Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/12/08KUALALUMPUR1075.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KUALALUMPUR1075
2008-12-10 10:36
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuala Lumpur

VZCZCXRO2610
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHKL #1075/01 3451036
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 101036Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2108
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2606
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2701
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0542
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2546
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 02 KUALA LUMPUR 001075

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2028
TAGS: PREL PINR PTER MOPS EAID KISL JP RP MY
SUBJECT: OTHMAN PUTS ONUS ON MANILA FOR IMT DECISION AND RESTART OF TALKS

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

Summary and Comment
——————-

¶1. (C) Malaysian facilitator for the Philippines Government
(GRP)/Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace talks Othman
Abdul Razak, speaking with Polcouns December 4, placed blame
on the GRP for Malaysia’s November 30 withdrawal from the
International Monitoring Team (IMT) and would not speculate
on the return of Malaysia’s IMT contingent. Manila’s delay
in reconstituting its peace panel and perceived limitations
on the IMT’s ability to investigate recent violence
contributed to Malaysia’s IMT withdrawal, though lack of
movement in the peace process was the fundamental factor.
Othman conveyed his anger toward Japanese envoys who had
pressed aggressively for Malaysia to maintain its IMT force.
With confidence between the GRP and MILF at a very low level,
Othman expressed skepticism that GRP peace advisor Esperon’s
visit to Kuala Lumpur later in December would allow for a
return to peace talks. Othman emphasized that on the subject
of Mindanao there were no policy differences between outgoing
Prime Minister Abdullah and his heir apparent Deputy Prime
Minister Najib. Polcouns highlighted the value of the IMT’s
presence and Malaysia’s role in resuming the peace process
and urged Othman to think about practical next steps since
the alternative to not pursing a negotiated settlement would
be worse. Othman affirmed Malaysia wanted a negotiated
resolution to the Mindanao conflict and stated that
Malaysia’s long-term interests were not served by having an
“armed Muslim insurgency” on its borders.

¶2. (C) Comment: Othman appeared more cynical in this
encounter than in many of our previous meetings. While
clearly irritated by recent discussions with the Japanese and
Australians, he seemed eager to share his views with us,
presumably to influence U.S. thinking. Othman placed the
primary burden on Manila to take steps to restart the peace
process and did not appear ready to discuss specific MILF
responsibilities. End Summary and Comment.

Factors Behind Malaysia’s IMT Withdrawal
—————————————-

¶3. (C) On December 4, Polcouns met with Othman Abdul Razak,
intelligence advisor to the Prime Minister and the Malaysian
government’s facilitator for the GRP/MILF peace talks.
Polcouns asked Othman about Malaysia’s decision to withdraw
its remaining IMT participants as put into effect on November
¶30. Othman responded by placing the blame on Manila, and the
GRP’s unwillingness or inability to pursue genuine
negotiations with the MILF. Without a peace process, the IMT
served no purpose, Othman emphasized. Noting the Philippines
Supreme Court ruling against a preliminary agreement on
territorial definition of the Bangsamoro entity, Othman said
the MILF now questioned the extent to which Arroyo’s
administration could negotiate a deal.

¶4. (C) Othman described two additional factors that
contributed to Malaysia’s withdrawal from the IMT. First,
according to Othman, the GRP put limitations on the IMT’s
ability to fully investigate the killing of civilians and the
involvement of three MILF commanders that precipitated a
resumption of GRP/MILF military clashes. Othman suggested
that the civilian casualties could have been paramilitary
forces, and this possibility should have been subject to an
independent IMT investigation. Under Manila’s restrictions,
however, the IMT could not carry out its mandated function.
Second, the GRP did not reconstitute its peace panel in time
to make a formal request for Malaysia to extend its IMT
involvement. Othman took this as a sign that Manila lacked
seriousness in the overall process. Othman brushed aside our
queries on the MILF’s views of Malaysia’s IMT withdrawal.

No Speculation on Return to IMT; Anger at Japanese Push
——————————————— ———-

¶5. (C) Polcouns highlighted the value of the IMT’s presence
to the overall security situation in Mindanao and in the
context of resuming the peace talks. In response to
Polcouns’ queries, Othman would not speculate directly on the
prospects or specific conditions for Malaysia to rejoin the
IMT. While remaining friendly and talkative in our meeting,

KUALA LUMP 00001075 002 OF 002

Othman stated he had been angered by repeated Japanese
approaches to pressure Malaysia to remain in the IMT. Othman
also admitted he took offense during a meeting with
Australian diplomats in which they characterized Othman as
“biased” in favor of the MILF.

Unclear Basis for Restart of Talks
———————————-

¶6. (C) With confidence between the GRP and MILF at a very
low level, Othman expressed skepticism that the planned visit
by GRP peace advisor Esperon to Kuala Lumpur later in
December would be sufficient to set the stage for a
resumption of talks with the MILF. Othman presumed that
Esperon would use the visit to present Ambassador Rafael
Seguis as the head of a reconstituted GRP peace panel as a
step in preparation for a pre-Christmas announcement by
President Arroyo that peace talks were ready to recommence.
If the GRP only brings news of a new peace panel, Othman
said, “it is hardly worth my travel to Mindanao” in order
only to present the new GRP line-up to the MILF leadership.
Absent some proposals from the GRP, which Othman did not
specify, he questioned whether and how the talks could
resume, and from what baseline. The MILF did not want to
start from scratch or roll back from tentative agreements
reached as of early August.

Malaysia Does Not Want “Muslim Insurgency” on Doorstep
——————————————— ———

¶7. (C) Polcouns urged Othman to think about practical next
steps since the alternative to not pursuing a peace process
would be worse. Othman affirmed that Malaysia maintained a
strong desire to see a negotiated settlement to the Mindanao
conflict because Malaysia’s long-term interests were not
served by having an “armed Muslim insurgency” on its borders
involving groups that have connections to Sabah. A GRP
military solution would foster extremism that would pose
dangers to Malaysia. Perceptions that Malaysia supported the
MILF, or could be used to “strong arm” the MILF, were
misinformed. Othman said the GRP was considering asking
Indonesia to take over Malaysia’s role in the peace process
presumably because, he speculated, Jakarta would be more
amenable to Manila’s wishes.

¶8. (C) In an unsolicited comment, Othman stated that related
to the Mindanao conflict there were no policy differences
between outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and his
deputy Najib Tun Razak, who is slated to take over as Prime
Minister at the end of March 2009.
KEITH

   

 

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