Malaysia - Part 3

Posted by M ws On Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6 comments
The following is Part III of Tunku Abdul Rahman's article on  Malaysia: Key Area in Southeast Asia (Part 1) by Tunku Abdul Rahman which was written in 1965. Part I was posted at this link a few hours ago. Part II was posted here.

Malaysia: Key Area in Southeast Asia (Part III) by Tunku Abdul Rahman


However, Malaysia is not an introspective country. We have opened our doors and windows wide to observe and share in the affairs of the world. In fact, Malaysia was one of the first states in Southeast Asia to do so. Having experienced the menace of international Communism and overcome it, we are particularly sensitive to its threats elsewhere and have never hesitated to take a positive stand when necessary.

Malaya was among the first to condemn Communist China's blatant invasion of Tibet and the subjugation of that ill-fated nation. Again, when the Communist Chinese pressed on further and treacherously attacked their sympathetic neighbor, India, I was the first to condemn their aggression unreservedly, as I happened to arrive in Calcutta the day it began; and during my tour of India in that month of October 1962, I exposed the Chinese motives behind aggression. On my return to Singapore in November, I stated that in the event of a declaration of war between India and China, Malaya would give India "all-out support." Soon afterwards I launched a public campaign, the "Save Democracy Fund," which raised more than one million dollars to help India defend herself against Chinese aggression.

Malaysia has been a member of the United Nations since 1957, and in all that time a major plank of her foreign policy platform has been, and is still, unwavering support for the world body. We place great value on the spirit of the Charter and understand that acceptance of it entails both duties and responsibilities. Our armed forces were among the first to reach the Congo, and their conduct there won high praise for the United Nations as well as the lasting friendship of the people of the area.

Malaysia has also made constructive efforts in regional cooperation. Although we did not participate in the Bandung Conference, as we were not then independent, we have expressed the spirit of Bandung in the conduct of our foreign policy. We are very conscious of brotherhood with the Afro- Asian nations. We feel at one with them in campaigning against colonialism, apartheid, disease, hunger and human misery. As far as apartheid is concerned, I have actively condemned this evil violation of human rights. Like our brothers in Afro-Asia we have always stressed the imperative need for a world where laws prevail against racial or religious discrimination. We also championed Algeria's right to freedom. We expressed our belief that Southern Rhodesia should be independent only when African peoples have the unrestricted right to vote and we have deplored Portuguese colonialism in both Africa and Asia.

Our special interest in economic progress and development of the region of Southeast Asia is particularly illustrated by the founding of the Association of Southeast Asia (A.S.A.) which I first projected in Manila in 1960. The founder members-the Philippines, Thailand and Malaya-established A.S.A. in 1961 to promote economic, social and cultural coöperation. Indonesia was invited also but rejected A.S.A. as being a tool of American imperialism, ignoring the fact that all the work, effort, ideas and goals of A.S.A. had sprung entirely from the energies and beliefs of the three countries concerned. In declining to join, Indonesia broke the solemn undertaking given at the Bandung Conference to create an organization for intraregional economic coöperation. Nevertheless, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaya went right ahead, meeting in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur and Manila in 1961, 1962 and 1963, laying the groundwork for A.S.A. However, with the unfortunate decision of the Philippines to defer recognition of Malaysia after its formation in 1963, A.S.A. suffered a temporary setback. We nevertheless have strong hopes that A.S.A. will be revived, as its secretariats still survive. Our faith in A.S.A. reflects our belief that we can come to terms with the Philippines, which we have always regarded as a country that has done much for the cause of democracy in this part of the world. I feel that the present impasse between the Philippines and Malaysia can be resolved. Although we have no formal diplomatic relations at present, it is our objective to hasten the day when the friendly ties we still feel for one another can be resumed and enhanced.

Malaysia is a practical working democracy, and as such its very existence and success are a positive challenge to any further progress by Communism in Southeast Asia. The Communists consider us an obstacle to be reckoned with in their grand design to subject all Asia to their influence. Obviously Malaysia from their point of view has to be "crushed." The Communists were quick to seize the opportunity to implement this "crushing" vicariously through Indonesia, a country with which we had always felt close fraternity and whose own bid for independence earned our sympathy and support.

Unfortunately, neither President Sukarno nor the Indonesian Army, the only two forces capable of asserting themselves against the Communists, did anything effective to check the rapid expansion of Communism in Indonesia. In fact, President Sukarno seems to have encouraged the dramatic growth of Communism there, and this has been augmented by the widespread starvation, corruption and administrative incompetence, combining to create a mood of cynicism and despair. Meanwhile, the Communists champion causes which they can represent to the people as nationalist and revolutionary. Each day brings evidence of their further entrenchment, as their leaders assume leading positions and their policies are allowed free expression. We cannot ignore the fact that the Indonesian Communist Party is the third largest in the world and closely collaborates with Peking. We in Malaysia have been made well aware by actual aggression, infiltration, subversion and sabotage of the Communist determination to bring about the extinction of our country. However, with the help of our allies and the sympathy and support of nations which deplore aggression and espouse peace, we are confident of our ability to contain this threat to our existence which emanates from Indonesia.

