“China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.” – Charles de Gaulle, former French president
The recent Malaysia-China trade deals have resulted in an exuberant display of identity politics, which does nothing but remind everyone of the deplorable state of Malaysian politics. If someone is looking for a clear analysis of these deals beyond the superficialities of identity politics, then one has to look elsewhere.
While Umno attempts to leverage the deals as some sort of olive branch to a community it routinely demonises, the opposition meanwhile either demonises China (indirectly but sometimes directly depending on who is raising the nationalistic flag) by:
1. Claiming that Malaysian (read Malay) sovereignty is threatened, or
2. That these deals are a bailout, the implication being that China has a hand around the ‘Malay’/Umno throat thereby gaining a powerful proxy in the Malaysian political landscape.
Many articles have been written about the ‘Chinese tsunami’ that PM Najib Razak is relying on to keep him in power and that this is further evidence of China’s designs on the region. Indeed, many people seem gleeful that the corrupt regime that has for so long demonised the Chinese community has to go begging to China for a handout.
Pro-Malay media seems to be suffering from some sort of amnesia with regards to their continuous condemnation of anything Chinese and instead contextualise the China visit as something good for the average Malay-sian, with news like this from Utusan Malaysia – “Lawatan rasmi Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak ke China pada awal bulan ini, membuahkan hasil yang bersejarah apabila pelaburan dan kerjasama perdagangan yang dimeterai antara syarikat-syarikat Malaysia dan China mencapai angka RM144 bilion.”
In addition, Najib did not forget the little guys: “Antara perkara yang saya bangkitkan dalam lawatan ke China baru-baru ini adalah berkaitan minyak sawit dan sarang burung. Semoga usaha kerajaan ini sedikit sebanyak dapat membantu meningkatkan hasil pendapatan pekebun kecil.”
Indeed, the narrative of Malays living on handouts has been festooned on these deals as a means of demonstrating the well-documented failings of Umno and their racial policies. Establishment personalities have been scrambling to project these deals as a recalibration of their “playing safe policy” and evidence that MalaysiaM is looking East for mutual gain.
Pro-opposition rhetoric consist of furthering the narrative that China is taking advantage of the natives and the country is being sold piece by piece to a foreign power to settle Najib’s debts. While my disdain for Najib administration is well documented (by me, mostly), making the argument that these China deals have no credibility merely because they come from the Najib regime is disingenuous.
Does China see an advantage in dealing with a potentate that has lost credibility in the West? Of course.
The meme however, that these deals were made merely to bail out Najib and serves no long-term purpose or that these deals were made mala fide ignores the reality that Malaysia has an ongoing and evolving relationship with China outside the 1MDB bubble…
Source : Malaysiakini