On the 20th of August 2018, Mahathir warned the Chinese against “a new version of colonialism” in what the Financial Times opined was “a pointed expression of Asian unease about China’s increasing economic and political influence in the region.”
However, Chinese premier Li Keqiang was not at all pleased with Mahathir’s “colonialism” slur and made it clear that terms associated with the ECRL and gas pipeline projects were not up for review.
A well-placed source informed The Third Force that Mahathir went on to seek a whopping US40 billion loan from Chinese president Xi Jinping on grounds that Malaysia would face trouble paying compensations should the Chinese-backed projects be cancelled.
Xi, however, was quick to point out that the idea of using money borrowed from China to pay China made no logical or ethical sense whatsoever and reminded Mahathir that the latter’s administration had repeatedly questioned China’s business ethics.
He then gave a firm “no” to the Malaysian premier’s request for a long-term loan and offered instead time for Malaysia to decide on the status of the projects.
THE THIRD FORCE
On the 29th of May 2014, former Malaysian premier Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak was accorded a grand welcome befitting a state leader at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Then premier, Najib, who led a 15-member delegation to the People’s Republic of China, was accompanied by Chinese premier Li Keqiang when inspecting a guard-of-honour mounted by officers and men from the country’s three military services. A 19-gun salute followed the inspection ceremony before the national anthems of both countries were played. When Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived at the gates of the hall on Monday, nothing of that sort ever happened to him.
But that is as far as the similarities go. Not only was the guard of honour that greeted Mahathir far less elaborate than the one Najib inspected, the welcoming ceremony that received him was held indoors without the accompanying volleys of a 19-gun salute. A check by our team revealed that the weather at the western edge of Tiananmen Square was a fine 32 degrees, sunny and perfect for rolling out the red carpet outdoors. No matter how we looked at it, there seemed absolutely no reason for the Chinese not to accord Mahathir the same class of honour Najib received back in 2014, and again, in November 2016.
So what happened?
Why did the Chinese slash the budget on Mahathir’s visit despite him being the leader of a nation nestled within waterways pivotal to China’s trade proliferation? Could it be that Chinese president Xi Jinping regarded him an obstruction to China’s quest for dominance over the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea? Or has it got to do with the slew of slanderous attacks Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan coalition he leads waged against the northern republic ever since Najib first announced plans by Proton Holdings Berhad to partner with Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings to penetrate the China market?
And that is how it is with Mahathir.
Ever since returning as Prime Minister, he has consistently been accusing the Chinese government of engaging in shoddy business deals with Najib without once adducing the evidence to show for it. Then, when he gets what he wants, he will grin from ear to ear in front of cameras hoping that everyone will forget the things he said. However, should he not get what he wants, he will pin the blame squarely on Najib by accusing the former premier of entering botched agreements that he recently insisted were without “exit clauses” – whatever that means.
On the 15th of August 2018, the Prime Minister’s media and communications advisor, A Kadir Jasin, wrote that “the hidden hands of Najib and his 1MDB collaborator, Low Taek Jho aka Jho Low, is suspected” in deals undertaken by the former premier’s administration with the Chinese government. Kadir was alluding to the soft loans the Export Import (EXIM) Bank of China agreed to provide for the construction of the East Coast Railway Line (ECRL) and the Suria Strategic Energy Resources (SSER) pipeline projects.
China did not take lightly to these accusations.
On the 23rd of July 2018, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned Daim Zainuddin “never to cross the diplomatic line” after having accused Malaysia of intimidating China. Wang was bitter and aghast that Daim had the cheek to meet him moments after the MACC conducted two raids on a Chinese state-owned firm hinged solely on money laundering claims made by the DAP. The Council of Eminent Persons’ (CEP) elder was in China to renegotiate infrastructure and energy related agreements that the Najib administration had undertaken to sign with China and Chinese-state entities.
The minute the CEP elder left, Wang triggered a temporary ban on the signing of new deals with Malaysia and convinced Li to cut down drastically on China’s purchase of Malaysian palm oil. The move is set to impact close to a million Felda settlers who, prior to the 14th general election (GE14), were told by Mahathir to reject Najib so that “Pakatan could fix all of Felda’s problems.” China has already undertaken to ban the import of durian and bird nests from Malaysia, a move that already is affecting over a hundred thousand planters, farmers, traders and land owners who’re involved in these businesses.
But the attacks never stopped.
On the 20th of August 2018, Mahathir warned the Chinese against “a new version of colonialism” in what the Financial Times opined was “a pointed expression of Asian unease about China’s increasing economic and political influence in the region.” But the Prime Minister’s caution was scripted not by him but by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) even before the 14th general election (GE14) concluded. In a quid pro quo, Mahathir agreed to oppose attempts by the Chinese to forge maritime security cooperation with Malaysia (READ HERE OR FOLLOW LINK BELOW TO FIND OUT WHY) in return for the NDI’s support for his premiership quest.
But Mahathir didn’t plan to keep his end of the bargain in its entirety. He harboured hopes of using the ECRL and gas pipeline projects as bargaining chips to commit China into a working relationship with the Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary owned Melati Pertiwi Sdn Bhd. The plan was to entice the Chinese into deep-sea drilling partnerships with Melati in return for their willingness to call off the gas pipeline projects and to renegotiate the ECRL agreement. However, Li was not at all pleased with Mahathir’s “colonialism” slur and made it clear that terms associated with the ECRL and gas pipeline projects were not up for review.
And that’s not all.
A well-placed source informed The Third Force that Mahathir sought a whopping US40 billion loan from Chinese president Xi Jinping on grounds that Malaysia would face trouble paying compensations should the Chinese-backed projects be cancelled. Mahathir reasoned that the Malaysian economy was fast losing revenue and would run into problems by mid next year. Xi was quick to point out that the idea of using money borrowed from China to pay China made no logical or ethical sense whatsoever and reminded Mahathir that the latter’s administration had repeatedly questioned China’s business ethics. He then gave a firm “no” to the Malaysian premier’s request for a long-term loan and offered time instead for Malaysia to decide on the status of the projects.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, should give you an idea of how stupid Mahathir is and how pissed the Chinese are with his administration. Now that relations between our two nations have gone to pot, Mahathir does not feel he has anything more to lose should he continue to accuse Najib of conspiring with the Chinese. The IRI and NDI, on the other hand, are pleased that their mission to turn China against Malaysia succeeded even though they are aware that Mahathir harbours secret ambitions to engage with the Chinese in drilling within the western edge of the South China Sea.
To be continued…