We look northward in Asia with equal anxiety. We see the unscrupulous advantage the Communists have taken of small and weak states, most of whom have shaken off the burden of colonialism only to fall under the spell of Communism. Viet Nam, in particular, has caused us great concern, as we have watched the familiar Communist pattern being re-enacted by the Hanoi Government, using the usual methods of infiltration, subversion and open aggression against South Viet Nam, making a mockery of the Geneva Agreement of 1954. I recall that the very first foreign country I visited after becoming Prime Minister of newly independent Malaya was South Viet Nam in January 1958. I declared then that the Communist aggression taking place both in Malaya and in South Viet Nam was rightly the concern of the whole free world, and that our two countries were fighting in the front line of the battle for freedom. In 1960, I did what I could to help South Viet Nam in its struggle against Communism. All the guns and ammunition and vehicles which had become surplus to us as the result of the ending of our own emergency I had shipped to Saigon. We started our own aid program, quietly and without publicity, to train some thousands of Vietnamese in either jungle warfare or police administration; and we are continuing to do so today.

The long history of aggressive action by North Viet Nam and its intensifications of hostilities in recent months more than justify the firm stand taken by the United States. We in Malaysia fully support Washington's actions. Past experience has clearly shown that the Communists will back down whenever they are faced with determined and definite opposition. Cuba, the Berlin Blockade and the incidents in the Tongkin Gulf, each of which Malaysia completely supported at the time, are testimony to this. We cannot, however, ignore the fear felt by many nations that the war in Viet Nam may escalate into such proportions that an ultimate peaceful solution becomes impossible. We therefore welcome President Johnson's statement that the United States is ready to negotiate without any precondition. His proposal for a massive aid program to Southeast Asia clearly shows that the United States is seeking neither political nor military conquest, but desires only an honorable settlement of the Vietnamese problem.

From our own experience it is our belief, however, that the final answer in Viet Nam does not lie in either arms or economic aid but in the hearts and minds of the people. The present state of affairs in South Viet Nam is due to a lack of ideological response to an ideological challenge. Political instability in Saigon has drawn attention away from the basic principles of freedom for which South Viet Nam has been fighting. The Republic of Viet Nam must be given time to reconsolidate itself on these principles and its people must have an opportunity to understand that democracy is worth fighting and dying for. In the long run, the present military involvement by the United States can only be temporary; but it will provide that essential time. In our view it is imperative that the United States does not retire from the scene; such action would create an ideological vacuum which only the Communists would exploit.

To me the United States does not represent merely a power as such, even though she is undoubtedly the most powerful nation in the world. Rather the United States represents the living ideal of democracy. I remember that Madame Pandit, who was then President of the U.N. General Assembly, said during a visit to Singapore that what the free world most needed were thousands and thousands of people willing to preach and practice democracy with fervor and faith and when necessary to fight for it. In other words, democracy must be an ideology. It is worth noting that the Communist states never represent themselves so much as powers but as proponents of an ideology, although it is true that the current dispute between the Soviet Union and China has done much to dispel this image.

The whole history of our years of independence, leading into the creation of Malaysia, is living evidence that democracy can succeed in molding an Asian nation along lines of economic achievement and stability. It is true that we have been forced to ensure our security against Indonesia's present hostility by an alliance with such friendly nations as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. That alliance is made of our own choice. All free nations have the sovereign right to choose their friends and to enter into any agreement which they feel may be necessary for their security. Further, our defense agreement with the United Kingdom which dates back to 1957 has enabled us to make far more rapid progress in every field of development because we have not had to spend vast sums on our armed forces. Communist-inspired propaganda from Indonesia cries out hysterically that our defense agreement represents neo-colonialism. Any nation which has suffered the threat of aggression knows that protection is a matter of necessity and that immediate help is welcome from whichever quarter it comes. We in Malaysia have always had faith in our friends; and now that our need is critical they have rallied to our side as true friends should. In spite of Indonesia's endeavors to obscure the truth with a screen of groundless accusations, Afro-Asia has come to understand that we in Malaysia have no choice but to turn to the friends we trust to help us when we are being not only threatened but actually invaded by a neighbor nation possessing armed forces 20 times the size of ours. To ask us to give up the British bases is tantamount to asking us to disarm in the face of a strong enemy buildup. It would be sheer folly for us to give up the bases. To do so would be to commit suicide. Needless to say, we shall welcome defense assistance from African, Asian or other countries.

