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WTimes: Despotism, not fundamentalism, greatest threat to Malaysia
By Chris Hobbs

24/8/2001 9:32 pm Fri

Washington Times:

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 beyond comprehension.



Tuesday August 21

A paper that's a total anathema to us

Elanjelian Venugopal

Washington, DC

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 Beltway.

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 imagination.

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.