We shouldn't get too uptight about the hearing. The American public, particularly the average Joe Sixpack, would be more interested in
football and game shows.
The hearing was poorly attended, with only three of the 21 panel members present, reflecting lack of interest and seriousness.
Assistant Secretary of State for East
Asia and Pacific Affairs Stanley Roth, who was scheduled to speak on behalf of the Clinton
Administration, did not turn up.
Three witnesses, purported experts, gave their views. They were Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Ralph
Boyce, Asia-Pacific Policy Center
president Douglas Paal, and Dr Linda
Lim, a Singaporean teaching at the University
of Michigan Business School.
For a country advocating justice and
human rights, it certainly has a strange
way of conducting a hearing. No
Malaysians were present; many of us would want to know if its because no Malaysian was keen to participate or otherwise.
Dr Lim was asked to give her views,
presumably to touch on Malaysia's strained relations with Singapore.
But that did not stop her from giving
her views on the economic situation in
Malaysia, particularly the capital
It would have made a difference if those
affected the most Malaysian businessmen who
have to plan their budgets were asked to
To the average Malaysian who has to
service his housing loan, the move to
impose high interest rates was like a
rope around his neck.
The United States should have less faith
in an expert who has probably never
carried out a business transaction in her life.
This reminds us of the habit of the
foreign media in seeking the views of
so-called experts on Malaysian politics who are based in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Surely, the views of Malaysians carry
more weight than these foreigners who are thousands of miles away, relying merely on news reports, the
Internet and comment from their circle
The foreign media is also fond of
quoting anonymous Western diplomats based in Kuala Lumpur when filing stories from Malaysia. Do Western diplomats know better?
Hardly is there any report quoting Asian diplomats, even when many fo them can speak the local languages and even pass off as
Interestingly, Paal admitted that his
centre had colloborated with Datuk Seri
Anwar Ibrahim and had received donations
from Anwar and his associates.
At that hearing, Paal reportedly
recommended to the members of the
US Congress to maintain a cool
relationship with the Malaysian
Delivering his presidential address at the Umno general assembly on Friday, Dr
Mahathir was understandably upset at the hearing, describing it as a “kangaroo court.''
But we shouldn't give too much credence
to such hearings. It doesn't do Malaysia
much good when we sometimes seem over
sensitive to visits by foreign opposition figures.
In the case of the US, despite its talk
of championing justice and fair-play, it
has a record of refusing to sign, accede and ratify a long list of treaties under the United
For example, the US is still indifferent to the International Convention on the
Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, adopted by the UN General Assembly in
Records show that it is still vague on
the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted by the UN in 1979.
It is the same with the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports,
adopted by the UN in 1985.
Malaysia is just a dot on the map to the
American public. Not too many Americans
are overly-excited by events here.
At the end of the day, the fate of the
country is decided by Malaysians – not foreigners.