Malaysia: middle or middling power?

Embracing Hamas does nothing to advance those objectives given that many countries in the Middle East are themselves very wary of Hamas.

Dennis Ignatius

1. Is it the absence of leadership that causes us to keep pivoting from one controversy to another? Having gone through weeks of polemics over socks, high-heel shoes, and prayer mats, we are now in a kerfuffle about the remarks of a rather controversial academic with a penchant for courting publicity by making outrageous claims. Clearly, the organisers didn’t do their homework when they invited him.

2. Professor Gilley’s characterisation of Malaysia’s position on Palestine as tantamount to calling for a “second holocaust” is, of course, asinine, and not even worthy of a response. His claims that his safety had been compromised are also self-serving.

3. But his comments, as outrageous as they are, have provoked a timely discussion about our foreign policy and how we are being perceived abroad, particularly in the light of our support for Palestine.

4. Malaysia’s strong support for the people of Palestine has been a mainstay of our foreign policy since independence and is well-known. It is a position that many other countries – and increasingly millions of people across the globe – also share. We certainly don’t need to be apologetic about it.

5. The prime minister’s over-the-top support for Hamas, however, has taken Malaysia into uncharted territory. Harshly condemning Israel’s horrific genocide against Palestinians and providing whatever humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza is one thing; actively giving moral and other support to a group like Hamas is quite another.

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