PETALING JAYA: Malaysia may one day find itself at a point of no return with its dependence on the economic might of China.
Federal lawmaker Charles Santiago suggested such a scenario following Prime Minister Najib Razak’s current China trip and the major deals previously agreed, and new ones being announced between the two nations.
“While Najib calls China a ‘true friend and strategic partner’, Chinese President Xi Jinping says China’s relations with Malaysia is akin to ‘being as close as lips are to teeth’.
“My only concern is that one day China will bite Malaysia real hard as it knows Malaysia is in its pocket, as the needy partner.
And when that happens Malaysia may be forced to tow the line, for fear of angering China,” Santiago said in a statement released today.
Looking back at the events of the past year, the Klang MP said the pressure of the 1MDB scandal and the threat of insolvency against the state-owned investment firm, had Najib falling flat for “China’s promise of large stacks of Renminbi”.
“China has already extended a helping hand by buying up 1MDB’s bad investments.
“In November, China General Nuclear Power Corp said it would pay US$2.3 billion in cash and take on an unspecified amount of debt for a group of power plants from debt-ridden 1MDB.
“Within weeks, the China Railway Construction Corp agreed to buy a 60 per cent stake in a 1MDB property project called Bandar Malaysia for US$1.7 billion in a joint venture with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings.
“And now it’s been confirmed that the East Coast Rail Link will be funded and built by China,” Santiago said, adding that Najib’s efforts to woo the Chinese has reaped great benefits, bringing in even more cash.
However, all this, the DAP lawmaker warns, is part of China’s ongoing effort to use its economic might as a leverage to continue wooing countries in Southeast Asia.
“It’s an open secret that Beijing’s power manipulation has had countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines at loggerheads, and now it wants to bring Malaysia, under its ambit.
“But at what cost, one may ask, particularly with regards to matters concerning foreign policy,” Santiago said, lamenting Malaysia’s pin drop silence on the South China Sea dispute, among other things.
Santiago also called it a folly by Najib to also be exploring deeper defence cooperation with China, as the latter has no other intention other than to dislodge Washington’s grip on Asian countries.