Political Fundings From Abroad: At What Price?

Posted on July 25, 2011

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President Gamal Abd ElNasser, the second presi...

President Gamal Abd. ElNasser, the second President of Egypt Image via Wikipedia

It does not matter where the sources of these fundings come from. The bottom line is who benefits from such incoming funds.And there is always the two sides of a coin: The head or the tail. It is the fund raisers who will deliver to whom they so desire. To them monetary value is not their paramount concern but their  political value does. This is the bottom line of it all. There is no such things as raising funds for charity. Not for those who harbour hidden political agenda. As columnist Shamsul Akmar in his latest entry in New Sunday Times  says:

These political fundings by the West, in particular by the US, is a strategic concern, though mostly camouflaged by good intentions — support for democratisation, reforms, liberation and ending dictatorship or authoritarianism. There have been too many examples of how these fundings were used to prop up stooges to serve the interests of the West, at the expense of popular leaders. At the other end, Western support for demagogues and dictators filled pages after pages of history books. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is probably a very good example of Washington’s hypocrisy in promoting democracy that, until the very end, he was propped up militarily and financially by US taxpayers.”  (New Sunday TimesThe price of political funding” by Shamsul Akmar, New sunday times,  24 july 2011).

If such funds do exist in Malaysia as some allegedly suggest, the country then will be confronted with the danger of becoming a prey to the fund raisers from abroad.  And one such recipient of the overseas fund raiser has admitted publicly to fund his/her recent activity  Whether such activity that is. Whether the activity has brought positive or negtive result is not the point, but its consequence does, even though the organizer and some political analysts say it would benefit the country in the long run while others say otherwise.It again will depend on which side of the divide you are. To explain what transpires if such political funds do exist, I will reproduce  Shamsul Akmar’s full version of his column for the interest  of the general public.    

“SOME Egyptians have likened the 187m Cairo Tower to Gamal Abdel Nasser‘s middle finger being shown to the United States.The structure is sometimes called the CIA tower, justified by the popular belief that Nasser had appropriated a “bribe” from the American Central Intelligence Agency, intended to stop him from leaning towards the Soviet bloc.
In short, Nasser (Egyptian president from 1956 to 1970) decided during the Cold War to snub the CIA’s attempts to influence him through monetary gains and, instead, used the fund to erect the Cairo tower.

Of interest is that such funding is not exclusive to the Cold War. It had been in circulation before the Cold War, during the era of colonialism and had continued long after it ended, spilling into neo-colonialism. These political fundings by the West, in particular by the US, is a strategic concern, though mostly camouflaged by good intentions — support for democratisation, reforms, liberation and ending dictatorship or authoritarianism. There have been too many examples of how these fundings were used to prop up stooges to serve the interests of the West, at the expense of popular leaders. At the other end, Western support for demagogues and dictators filled pages after pages of history books. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is probably a very good example of Washington’s hypocrisy in promoting democracy that, until the very end, he was propped up militarily and financially by US taxpayers.

Malaysia, too, is not bereft of such attention from Washington and its Western allies. In contemporary history, their interests in dictating the nation’s leadership and direction became apparent during the 1997/98 financial and political crises. On the pretext of supporting a popular uprising, then US vice-president Al Gore ignored all diplomatic protocols and explicitly expressed Washington’s backing for the Reformasi movement at a dinner hosted by the Malaysian government.

Before that, all the media and political tools of Washington were in full swing to demonise Malaysia when the government refused to accept loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF); this, in effect, gave Malaysia the independence of not taking IMF’s prescription in dealing with the currency crisis. The unprecedented move by a developing nation had caused some dent to the, otherwise, all powerful IMF, a Washington tool wielded freely to subjugate impoverished nations to bend to its will. Such was the impact of Malaysia’s decision to stand up to the IMF that its domination on developing nations has been punctured and recently, Egypt, too, post-Mubarak, spurned IMF’s loan offer on supposedly “very friendly” and “non-burdening” terms.

Post-1999, Washington became less visible, probably going back to the drawing board, though some of its running dogs, who failed miserably in the 1998 attempt in the likes of John R. Malott, continued to bark the same agenda whenever the opportunity arose. The change of guards in the Malaysian leadership since 2003 has also seen the government seeking to foster a closer relationship with Washington, sometimes perceived to be too subservient in its eagerness. The question is, has Washington changed its stand on the current leadership, meaning it will not attempt to interfere in its domestic affairs? Superficially, it has not explicitly “frowned” on the current government. But that does not mean that Washington is not keen to see a “regime change” here.

However, it would be presumptuous to state it as such until the hands are seen. That, however, does not mean that external funds and supports are not being extended to influence, if not dictate, the political affairs of the nation. How does one decide if the funding to Malaysian non-governmental organisations from US-based organisations is benevolent or malevolent? That is probably the question that should be explored in the case of Bersih 2.0, whose leader, Datuk S. Ambiga, was reported by a news portal as admitting that Bersih received funds from two US-based organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI) — but denied that the monies were for the rally but for other projects. But, what other projects does Bersih have that are of any significance other than organising a rally, the bigger the better?

The link between the NDI and OSI with Bersih could send jitters to those who had been closely observing these organisations, leading one to the National Endowment for Democracy that is identified as a neo-con outfit. For the uninitiated, the neo-cons are loosely identified as advocates of the use of American economic and military power to suppress belligerent nations (to be read as countries that refused to bend to Washington’s policies) and to export American-style liberal democracy. The neo-cons have been attributed to be the architects of the invasion of Iraq and, at the same time, are pro-Zionists and avowed to defend the interests of Tel Aviv. For some, such concern may be brushed aside as coming from conspiracy theorists or those suffering from Jewish paranoia. For others, does it really matter if there were foreign hands involved? What is important is that the political enemy must be brought down to its knees.

That brings to mind an edict from an influential Pas leader some time ago that it was all right even to work with the iblis (Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, take your pick) in the fight against Barisan Nasional. The doors should be opened, widely.”

 

 

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