Clean up your own mess first

This is written by celebrated journalist and activist Shamsul Akmar.

While this is his personal opinion, many in the oil palm and tropical timber industry share the same view. This is important to Malaysia's economy especially when the government is currently negotiating free trade agreements with Europe and the US.

IN September 2005, Bruce Cleghorn, then British High Commissioner and a few other Western diplomats committed an undiplomatic act, walking out of a conference hall in protest against what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said in his speech.

Dr Mahathir's remarks that Cleghorn and his cohorts took offence to, leading them to behave like rednecks, were in essence saying that the military action on Iraq by the United States-British led coalition of the willing was that of terrorists.

In short, Dr Mahathir, known for calling a spade a spade, stated the obvious -- the US-British invasion of Iraq was an act of state terrorism.

This column is not planning to discuss whether Dr Mahathir's remarks were justified or to further condemn Cleghorn's uncouth behaviour. It is to discuss the uncouth, condescending and arrogant behaviour of some Western leaders and self-appointed crusaders when dealing with the East. Of course, the East is not bereft of such individuals but their behaviour stems from bad and deprived upbringing.

The same cannot be said of the Western leaders and crusaders given the fact that they hold high and powerful positions, meaning they would have been well brought up. That being the case, it can only be concluded that their uncouth nature when dealing with the people from the East stems from their sense of superiority, topped with a condescending attitude towards a people that at one point in history was colonised and considered less human.

Hence, the presence of the likes of Cleghorn, former US ambassador to Malaysia John Malott, former US vice-president Al Gore and Clare Rewcastle Brown, who is the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown.

If Cleghorn got upset when it was pointed out that Britain and the US were and still are involved in terrorising Iraq, the others took the moral high ground to judge and condemn Malaysian leaders for not behaving the way they had scripted.

While the issue of Malott and Gore had been extensively discussed, the latest addition is Clare, a former BBC journalist now on a self-appointed crusade "to protect the well-being of Sarawak", a former British colony.

Brown, the failed prime minister of Britain, threw in his support for Clare, by alleging the Sarawak government of excessive logging and  oil palm planting, to the extent that only five per cent of the primary forest in the state is left. These accusations of deforestation of such magnitude had been denied and explained by the Sarawak authorities who threw a challenge to the Browns to "come and look for yourself".

While there would be as many supporters and detractors of the accusations against Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and the Sarawak Barisan Nasional, what is more incredulous is the ease in which the likes of Clare and Brown can raise a stink about a far-off country when the stench emanating from their own backyard stench is more putrid by comparison. It is not a case of two wrongs making one right.

Here is a situation where there is still a debate as to the accusations of wrongdoings in Sarawak while the bigger crime in Britain, which has been proven, is ignored by crusaders like Clare and Brown.

If they were so concerned about the environment, surely Clare being the "investigative" journalist that she claim she is, would have been able to highlight the depleted uranium in Iraq that is causing unthinkable horrors.

Surely Clare would be embarrassed to have the support of a brother-in-law who was a senior member of the Tony Blair administration that lied to the British people and dragged the nation into joining the Iraq invasion. How are Malaysians to believe what Brown had said and by extension, Clare's cause, when he is known to be a partner to Blair in war crimes?

Indeed, some may argue that it is not who said it that should be the debate but rather what is said. But if the one who said it is known to have supported and spread lies that led to the deaths of thousands, surely what has been said needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Taib will face the people of Sarawak if he is guilty of what he is accused of. But to have the likes of Clare and Brown parlance on the moral high horse and judge him or BN is indeed nauseating.

Clare may or may not be a liar but Brown, someone proven to be prepared to support a liar, supports her. Brown had helped Blair make a mess of Iraq. Should anyone not be suspicious that he may be supporting Clare to mess up Sarawak?

What the Browns need to do to gain some credibility is to clean up their own mess and expose the war crimes of the Blair administration that led to the murders of the thousands of innocents in Iraq as well as the environmental disaster.

That done, the Browns should start apologising to Sarawakians and Malaysians for the crimes committed by the British government and the White Rajahs against their former colony. Maybe, they can help return what their forefathers had robbed and plundered.

One Response to Clean up your own mess first

  1. I know that some in Malaysia wish to reposition it in closer alignment with fundamental muslim countries, notwithstanding Malaysia's history of multi-culturalism, but to adopt the language of that madman Gaddafi and describe the British as crusaders, rather disregards history.

    Not only did the British armed forces, my late father included, ensure Malaysia enjoyed Merderka post 1957, but was supported by the British during the war with Indonesia in Borneo.

    By all means criticise Brown and his sister in law, but do not broaden your attack out to include all British citizens, many of whom like me, grew-up in your beautiful country.

    Nor does it acknowledge the considerable inward investment in Malaysia from Britain and the EU., mine included.

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