On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Be cautious of meddling foreigners

Fischer was also quoted as saying that they discussed
possible  economic scenarios in the
future  for Indonesia.

He said a meeting with Indonesian President B.J. Habibie had  been scheduled.

The IMF meeting with the opposition leaders took place presumably because
Fischer is sure that  they will form the
next government.

His directive is simple: follow  the IMF
programmes adopted by  the Habibie

In most countries, this IMF  meeting with
politicians would  have been seen as a
case of interference in domestic politics.

It is humiliating for the ruling 
government, no matter how unpopular Golkar can be, because the  vote-counting process is still going  on.

But Indonesia has little choice. It  has
sought IMF help and whoever  forms the
government must now  take orders from

It is a new form of colonisation. 
Malaysian journalists who covered 
the recent Indonesian elections 
spoke of condescending Western 
analysts and non-government organisation leaders who lectured  Indonesians on how they should  run their country.

A colleague told of an NGO leader who, having arrived in Jakarta  barely 48 hours ago, gave his views  as an expert, running down the  country and the system.

The saddest part, he said, was  that this
so-called expert was  cheered by a group
of Indonesians  and given prominent
coverage by  the media.

A similar pattern seems to be appearing in Malaysia. Western  countries are demanding the promotion of
human rights and democracy, in their style, before economic development. They
argue  that these values can be transplanted

No Malaysian would argue that  human
rights and democracy are  antithetical to
the country's development. Those against gradual  changes to improve our institutions are as
bad as those who insist  on immediate

Human rights and democracy  are part and
parcel of Westminster  democracy. What
makes people  cynical is the hypocrisy
and inconsistency on the question of human 

Instead of a holistic approach,  human
rights are defined from a  narrow
perspective, focussing on  civil
liberties and political rights.

The West, especially the United  States,
continues to tighten its grip  on the
media, international economic institutions and arrangements with the United

The US, for example, portrays itself as a moral crusader of human  rights but allows certain authoritarian
governments in West Asia  and South
America to function because they serve its military and  oil interests.

In Algeria, a popular Islamic  party
voted by the people is rejected by the military which backed a  secular government.

In this case, the West closed its  eyes
but a similar situation in  Myanmar
became the subject of an  intense

In some West Asian countries,  elections
are a mockery  with the  monarchy reigning supreme  but  we
hardly hear any complaints  from US
groups simply because  they are client

It's the same with China, which  the US
has been particularly tough  on. Year in
and year out, the world  is reminded of
the Tiananmen  Square incident.

But the western media has never  even
once explained why the student protest failed and whether the  failure was due to the lukewarm  support from the grassroots nationwide.

Neither has the US media, supposedly good at analysing events  according to their own prejudiced  view, explained why the protest  was confined to Beijing.

Any visitor to China would realise that sweeping changes have  taken place in China over the past  two decades.

But it is still not enough for the  US.
Perhaps, it wants to see China  turned
into another Russia  a former superpower
which has become a democracy but reduced to 
an exporter of prostitutes.

Fact is, the US isn't exactly the 
protector of human rights it wants 
many to believe. The US has refused to sign, accede or ratify up  to 144 of the over-400 conventions,  treaties and other agreements under the

There are two important treaties  that
have been signed by the US  but yet to be
ratified, namely the  International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  and the Convention on the Rights  of the Child.

Why is the US dragging its feet?

By ratifying these treaties, signatory countries are required to  make the necessary changes to  their laws.

For example, the US has refused  to sign
the Convention of the Use,  Stockpiling,
Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and  On their Destruction  simply because it is one of the biggest
users  and producers of landmines.

It has not signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal  Court (ICC) which requires war  criminals to be handed over to a  tribunal.

Despite preaching lofty ideals,  the US
is prepared to bend rules,  even ignore
them, so long as it  suits its national

Contemporary history has shown  that the
US is ready to work with  dictators, if
they are prepared to  takes orders from

So, Malaysians should be wary of 
meddling foreigners.