rebah diserang penyakit jantung ketika membuat ucapan balas kepada Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Johor dan meninggal dunia di Hospital Muar. 

Sebelum rebah, beliau sempat mewasiatkan dan berpesan supaya ahli dan pemimpin UMNO tidak berpecah hanya kerana berbeza pendapat. Pendirian beliau ini mencerminkan sifat beliau yang memang terkenal dengan kelantangannya bersuara dan bercakap terus terang tanpa khuatir, jika ada sebabnya. 

Keputusan beliau menawarkan diri sebagai calon Ketua Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Malaysia tidak disenangi oleh pucuk pimpinan walaupun beliau rakyat Johor dan Ahli Parlimen Kota Tinggi. Saya sendiri terfikir bahawa keputusan beliau untuk bertanding akan mengundang masalah kerana beliau tidak dikehendaki. Realitinya, beliau akan menentang Dato Mohammad Rahmat, seorang tokoh UMNO Johor yang lebih muda dan disokong kuat oleh pucuk pimpinan tertinggi parti dan kerajaan. Sudah tentu ramai di negeri Johor yang tidak senang dengan keputusan ini.

Namun beliau tetap bertegas dengan keputusannya untuk bertanding kerana provokasi keatasnya serta krisis Dato’ Harun yang telah mengoncang kedudukan UMNO. Beliau mahu menjadi jambatan untuk merapatkan jurang antara pemuda UMNO dan pucuk pimpinan.

Media massa lebih-lebih lagi akhbar Utusan Melayu tidak berselindung dengan pandangan sinis terhadap beliau. Walaupun begitu semangatnya tetap kental dan cekal. Beliau buat keputusan melawan jentera Presiden parti dan PErdana Menteri. Lagipula beliau hanya berbekal dengan satu pencalonan dari Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Bahagian Beruas, Perak. Ini bukanlah satu perkara yang mudah dan mengikut ramalan media dan pemerhati politik, beliau akan dikalahkan teruk. Itulah sangkaan.

Suasana dan persekitaran pada Mesyuarat Agong UMNO boleh dikatakan gusar dan panas. Namun ia berjalan lancar dan pengundian untuk jawatan-jawatan dalam Pergerakan Pemuda juga berjalan dengan aman. Habis pengundian dan undi dikira Pengerusi Tetap mengumumkan Albar menang dengan kelebihan undi dua ratus lebih. Pada ketika itu bergemalah Dewan DBP dengan laungan serentak “Allahuakbar”. Bersemangat kembali Pemuda UMNO menyambut kemenangan ini di Hotel Federal dalam suasana meriah dan gembira. Mengapa tidak, Pemuda UMNO merasakan maruah dan digniti mereka telah di kembalikan. Suhaimi Kamarudin menang sebagai Naib Presiden. Satu senarai ahli exco yang mantap juga sudah terpilih. 

Sememangnya, Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO pada zaman itu berani dan lantang bersuara dalam pendirian mereka berbeza dengan keadaan sekarang. Pertandingan itu berakhir dengan beliau dipilih sebagai Ketua Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Malaysia dengan undi majority yang besar dengan sokongan kebanyakannya datang dari luar negeri Johor. 

Selepas menang, beliau terus bergegas ke Sri Perdana untuk bertemu Tun Hussein sebagai Presiden Parti. Malangnya Presiden parti tidak membenarkan beliau masuk kerana calon favoritnya ditewaskan teruk. Mengikut cerita Dato’ Wahab Majid, beliau akhirnya dibenarkan masuk atas pujukan Tun Suhaila.

Dalam pertemuan kedua-dua pemimpin kemesraan di antara mereka terjalin semula. Maka terkeluarlah cerita yang ada orang telah memfitnah kononnya Albar bertanding untuk menjatuhkan Presiden. Itu sebenarnya tersasar dari kebenaran. 

