Kuala Lumpur is not the only entity awaiting anxiously for the arrival of the United States' 44th President, Barack Obama as Washington is also anticipating the impact of his official visit after having it postponed due to The auspicious event will be the first in 50 years, dating back to 1966 when Lyndon Johnson was President.
Washington is looking forward to visiting Malaysia as the President is known to be keen to acquire and learn the stability of an Islamic country like ours, progressing effectively and rapidly amidst challenges in a modern setting where technology travels faster than light.
Furthermore, Malaysia is widely known to be practising moderation in its foreign policy as well as upholding its position in NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) captures the interest of the President in the country’s role in global geopolitics.
Then again, one just can’t help but to doubt the sincerity of this superpower towards our country as Malaysia falls into their watchful eyes despite being known to ally with 2 other countries in this region namely Bangkok, Manila and the closest being Singapore.
And then we have some who believe that the positive impression roots from Obama’s open and friendly administration and not DS Najib’s.
Cynical thoughts aside, one needs to remember that Washington’s perception towards our country changed for the better as soon as DS Najib took Office in April 2009.
On June 4th 2009, Obama who had just sworn in as the President delivered a speech in front of the Muslim countries in Cairo, praising Malaysia as an Islamic country with moderation and wasatiyya, an approach that according to Obama, should be instilled in other Muslim countries around the world.
The Cairo speech and Obama’s outlook towards Malaysia can be deemed critical and meaningful as such view showed Washington’s diplomacy towards Muslim countries, be it friend or foe.
Another highlight would be when Obama opened a speech via telecast during the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Symposium in Kuala Lumpur in October 2013, addressing his admiration towards this country.
And then we have some who think that his visit to Malaysia is untimely and peculiar as the country is still grieving with the mystery and loss of the ill-fated Beijing bound MH370 flight.
This is the same group who are trying to link Obama’s visit here and to other US allies such as the Philippines, South Korea and Japan. Well, his official visits to the three mentioned countries are free from negative perceptions as they are more of a known strategic understanding, with known agenda.
For instance, Washington and Manila would have deliberated and discussed about the arrangement of an US military base there and a visit by the President would be most obliged.
The cynical ones can be seen trying the very best to somehow connect the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 with the inept Search and Rescue Team which included the prestigious US military and thus giving a somewhat negative perception towards the President.
However, the whole world saw and watched how Kuala Lumpur coordinated the Search and Rescue Mission involving over 26 countries, beginning from the last known contact with the plane in the South China Sea, along the Straits of Malacca and now the fierce and nasty waters of the Indian Ocean. Perhaps Malaysia’s ability to conduct and assist the military men and assets from around the world succeeded Obama’s expectations about our dear all these while.
Countries United Effort For MH370
Let us take a look at China, a country so sensitive and secretive with its military capability and statistics, have set that aside to aid Malaysia in finding the plane, considering that most of its passengers is its natives. Beijing has ordered for its war ships, planes and even satellites to be deployed and most are still being used to locate the plane.
Even the US and Australia have indeed showcased their capabilities, namely the widely talked about but never publicly used JORN, located in Alice Springs, Australia which is able to detect air and maritime movements all the way up to the Indian Ocean. All the data are shared in the name of solidarity to locate the plane.
The Britain is also said to have sent their HMS Tireless submarines to the Indian Ocean to assist the ones that are already deployed. The involvement of HMS Tireless is seen as a significant epitome of solidarity as usually the deployment of naval ships and submarines are not something made public for the world to see.
Hence it can be concluded that the negative remarks and speculation with regards to Obama’s visit to Kuala Lumpur especially one where it is said to be untimely can be easily rebutted. Instead, we should view the official visit as the best opportunity for both parties, Obama’s particularly, to let him see with his own eyes the stability and peacefulness that this country has to offer to the world of geopolitics.
Thus, this foreign policy of ours in promoting peace and stability can be deduced as the main catalyst in getting the 26 countries to assist us in the MH370 Search & Rescue Mission. This joint effort, a first of its kind in the world, have shown how such a delicate and costly assignment of locating the doomed flight seem doable with the presence of trust and respect, and above all, to ease the pain and suffering felt by the families and friends.
And to think that a small country like Malaysia is able to conduct and coordinate the rescue effort is just mind-boggling indeed!
In addition, we cannot leave out Malaysia’s active involvement with the Bangsamoro Comprehensive Agreement between Manila and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which was signed a few weeks back, where again we can see our country acting as the catalyst for the peace, betterment and justice of Muslims at large.
Yes, Malaysia is a tiny country with developing economy and adequate military strength, but one thing is for sure, it has a big heart and willing to work with other countries to achieve peace for humanity and growth which can be seen with our keen participation in ASEAN as well as OIC.
Our influential voice is further noticed when DS Najib became the only ASEAN leader to be given a historic bilateral meeting with Obama during the Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010 in Washington.
With all said, we can effectively conclude that amongst the 4 countries scheduled for Obama’s visit this end of April, Malaysia will be the most anticipated by Washington, as the impact will surely pave way for Asia’s future stability and significance.