It is with some satisfaction that we can say that except for one minor attack, every Indonesian assault against us has been defeated. We have seen to it that the complete record of Indonesian incursions is in the hands of the Security Council. The whole world knows that Indonesia is guilty of aggression and that Malayasia has not fired one bullet outside its borders.

Malaysia is in a unique position in many ways, belonging as it does to the brotherhood of Afro-Asian nations as well as being a member of the Commonwealth. As a mainly Muslim country we have intimate links and understanding with the Arab world. We are friends with all nations in Asia, Indonesia and the Communist countries excepted. Last but not least, we have proven that the principles of democracy have valid application to the problems that face developing countries. We cannot and do not aspire to rely on the might of arms to promote our future hopes, preferring to live in peace and friendship with all, especially our neighbors. We have not received or requested any part of the vast quantities of aid which the United States has so freely and generously given to most of the free world. We have always preferred to pay our own way, and we continue to do so. We believe that by making a success of our own democracy, relying on our own efforts, combined with the advantages of our strategic position and economic importance, we are able to exercise influence, even as a small nation, that is far-reaching and effective.

China's emergence as a powerful military force, expressing the most militant form of Communism, has made the problem of survival for all the countries of Southeast Asia extremely acute. So far, pro-Peking forces are militarily active only in Viet Nam, Laos and Indonesia; but knowing the nature of Communism, we can expect further aggression to take place. In this situation we have no time for philosophical resignation, nor do we have any respect for attitudes of despair shown by some countries that it is only a matter of time before this region of Southeast Asia becomes enveloped in the embrace of Red China. Our role, we feel, is not only to dispel unwarranted pessimism but to reaffirm by our own example and policy that democracy is a better answer to the social and economic problems of this vital region than Communism can ever be.

In Russia, the most advanced nation in the Communist world, economic well- being has provoked a search for the liberties which had been lost because the leaders believed them to be incompatible with rapid development. Why should Asian nations allow themselves to be attracted to the alluring prospects of economic advancement claimed by Communists when it means the unnecessary surrender of their liberties? Asian nations can see for themselves the remarkable resurgence of Japan through the spirit of free enterprise and democracy. Even a small country like ours has been able, under the aegis of democracy, to achieve success without the sacrifices which Communism demands. By comparison, North Viet Nam and North Korea expose the myth of supposing that Communism is a guaranteed solution to the problems presented by economic immaturity.

The achievement of Asian unity is a challenge. If affairs continue to deteriorate as at present we face the specter of another world war. Europe has been the source of past world wars; I hope Asia will never have this hateful privilege. Obviously all the Asian countries cannot come together now, but those which are sincere Asians at heart can respond to proper leadership when it appears. I feel that such leadership may well be provided by Japan.

We in Malaysia see our role as one of contributing to the stability of Southeast Asia through social and economic progress, by carrying out a policy of good will and coöperation and by firmly adhering to the free world and strongly supporting the United Nations. We shall continue doing everything we can to promote the cause of democracy and the achievement of peace.

6 comments to Malaysia - Part 3

  1. says:

    eugene Southeast Asian countries will not engage themselves to war, I think simply because we have this,"Asian" sentiment in us,like brother and sister............For those Mat Salleh some of them they know or predict that Asia will be stronger than the rest of the world,thus some even moved their business and families,,,Jim Rogers for an example.................

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear Eugene

    Thank you for reading this long article and for sharing your positive views. I do agree with you. Education has somewhat changed our views so that most are peace-loving citizens in the region. Take care and do keep in touch! Have a blessed day!


  1. says:

    Chester Khuan Quote "Further, our defense agreement with the United Kingdom which dates back to 1957 has enabled us to make far more rapid progress in every field of development because we have not had to spend vast sums on our armed forces."

    Maybe Najib should take heed of this and stop buying military toys. At present we don't need to form alliance with anyone cause our neighbours will not attack us without cause. Besides we should have enough weaponry to repel any attack.

  1. says:

    aitze "Soon afterwards I launched a public campaign, the "Save Democracy Fund," which raised more than one million dollars to help India defend herself against Chinese aggression." - Tunku

    So, that was what it was called, the "Save Democracy Fund". I was 8 years old at the time and yet I can still remember how weird it was for my family to donate to a cause that would help to defeat our kin. What a dilemma it must have been.

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear Chester

    I am deeply encouraged that Malaysia has citizens like you who can think so deeply about what they read, see and anticipate. I truly hope there will arise more like you who will analyze, question and vocalize their thoughts and concerns to bring about a more vibrant, dynamic and better Malaysia.

    Take care and God bless you! Please keep in touch!


  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear aitze

    Wow! It is amazing that the incident made such an impact on you that you can still recall it today! Do share more about your experiences when you are free.

    Indeed, the early formative years must have posed various types of dilemma for our previous leaders. Yet, they rose to the occasion and excelled in their call to duty. What a difference from what we see today!

    Take care and do keep in touch.


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