Mengikut cerita Allahyarham, beliau menjelaskan kepada Tun Hussein bahawa beliau tiada niat langsung untuk menjatuhkan Tun Hussein dan jawatan Ketua Pemuda hanyalah jambatan untuk mengukuhkan UMNO yang mula menampakkan keretakan dan perpecahan disebabkan krisis Dato’ Harun dan pemergian Tun Abdul Razak. Tun Hussein berpuas hati dengan penjelasan ini.

Walaubagaimanapun, akhirnya Tun Hussein berundur kerana tekanan politik dari dalam dan juga faktor kesihatan. Anehnya, orang yang melawan Tun Hussein pada tahun 1979 adalah Sulaiman Palestin. Itulah merbahayanya fitnah lebih-lebih lagi dari dari orang yang dekat dengan Perdana Menteri. Orang lain yang teraniaya. Saya faham dan merasai ini kerana saya melalui proses yang sama sehingga kini.

Mengikut apa yang diceritakan oleh rakan-rakan seperjuangan beliau dalam UMNO, Albar memberi dan meniupkan semangat dan roh baru kepada perjuangan Pemuda UMNO yang mula malap semenjak krisis Dato’ Harun.

Albar tidak pernah berhasrat untuk melahirkan ’parti dalam parti’ tetapi sebaliknya mahu pemuda UMNO menjadi kumpulan yang beliau gelar ’ginger group’ bagi mengukuhkan perjuangan UMNO secara keseluruhan.

Memanglah kami sekeluarga berasa amat bangga di atas kemenangan beliau sebagai Ketua Pemuda pada masa umurnya menjangkau 62 tahun. Kalau ikut kemahuan kami ahli keluarga, kami mahu beliau bersara kerana berpendapat sudah cukup beliau berkhidmat dan berkorban untuk UMNO dan negara dari muda. Tetapi bersara dari perjuangan bukan sifat Albar. Hidup beliau penuh dengan perjuangan dan tiada persaraan dalam perjuangannya. 

Namun Allah swt lebih menyayangi Albar. Beliau telah menghembuskan nafas terakhirnya di hospital Muar dan bonda saya ada bersamanya. Walaupun MB pada masa itu Othman Saat minta ayahanda kami disemadikan di Muar, keluarga memutuskan agar jenazahnya di bawa pulang ke KL. Malam itu juga jenazahnya tiba di Rumah pada pukul 4 pagi di No 6 Jalan Stonor, Kuala Lumpur. 

Dari waktu itu mulalah ramai pengunjung datang menziarah ke kediaman kami. Ada yang terperanjat dan ada yang sedih. Kami menerima ucapan takziah dari ribuan manusia sehingga persekitaran rumah sesak dengan pengunjung-pengunjung dari pelbagai lapisan masyarakat, rakyat mahupun ahli politik dari pelbagai kaum. Antara kenamaan yang hadir ialah Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Syed Nasir, Tun Sulaiman, Tun Aishah Ghani, Tunku Razaleigh, Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin, Tan Sri Senu Abdul Rahman, Daim Zainuddin, Sulaiman Alias dan ramai lagi termasuk rakyat dari Kota Tinggi dan seluruh negara.

Suasana dan perasaan sedih menyelubungi persekitaran rumah dan hati kami sekeluarga. Ketika itu kami juga dimaklumkan bahawa Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO telah mendapat persetujuan Dr. Mahathir (dikala itu Tun Hussein berada di luar negara dan Tun Mahathir adalah Timbalan Perdana Menteri) untuk menyemadikan ayahanda saya di perkarangan Makam Pahlawan, Masjid Negara. 

Beliau adalah orang yang pertama dikebumi di perkarangan Makam Pahlawan dan Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman pernah memberitahu saya bahawa tempat persemadian itu adalah satu keputusan yang tepat.

