Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/01/08KUALALUMPUR4.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KUALALUMPUR4
2008-01-02 09:38
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuala Lumpur

VZCZCXRO2983
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHKL #0004/01 0020938
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 020938Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0425
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2450
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0373
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KUALA LUMPUR 000004

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS AND PM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/02/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER MARR ECON RP TH MY
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S INTRODUCTORY CALL ON DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER NAJIB

Classified By: Political Section Chief Mark D. Clark for reasons 1.4 (b
and d).

Summary
——-

¶1. (C) The Ambassador and Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun
Razak met on December 31 for an introductory call, during
which they discussed U.S. and Malaysia’s common interests in
bolstering international systems such as the UN and WTO.
Najib described core relations with the U.S. as good and
looked forward to increased bilateral engagement, but after
the U.S. elections. The Ambassador encouraged greater
engagement and highlighted the on-going FTA negotiations as
an opportunity to strengthen relations. Najib commented that
the two countries would continue to agree to disagree on some
issues, such as human rights and the Iraq war. Military
relations were “strong and stable,” Najib noted, and he said
he would attempt to resolve the port fees issue impeding U.S.
naval visits. With U.S. assistance for radar installations,
Malaysia was improving its ability to deny terrorist access
to transit routes in the Sulu/Sulawesi seas area. Malaysia
and its neighbors had successfully bolstered security in the
Straits of Malacca. The Deputy Prime Minister expressed
concern over the failure of the latest MILF peace talks and
criticized the Philippines government for allegedly reneging
on earlier promises. Malaysia hoped the next Thai government
would adopt a conciliatory approach to stem unrest in
southern Thailand. End Summary.

Common Interest in Global Systems
———————————

¶2. (C) Ambassador Keith paid an introductory call on Deputy
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Najib Tun Razak on
December 31. Taking a strategic and global perspective, the
Ambassador and Najib discussed the desirability of well
integrating China and India into the world economy and the
international system. Najib agreed with the Ambassador that
it is in the interests of both Malaysia and the U.S. to work
together to strengthen global systems, such as those under
the United Nations and WTO. The Ambassador noted
nonproliferation and export controls in this context, urging
a leadership role for Malaysia in the Financial Action Task
Force (FATF) and steps leading to Malaysia’s qualification
over time as member of the Mission Control Technology Regime
(MCTR). The Ambassador welcomed Malaysia’s continued
commitment to UN peacekeeping as an indication of its ability
to contribute to the strengthening of international
institutions on a global basis.

Core Relations Good, Look Toward More Engagement
——————————————— —

¶3. (C) Najib pronounced the “core” U.S.-Malaysia
relationship to be “in good shape.” Recognizing that
Malaysia and the U.S. share some important common global
interests, Najib said that, “We want to engage more with the
United States and I’d like to do so personally.” Najib added
that he saw such high-level engagement taking place only
after the U.S. elections. The DPM noted that Malaysia would
welcome the U.S. adopting foreign policies with greater
emphasis on international consensus and engagement. The
Ambassador encouraged Najib to carry out an official visit to
Washington and pledged to assist in arrangements.

FTA

¶4. (C) The Ambassador highlighted the on-going FTA
negotiations as offering an important opportunity to
strengthen the relationship, noting the next round of talks
slated to begin January 14. The U.S. hoped that
International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah could help
to conclude the agreement by summer 2008. The Ambassador
alluded to recent decisions by the Ford Company and others to
disinvest from Malaysia, and argued that an FTA would help
U.S. companies remain part of the country’s success story.
Najib responded positively and stated that “we have given
Rafidah the mandate” to conclude a deal.

Agreeing to Disagree
——————–

KUALA LUMP 00000004 002 OF 003

¶5. (C) The Ambassador, alluding to U.S. public comments on
issues such as freedom of assembly and trafficking in
persons, noted that human rights would remain part of the
U.S. policy agenda. Najib commented that the two countries
would continue to agree to disagree on some issues in the
relationship. He offered the Iraq war as an example.
Malaysia did not support the U.S.-led military action, not
out of sympathy for Saddam Hussein, but because Malaysia
believed the U.S. should concentrate resources on the fight
against international terrorism and Al Qaeda rather than open
“another front” that would become deeply unpopular.

Mil-Mil Relations “Strong and Stable”
————————————-

¶6. (C) U.S.-Malaysia defense relations “are very strong and
stable,” Najib stated. The military-to-military relationship
featured “lots of interaction,” including seminars,
symposiums, intelligence exchange, and, “in a limited way,”
exercises. Malaysian armed forces “always participate” when
invited to a U.S. military event. The Ambassador said the
U.S. was grateful for the extent of bilateral military
cooperation and wanted to steadily expand our defense ties.
The Ambassador noted that we would need to address the issue
of Malaysian port fees for U.S. naval vessels in order to
maintain such port calls. Najib stated, “We don’t want your
sailors and ships to be charged” such fees, and said he was
looking into the situation.

