The Asian Voice

China is a friend, not adversary: Sin Chew Daily

Mr Huang Huikang (in red batik shirt) during his visit to Petaling Street on Sept 25, 2015.
Mr Huang Huikang (in red batik shirt) during his visit to Petaling Street on Sept 25, 2015.PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

There are no parts in Ambassador Huang Huikang's speech that can be construed as interference in the country's internal affairs. 

Sin Chew Daily/ Asia News Network 

Last year, Malaysia and China celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between our two countries. 

But unfortunately, the cordial relationship might now suffer a minor hiccup owing to a diplomatic incident arising from recent remarks by Ambassador Huang Huikang.

Wisma Putra has wanted Huang to offer an explanation on what he said during a recent visit to Petaling Street.
According to media reports, the foreign ministry views Huang's remarks very seriously, and is of the opinion what he said about terrorism and interest of Chinese nationals as having interfered in Malaysia's domestic affairs.

Having read the full transcript of Ambassador Huang's speech, I find no parts in the speech that could be construed as he having interfered into the country's internal affairs.

Huang's remarks on terrorism and interest of Chinese nationals was meant to explain the stand of the Chinese government. The following is the excerpt from his speech:

"The Chinese government has always been practicing the five fundamental principles on peaceful coexistence when dealing with international relationships, and will never interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

"However, we will not disregard acts that might violate the national interest of China or the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens and companies as well as illegal activities that might jeopardize the friendly relationship between China and the host countries.

"The Chinese government is strongly against all forms of terrorism and acts of racism or extremism against specific ethnic communities. We are also opposed to serious violence that will imperil public order and social harmony."

The Ambassador did not mention Chinese Malaysians in his speech, nor did he talk about the rally at Petaling Street. He highlighted the importance of the rule of law spirit and his opposition to any form of terrorism, racism and extremism in protecting the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens and companies abroad.

As the Ambassador has said himself, his visit to Petaling Street was supposed to be an act of goodwill but perhaps due to the bad timing, the incident has since sparked some skepticism among certain quarters in this country. Even then, this is not reason enough to summon the Ambassador, a diplomatic move which is totally unnecessary and rash.

In diplomatic terms, summoning a foreign envoy implies objection and protest. Given the cordial bilateral relationship between Malaysia and China, there should have been other better ways of dispelling any misunderstanding instead of blatantly demonstrating our power as a sovereign state, for such reckless act will invariably hurt the feelings of the people of a friendly nation.

There are several points yet to be clarified by the government over the summoning of the Chinese Ambassador.
First and foremost, upon which part of the Ambassador's speech did the foreign ministry conclude that Huang interfered in the country's internal affairs?

The local newspapers have accurately reported the speech delivered by the Ambassador at Petaling Street, but unfortunately social media users and some irresponsible politicians have distorted his speech into one that lends moral support to Chinese Malaysians in antagonizing the Malaysian authorities. 

Since the government has time and again advised the public not to blindly believe in news circulated on the Internet, why didn't it seek verification first before jumping into such a drastic action?

MCA ministers have already expressed their shock over Wisma Putra's move, as they feel that the Ambassador's speech offers no hint of interference in Malaysia's internal affairs. 

And since we have cabinet ministers well versed in the Chinese language, why didn't the foreign ministry consult their views in the first place?

PM Najib and foreign minister Anifah Aman are currently on a working visit in the United States, but did they know that the foreign ministry had the intention of summoning the Chinese Ambassador? If not, is it the right protocol to notify the PM only after a decision has been made?

Interestingly, Umno Youth exco member Armand Azhar Abu Hanifah on Saturday also issued a statement hitting out at Ambassador Huang for interfering in the country's internal affairs.

We need to stress a point that the foreign ministry should act in the best interest of the country. Perhaps we should protest to Indonesia over the haze from forest clearing in that country as this has compromised the health of Malaysians. Is summoning the Chinese Ambassador more urgent than that?

Another question: Deputy foreign minister Reezal Merican was spotted in the street during the September 16 Rakyat Bersatu rally. And since he was personally involved in the rally, he should not be the one to handle the Ambassador's visit to Petaling Street.

Against the backdrop of a sharply declining ringgit and battered economy, perhaps the government should focus more of its attention on restoring the country's economy, including improving its diplomatic relations with other friendly nations such as China.

We have valid reasons to fear that excessive politicking and racist emotions will further aggravate the country's economic gloom. We indeed need more friends than adversaries during such a critical period of time.