How is diplomatic notice a threat? Perikatan asks after PM Anwar reveals démarche from US Embassy

(MMO) – Perikatan Nasional (PN) MPs have today questioned why Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had regarded a démarche delivered by the United States embassy here as a threat towards its administration.

Amid allegations of intimidation towards Putrajaya’s stance on the Palestine issue, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal said the notice simply conveys an official diplomatic stance.

“The prime minister used the term démarche — a French term which refers to an official diplomatic stance of a government made toward another country.

“So what was mentioned [in Parliament] was not a threat, but an official stance by the US towards us, and I’m sure this is always done [in the past],” Wan Ahmad Fayhsal told a press conference at the Parliament building here.

Earlier, Anwar during the Prime Minister’s Question Time alleged that the US had exerted pressure on Malaysia, with its Department of State calling up the country’s ambassador in Washington over the matter.

His office also confirmed with the press that Putrajaya had received a démarche notice from the United States on the Palestine-Israel conflict on October 13, while the US Deputy Chief of Mission to Malaysia, Chargé d’Affaires Manu Bhalla, had called on a deputy secretary-general of Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

The US State Department defined a démarche as a “formal diplomatic representation of its official position, views, or wishes on a given subject” which seeks to “persuade, inform, or gather information from a foreign government”, or to “protest or object to actions by a foreign government”.

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was more vocal on these issues but had never once mentioned he was threatened.

“The term threat is very serious and it is a threat to the country as the one who got threatened is the prime minister.

“So that’s why we asked and [the prime minister] replied with the term demarche, but I don’t think it’s accurate,” he said, adding that it has a serious impact towards the country’s international relations with countries that are seen as attacking Malaysia’s stand on Palestine.

Earlier in Parliament, Wan Ahmad Fayhsal had asked the prime minister to reveal which other countries have issued so-called threats against Malaysia but did not receive a reply.

“We need an answer from Wisma Putra as we would like to counter-respond with protests towards those countries and in this matter we want to protect and defend the country,” he said.

Last week, Islamist party PAS labelled claims made by Anwar that he had been threatened by certain European parliamentarians after speaking up for Palestinian rights in the Middle East as “strange” and “laughable”.

Its secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan said Malaysia’s firm stance supporting the Palestinian cause and criticising Israel is well known and is not new as former prime ministers were also very vocal on this issue.