Fu Wa, Feng Yi, when are you coming?


The postponement of the sending off ceremony of the pandas can been viewed in diplomatic fraternity as a “snub”.
Mohsin Abdullah, fz.com
WHEN Chinese national Gao Huayun was kidnapped in Semporna early this month, the PM did not rule out the “possibility” the abduction “may be a deliberate act to sour ties between China and Malaysia”.
“There may be those who are attempting to drive a wedge between us and China,” Datuk Seri Najib Razak was quoted saying.
The PM however did not give specifics as who “those attempting to drive” the wedge are and why they want to drive such a wedge. (A couple of days ago Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the kidnappers have asked for RM36.4 million as ransom).
Three days after Najib’s remarks, Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia  ran an opinion piece which said “Malaysia ought to have its suspicion of outside quarters with wild past who wanted to disrupt the country’s bilateral ties with China”.
Like Najib, the newspaper also did not give specifics as to who the “quarters with the wild past” are and just what is their “wild past”.
But the piece, written by one of Utusan’s assistant editors on the fate of MH370, also said “there may be some truth to the conspiracy theory blaming the CIA for the disappearance of the MAS aircraft”.
Is Utusan saying the CIA are the ones with the “wild past” out to disrupt Kuala Lumpur – Beijing ties? (More on this and Utusan’s allegation on CIA on another day.)
What ever it is, KL-Beijing ties are “strained” because of  MH370. That’s the reality and even Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has seen it fit to say “people should not pretend ties between Malaysia and China remain intact. Malaysia bashing is going on”.
And he went on to say at least 30,000 Chinese have cancelled their holiday package to Malaysia until next year as the fallout from the disappearance of MH370 becomes evident. He expected the number to get bigger.
Now we know about China putting on hold Tuesday’s ceremony to send off the two giant pandas to Malaysia. Postponed until further notice, according to news reports coming out of Beijing.
Why? “Postponement due to unavoidable reasons” was the initial response. Later officials admitted it had all to do with MH370.
When news of the postponement was released, another member of the Najib administration, Khairy Jamaluddin responded via Twitter with a “hmmm”. We all have our own interpretation as to what that could mean.
Against such a backdrop, Najib is scheduled to visit China next month – a trip intended to celebrate 40 years of bilateral ties between Malaysia and China. It was supposed to be a mammoth, or rather a proud moment, for the PM.
After all, it was his father, the nation’s  second prime minister Tun Razak Hussein who had established the ties with that historic  visit to China on May 31, 1974.
Despite what has happened or is happening, Najib will have to go. The latest revelation over the “confused initial response to the disappearance of MH370 by the military and civil aviation” is not helping Najib’s cause in China. But an aide of the PM confirmed his boss will make that trip.
According to Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post, Najib “must walk a diplomatic tightrope” balancing between showing “enthusiasm for the historic occasion and conveying respect to the families of the Chinese passengers of MH370”.
The PM’s political secretary Wong Nai Chee was quoted as saying “we are not saying we should not celebrate (the anniversary of the bilateral ties) but we have to do it in an appropriate way to take care of the sentiment of the families”.
But an observer of KL-Beijing diplomatic ties has this to say: “The mood of the anniversary will be affected of course. Not supposed to celebrate happily.”
Najib’s visit must take its course naturally. The Chinese government is not angry with Malaysia. Only certain people. But Najib does not have to apologise. Just say the right things in “diplomatic manner”.
In Huang Huikang, China’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Najib have an ally. Huang has been defending the PM and Malaysia in its handling of the MH370 episode, going on record with remarks like “Najib is saying and doing the right things”.
Despite such “kind” and “reassuring” words, Beijing still decided to put on hold the sending off ceremony of the two pandas – Fu Wa and Feng Yi.
Pandas as we know are symbol of friendship. For decades, it is common practice for Beijing to offer a pair of pandas to its dearest allies especially to mark important events.
In Malaysia’s case, that important event is the 40th anniversary of KL-Beijing diplomatic ties. Obviously, China sees Malaysia as a “close ally”.
But that notwithstanding, the postponement of the sending off ceremony of the pandas can been viewed in diplomatic fraternity as a “snub”.
However the KL-Beijing relations observer offers this reasoning: “The sending off ceremony is a happy event. As China believes the missing MAS plane will be found soon, to have a happy event now is not right”.
If I may borrow Khairy’s earlier tweet, hmmm….