Commentary Politics

On equal ground in face of external threats

NorthKoreaVsMalaysia

Shahrum Sayuthi
Written by Shahrum Sayuthi

March 9 2017

IT is hard not to be disheartened by comments of some Malaysians who were unable to separate their political inclinations from realities of the country’s ongoing dispute with North Korea.

The comments, many of which were actually nonsensical, suggest that quite a number of Malaysians are still very much politically immature and in need of a heavy dosage of common sense and decency.

Despite claiming to be on the right side of the political divide for the country’s sake, they failed to realise that when it comes to an issue such as the North Korea-Malaysia crisis, they have to stand by the government which they themselves had elected.

It is after all their government whether they voted for or against it.

To do otherwise is tantamount to siding with the belligerent foreign power and going against Malaysia itself.

Those who are anti-establishment must realise that supporting the government when the country is facing an external threat such as now does not mean they must also give up their domestic political beliefs.

They should not worry that by doing so that they would be regarded as giving up their right to oppose the government in other matters.

Malaysia is after all still a democratic country where dissent is permitted within the law.

Opposing the government should not mean doing it at every turn.

The opposition leaders know this and that is why DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng openly expressed support for the government’s actions against North Korea at a press conference in Parliament on Tuesday.

Other opposition leaders should follow in Lim’s footsteps and encourage their supporters to forget, at least in relation to this issue, whatever grouses they have against the government.

They have to acknowledge that the government, representing a friendly Malaysia, had done all the right things from the start as far as North Korea is concerned.

Despite the country being labeled as a rouge state by many, Malaysia had established ties with it as far back as 1973.

Malaysia even became the middleman for talks between North Korea and its bitter enemy, the United States in 1995 and as relations further improved allowed citizens of that country to come here without visas in 2000, which the North Koreans reciprocated nine years later.

All was well until the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2)  on Feb 13, which sparked the current crisis.

Despite the negative comments by some Malaysians, the government’s handling of the case has actually won applause from around the world from the very start.

Commentators and diplomatic experts interviewed by international media expressed admiration at how quick and firm Malaysia has been in insisting its sovereign rights to do the necessary despite pressure from North Korea.

Malaysians who argued that the government should just simply hand over Jong Nam’s remains to North Korea as demanded to avoid the crisis should realise that it would have sent out the wrong message that Malaysia is weak and can be bullied.

It would also serves as a notice that it is okay for foreign powers to have their agents committing heinous crime such as murder in this country.

No government of any self-respecting nation would allow that or could afford to back down under such circumstances.

Malaysians should be proud that their government stood its ground in this stand-off with North Korea, irrespective of their political beliefs.

Partisan politics simply have no place when facing external threats.

The same message goes to some pro-establishment pundits, who while appearing to be calling those from across the political divide to unite behind the government, tried to score brownie points for themselves by politicising the crisis.

It would not do any good to the effort of uniting all Malaysians in face of the crisis when there are those claiming the moral high ground of supporting the government and using the issue as a tool to run down their opposition rivals.

All sides should learn that the right to support the government in time of crisis or peace is actually equal for pro and anti establishment citizens in a country that proudly claims itself to be a democracy.

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Shahrum Sayuthi

Shahrum Sayuthi