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WTimes: Despotism, not fundamentalism, greatest threat to Malaysia
By Chris Hobbs
24/8/2001 9:32 pm Fri
Letter to the Editor
Despotism, not fundamentalism, greatest threat to Malaysia
The portrait of Malaysia's political situation, as presented
by Amy Ridenour in the Aug. 15 Op-Ed column "Turmoil in Malaysia"
was an uninformed misrepresentation of Malaysia's current
political environment, Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters.
Malaysia's convergence of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures
is hardly fertile soil for the development of the fundamentalist
Islamic state fabricated by Ms. Ridenour. It is not
fundamentalism that poses the greatest threat to Malaysia, but
the corrupt and heavy-handed consolidation of power that has
characterized Mahathir Mohammed's 20 years as prime minister. Mr.
Anwar and his supporters seek to end the cronyism and repression
of political opposition that is endemic to the "Malaysian
democracy," instilling in its place real democratic values and
leadership. In kindling fears of fundamentalism, Ms. Ridenour has
overlooked that Mr. Mahathir himself is the greatest threat to
democracy in Malaysia.
Ms. Ridenour further compares the Malaysian legal system and
that of the United States, dismissing the despotic abuses carried
out under Mr. Mahathir. She shrugs off more than 20 arrests since
April under the arcane Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows
for indefinite detention without trial a law unimaginable in the
United States. Mr. Mahathir has manipulated the constitution,
destroying judiciary checks on his own power and discrediting the
Malaysian legal system.
If anyone has been fooled it is Ms. Ridenour. The claims of
Malaysia's resemblance to Afghanistan or Iran are inflammatory,
and comparisons to the British and American judicial systems are
A paper that's a total anathema to us
5:25pm, Tue: When I was working for the United Nation Association-USA as a communications
intern, I was forced to read The Washington Times (and few other newspapers) thrice weekly, to
scan its pages for any report or analysis on the United Nations. A worst newspaper I have not read.
The Washington Times (not to be mistaken with Washington Post) cater for the extreme right-wing
Americans, often featuring views that are outright racist. If you are familiar with the New York Post
(again not be confused with the New York Times), then The Washington Times is its sibling in the
They aren't, by the way, the standard bearers of American conservatism, either. There are other
newspapers, like National Review and Wall Street Journal, which, though conservative, are at least
respectable. The Washington Times does not qualify to be in that league, by any stretch of
Hence, I was very much surprised reading a letter that appeared yesterday in your pages ('US should
not be fooled into backing Anwar', Aug 20). It is rather bizarre that the writer should think so highly
of the report authored by someone who belongs to one conservative think tank. (Their website by
the way, describes them as, "a conservative/free market foundation"; they aren't non-partisan, as
reported by Bernama.)
Our Malaysian leaders often condemn the West, its domineering manner, and its supposed know-all
attitude. If there is one newspaper that should be a total anathema to everything we, Malaysians,
stand for, then that has to be The Washington Times. I have never, ever come across even a single
article in its pages that has said anything good about Islam, or Arabs in particular.
All writings on Islam always has that 'green peril' connotation. And, yet, now we see Malaysia, in all
countries, embracing these cooks. I know not any other situation that defines irony better.