FORG­ING STRONGER MALAYSIA-U.S. TIES

New Straits Times - - Letters - COLLINS CHONG YEW KEAT Univer­siti Malaya

THE 60th an­niver­sary of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween Malaysia and the United States re­flects the long-run­ning mu­tual com­mit­ment to fur­ther ce­ment the solid foun­da­tion of ties.

The re­cent visit by Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak to the US on the in­vi­ta­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will el­e­vate the cur­rent state of warm re­la­tions to a higher level. Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween the US and Malaysia cer­tainly have im­proved over the past decade with back-to-back vis­its by for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama to Malaysia.

The im­por­tance of this long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with the world’s big­gest su­per­power en­com­passes a wide range of ar­eas, in­clud­ing com­merce, trade, de­fence, se­cu­rity, ed­u­ca­tion and sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

We have been ben­e­fit­ing im­mensely from the su­pe­rior tech­nol­ogy and know-how of the Amer­i­cans, strong eco­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal co­op­er­a­tion and mu­tual col­lab­o­ra­tion. The US is a cru­cial partner to us in con­tin­u­ing to boost our eco­nomic growth and sta­bil­ity.

The end of the Cold War brought about a seis­mic shift in global se­cu­rity, bring­ing with it new threats and chal­lenges that are non-tra­di­tional in na­ture.

A close global co­op­er­a­tion and shar­ing of ex­per­tise and knowhow be­tween the two coun­tries will go a long way in en­sur­ing a sta­ble and man­age­able re­gional and global se­cu­rity.

The US can pro­vide the much­needed coun­ter­bal­ance against the grow­ing in­flu­ence of China, as well as act as a partner in coun­tert­er­ror­ism in the re­gion. With se­cu­rity threats and chal­lenges com­ing in var­i­ous forms and from dif­fer­ent sources, there is no bet­ter time than now to seize the day to work to­gether in pro­vid­ing a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ship.

With grow­ing ten­sion over North Korea and the po­ten­tial cat­a­strophic rip­ples and in­sta­bil­ity that it will cre­ate, as well as the un­re­solved Ro­hingya cri­sis in Myan­mar, there is an ur­gent need to push for a care­ful and del­i­cate strat­egy in striv­ing for re­gional sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity.

Ac­tions and steps taken to ad­dress th­ese crises are not to be di­rected from a sin­gle source or a su­per­power alone. It re­quires the right sup­port, un­der­stand­ing, in­put and ac­tions of all re­gional ac­tors and play­ers. If mis­man­aged, th­ese crises will re­sult in a full-blown hu­man­i­tar­ian catas­tro­phe.

This is where the pres­ence and sup­port of the US in ex­tend­ing the hand of friend­ship will be a huge booster. Malaysia has taken the lead­er­ship in the past in work­ing with Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts and is do­ing so now through the prime min­is­ter’s visit to the US.

We have been at the fore­front of ex­tend­ing a help­ing hand to me­di­ate and to lend our sup­port in pro­vid­ing peace­ful so­lu­tions to re­gional con­flicts.

This proven track record can be used to push for a mod­er­ate and peace­ful so­lu­tion to con­flicts in the re­gion and trou­ble spots else­where.

The prospect of the re­gion be­ing the next driver of global po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic are­nas will surely invite greater scru­tiny and in­ter­est from out­side play­ers, but through the prin­ci­ple of mod­er­a­tion, Malaysia and the US can bring about a peace­ful so­lu­tion to con­flicts and, at the same time, pre­serve re­gional peace.

It is time Malaysia used our ex­cep­tional legacy of be­ing a mod­er­ate and tol­er­ant na­tion as a pos­i­tive ex­am­ple for all to em­u­late.

We should ex­tend the reach of mod­er­a­tion to the global arena, start­ing with the forg­ing of closer and en­hanced ties with our old friends in the Amer­i­cans and to lever­age on their sup­port to con­tinue to push for voices of tol­er­ance and peace­ful co­ex­is­tence and the spirit of hu­man­ity and com­pas­sion.

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