Anifah to UK: Don’t insult Malaysian voters

Anifah Aman says Mark Field should clarify his remarks about monitoring the elections.

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has defended the wisdom of Malaysian voters against criticism published in Sarawak Report, saying “I have not met one foolish or blinkered voter” in his many campaigns and that he had to “fight hard for each and every vote that has come my way”.

In a statement today, he also took issue with disdainful remarks made about prime minister Najib Razak’s absence from the recent Commonwealth summit.

Anifah said: “Let me underscore a point that is evident to all, no sane political leader in a democratic society will leave their countries less than three weeks before general elections, for any meeting abroad.”

He also expressed surprise and sadness over the tone of purported remarks by a junior British minister about the passage of the Anti-Fake News Act, and urged the minister, Mark Field, to make a clarification.

The remarks were quoted in Sarawak Report in an article claiming that it was out of embarrassment that Najib had not attended the summit, thus ruling out Malaysia for Commonwealth chairmanship in 2020 (which comes from hosting the summit).

He pointed out that the British High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur had stated that the door would be “kept open until the last minute” for Najib to attend. These were “hardly the words of the representative of the host government about an embarrassing guest”.

Anifah said Malaysia had considered hosting the summit, at the request of some Commonwealth members, but had decided against it because the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit of 21 Pacific Rim countries was also being hosted that year.

The foreign minister also defended Malaysia’s passage of the Anti-Fake News Act and the conduct of the general election against critical remarks by Mark Field to the UK Parliament.

Field, who is minister of state for Asia and the Pacific, purportedly said the UK was “monitoring developments closely, with EU and other foreign partners and stand ready to make any necessary representations”.

Anifah responded by stating that the Malaysian electorate alone, would monitor Malaysian democracy. “To assume that anyone else has the right, ability and competence is an insult to each and every Malaysian voter,” he said.

He took exception to Sarawak Report’s view that “…voters need to realise that outside of their propaganda bubble, the rest of the world has got the measure of Najib Razak…” which he took to imply that the rest of the world possesses “a wisdom denied to the Malaysian voter”.

“I have fought in many elections: in those many campaigns Malaysian voters have continuously impressed me with a clear sense of what they want for themselves and their children, an innate sense of decency and yes, an uncommon wisdom. I choose to believe in the inherent intelligence and good sense in the average Malaysian voter in my constituency of Kimanis and elsewhere,” Anifah said.

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