Sabah; Counter-terrorism
————————

¶7. (C) Najib expressed his appreciation for support under
the U.S. DOD 1206 program for coastal radar installations in
eastern Sabah, which would give Malaysian forces “good
coverage” of the tri-border maritime area between Malaysia,
Indonesia and the Philippines. This would help Malaysia deny
access to the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist
groups, including blocking the JI transit route between
Mindanao and Indonesia. Najib stated that Malaysia had
addressed the security concerns within Sabah itself and he
was pleased to see U.S. sailors taking liberty in Sabah; in
fact, Americans should feel safe anywhere in Malaysia. The
Ambassador said the U.S. is very satisfied with
counter-terrorism cooperation with Malaysia, but vigilance
remained necessary. Continued reports of terrorist-related
activities meant that both countries must still watch the
issue closely in the tri-border area and elsewhere.

Improved Security in the Straits of Malacca
——————————————-

¶8. (C) DPM Najib affirmed that security in the Straits of
Malacca had improved in recent years due to greater attention
and cooperation among Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia
including joint patrols and the “Eyes in the Sky” program,
which Najib claimed as his own concept. These efforts were
showing results, with reduced incidences of piracy, adding
that the threat in the Straits was never one of international
terrorism.

Concern over Mindanao Peace Process
———————————–

¶9. (C) DPM Najib, reflecting evident personal interest and
attention, raised the subject of the Malaysia-facilitated
peace talks between the Philippines Government (GRP) and the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), saying that Malaysia
was watching the situation in the southern Philippines “very
carefully.” Najib said the latest informal talks in
mid-December constituted a “failure” because the GRP
“reneged” on earlier promises and consequently the MILF had
walked out. Najib said it would be a matter of “some
concern” if the GRP “doesn’t stick to its commitments,” and
this would be a set-back to the needed development of trust
between the parties. If the GRP went ahead with a
referendum, the outcome could be counter-productive.
President Arroyo appeared to be in an “internal tussle” with
some of her Cabinet members; nevertheless, Mindanao required
a political settlement. Najib warned that the current
deployment of International Monitoring Team (IMT) members
would be Malaysia’s “last stint,” as Malaysia would not
extend the mission beyond August 2008, which will mark a
four-year IMT commitment. Najib said, “I hope the U.S. can

KUALA LUMP 00000004 003 OF 003

play its part” to encourage compromise. Ambassador Keith
assured Najib of U.S. engagement in support of the peace
process and a comprehensive agreement. Ambassador Keith
suggested that interim setbacks were to be expected given the
history of this issue and we continued to believe in the
viability of the peace process.

Waiting for New Thai Government
——————————-

¶10. (C) Najib said he hoped the new Thai government, once
formed, would adopt a conciliatory approach to ethnic Malay
communities in southern Thailand. Heavy-handed policies
during the Thaksin period had triggered a cycle of violence
and a stepped-up insurgency. While incidences of violence
had abated somewhat since Thaksin’s ouster, the outgoing
military government had not been in place long enough to
bring about significant change. Bangkok should grant
religious freedom and exercise religious tolerance in the
south, and not try to assimilate the ethnic Malays. On the
other hand, the ethnic Malays must respect Thai laws, the
Constitution and the King, and learn the Thai language in
schools. Malaysia could not force ethnic Malays to return to
Thailand, but Najib hoped that Thai government security
guarantees would encourage more refugees to return. The
Ambassador acknowledged Malaysia’s security and humanitarian
issues related to the southern Thai insurgency, and
anticipated further direct discussions between Kuala Lumpur
and Bangkok. Najib observed that the political situation in
Thailand had prevented conclusive results from earlier
discussions, but he expected Malaysia and Thailand to
reengage in the not-too-distant future.

Migrant Workers and Indonesia
—————————–

¶11. (C) The Ambassador raised the importance of sound
policies regarding migration and migrant workers. Najib
stated that Malaysia has two million legal foreign workers,
but needed to reduce the number of undocumented migrant
laborers, estimated at up to one million. Indonesians
constituted the largest group of foreign laborers, and the
migrant worker issue featured prominently in relations
between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Comment
——-

¶12. (C) Najib presented himself as energetic and engaging in
the Ambassador’s introductory call. He spoke strategically
and recognized that a Malaysian role in bolstering the
international framework is in line with Malaysia’s national
interest. This represents a useful angle for us to pursue as
we promote U.S. objectives, such as non-proliferation and
export control. While he did not call for expanded defense
ties, Najib clearly values the current bilateral military
relationship with the United States and appears willing to
countenance steady, deliberate expansion of our security ties.
KEITH

   

 

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