‘Elite Capture’ In ‘Very Corrupt Country, Malaysia’

The present PN Foreign Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, who is the cousin of Najib Razak, has responded after being taken to task by a predecessor (Anifah Aman) for claiming last week that there had been no recent incursions by China into Malaysian waters despite there having been 89 incidents between 2016 and 2019. Said Anifah:

I am appalled by the minister’s statement. He is either in denial or ignorant of the fact. Worst, he is playing politics with Malaysia’s maritime and strategic interests.
“It was only in April that a flotilla of Chinese enforcement vessels was sighted accompanying a Chinese survey vessel within Malaysia maritime areas.
“Further, I was reliably informed that Chinese coast guard vessels were sighted in the vicinity of Beting Patinggi Ali in May, June and July,” he said. [Malay Mail]

Hishamuddin countered this show of just patriotism by the Sabah MP by issuing a “clarification” of his remarks, claiming he had only been referring to a specific incident, namely the standoff in West Capella where a Chinese survey vessel, accompanied by Chinese Coast Guard and fishing militia, refused to leave Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from April to May.

However, this weekend Malaysian strategic analysts were positing a greater policy of subservience towards China on the part of Hishamuddin because, they suggested, the KL government is in a spot of economic bother owing to Covid 19.

Sarawak Report suggests that the reason is simpler still. Hishamuddin’s cousin is presently facing trial over massive corruption allegations which are all tied up with China. More specifically, billions of dollars in soft loans and kickbacks were arranged through contracts with Chinese state companies to help get the former prime minister off the hook over his thefts from 1MDB.

Right now, Najib’s collaborator in all this corruption remains a fugitive in China, who is keeping him well out of the way of the forces of law and order in Malaysia or any of the string of other countries in Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East who are seeking Jho Low to assist in their enquiries.

Hishamuddin was liaising with the PKR traitor Azmin Ali within a month of the May 2018 election, strategising on how to overturn that unfortunate result. Above all, it is clearly a priority for his own family and party to keep a lid on the affair.

It puts him and his government in China’s pocket.

‘Elite Capture’ in ‘Very Corrupt Countries’

It was doubtless with the 1MDB scenario in mind (but also several other examples of Chinese projects in Malaysia) that a prestigious speaker selected Malaysia as an example of what he described as a deliberate strategy of ‘Elite Capture’ by China as it seeks to extend its influence and create client countries around the world especially the super strategic South East Asia.

Speaking at a seminar on China organised by London’s Henry Jackson Society David Shulman a former US Deputy National Intelligence Officer for East Asia and Senior Advisor at the International Republican Institute, spelled out what he sees as China’s strategy to take control of countries like Malaysia.

It involves exploiting the willingness of political leaderships to be corrupt, for example Najib’s BN government, and thereby end their independence.

China’s drive for maximum advantage is really creating a situation where you have all these opaque deals and opportunities for corruption and really elite capture on the level where elites are essentially making decisions based on China’s interests and lining their own pockets rather than what’s best for their own country.

If China has put so much effort, so many eggs in one basket in terms of developing particular leaders, a particular party, particularly through a lot of these CCP party engagements that go on, they’ve learned over years to ensure that they can hedge their bets in case pesky things like elections get in the way and the friend of China loses power to ensure that it’s a much broader base of coercive power and a much broader base of capture that occurs.

And in the cases where we’ve seen countries where friends of China – very corrupt regimes in places like Ecuador, or Malaysia, or the Maldives – were voted out of power, the democratic process worked, you immediately see the Chinese Communist Party going to work in a very concerted effort to cultivate the next folks who come in, successfully or not, as well as cultivating the media more aggressively in those countries to try to prevent losses to their influence.

You have a Chinese party state-backed policy bank and a Chinese state-run enterprise in a room with a willing local official setting up deals that are really detrimental to these countries’ prosperity long-term but also really set up a deep and ingrained cycle of debt and dependence that can persist in these countries, that’s really the way in which you get in much of the developing world a really much deeper level of influence that potentially could last for decades even if you do have a change in power in a lot of these countries”

Shulman goes on to describe how he believes China works to subvert and neuter media and academia in such countries in order to counter push back or criticism of its actions. The whole debate can be listened to on the Henry Jackson Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/henryjacksonsociety/videos/859206937938275/?v=859206937938275.

Meanwhile, those who seek to divide Malaysians and target Malaysian born citizens of Chinese heritage should be mindful that it is in fact corruption within the leading elite that is being used to expand Chinese influence in the country, not the local democratic parties who wish to stand side by side with Malays and other groups to keep their independence and free society.

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