Aturan pengkebumian telah dibuat oleh Tan Sri Mansoor Mohd Noor CPO Kuala Lumpur. Beliau mencadangkan supaya jenazah tidak dibawa dengan van jenazah, disebaliknya di usung berjalan kaki dari Jalan Stonor melalui bandar ke Jalan Imbi dan Jalan Pudu sehingga ke Masjid Negara. Agak jauh perjalanannya tetapi Tan Sri Mansor menganggap ia sesuai untuk seorang pemimpin dan pejuang. Oleh kerana ribuan orang turut serta, jenazah yang di usung berasa ringan. Tanpa di rasai tidak lama kemudian jenazah tiba di Masjid Negara. Di sini juga penuh sesak dengan manusia. Semua ahli keluarga turut bersama memberi penghormatan terakhir kepada seorang suami, bapa, datuk, pemimpin dan pejuang yang berkorban hingga ke akhir hayatnya. Hanya adik saya yang bongsu Syed Zaid tidak sempat menatap wajah beliau kerana masih dalam perjalanan pulang dari United Kingdom. Namun begitu, beliau sempat juga tiba di Pusara sebelum tanah menutupi jenazah ayahanda. 

Hari itu cukup sayu bagi seluruh keluarga. Lebih-lebih lagi bonda saya. Kasih sayang mereka bersama semasa susah dan senang sehinggalah ke hembusan nafas terakhir Allahyarham. 

Bagi saya, saya hilang seorang guru, penasihat dan penyokong yang kuat dalam perjalanan hidup. Beliau senantiasa mengambil berat tentang kesejahteraan keluarga dengan menziarah setiap rumah anak-anak kini tiada lagi. Beliau juga rajin makan bersama dan bercerita kisah-kisahnya, kini sudah meninggalkan kami. 

Semoga Allah letakkan rohnya bersama-sama para ambiya dan solehin.

Beliau banyak mencetuskan pendekatan dan idea baru dalam UMNO seperti dalam Pemuda beliau hendak menjadi jambatan yang menghubungkan Pemuda kepada badan induk UMNO, Pemuda UMNO bukan kumpulan penekan tetapi 'kumpulan halia' yang pedas namun mengeluarkan angin serta menyegarkan. 

Beliau pernah mengingatkan Dr Mahathir semasa krisis Institute Teknologi Malaysia (ITM kini dikenali sebagai UITM) dan dialog bersamanya sebagai Menteri Pelajaran dalam response kepada apa yang Dr Mahathir katakan bahawa sebagai doktor, kalau ada pesakit yang dirawati dan perlu dibelah untuk memulihkan pesakit itu jika tidak mujarab hanya pesakit itu sahaja yang akan mati tetapi sebagai Menteri Pelajaran jika dasarnya tidak tepat keseluruhan generasi akan datang akan musnah. Begitu juga semasa beliau buat ucapan di Parlimen menentang Akta Universiti dan Maktab kerana mengikutnya negara akan keluarkan pelajar robot yang tidak boleh berfikir bebas. 

Satu perkara yang penting dalam sejarah negara adalah sejarah penyingkiran Singapura dari Malaysia. Albar dengan lantang tidak bersetuju kerana berpendapat itu bukan cara menyelesaikan masalah dan perkara yang begitu penting serta perlu untuk menjamin kewibawaan dan keutuhan negara. Pendapatnya ia perlu di bincang dan persetujui oleh parti bukan dibuat oleh seseorang atau sekumpulan kecil orang disekeliling Perdana Menteri. Bila Rang Undang-Undang memisahkan Singapura dari Malaysia di bentangkan di Parlimen beliau diminta Tun Dr Ismail supaya tidak masuk ke dalam Dewan untuk mengambil bahagian dalam perbahasan. Beliau patuh dan tidak masuk untuk berbahas dan juga mengundi. Begitulah kesetiaan beliau - tiada penghujung.

Pendek kata sumbangan amat banyak dan berharga pada negara tetapi ia tinggal sebagai kenangan. Pada hari ini tiada sebatang jalan pun yang mengambil sempena namanya walaupun pemimpin-pemimpin pembangkang lain termasuk nama-nama jalan yang mengambil nama jalan sempena nama mereka. Hanya di Kota Tinggi ada nama sebuah Sekolah Menengah di Sedili diberi nama beliau sebagai Ahli Parlimen di sana. 

Begitulah perjuangan. Inilah kenyataan.