Audio clips won’t hinder ties with UAE, say analysts

MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya revealed the nine audio clips linked to 1MDB and SRC International on Wednesday.

PETALING JAYA: Diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates are unlikely to be affected by the public release of a recorded phone conversation allegedly involving Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan, according to two political analysts.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission released audio recordings which it said were of conversations between former prime minister Najib Razak and Sheikh Mohammed Zayed, who is crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces.

Yeah Kim Leng, a professor of economics at Sunway University, said he does not foresee diplomatic ties with Abu Dhabi being threatened by the audio clip. He said both countries should move on from the matter.

Yeah Kim Leng.

“While the clip could have ruffled the UAE’s leadership, it is unlikely to lead to a deterioration of government-to-government ties.

“It’s in the best interest of the two countries to put the sordid affairs behind by correcting the past misdeeds expeditiously,” he told FMT.

Azmi Hassan, a geostrategist at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said the issue could give the impression that the government was insensitive in managing its diplomatic relationships, since MACC is a government agency.

“MACC’s action is something similar to the leaked phone conversation between US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Nieto, or Trump with former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, which caused embarrassment on all sides.

“But again, both of Trump’s phone calls were leaked by somebody, whereas in MACC’s case it was done openly by a government agency,” he told FMT.

He said this situation could give the impression that the revelations were authorised by the government, adding that Abu Dhabi cannot be faulted for thinking that Putrajaya was trying to embarrass them.

Azmi Hassan.

Azmi said, however, that he expects the UAE to “ignore this awkward situation”.

He said he would not be bothered if Putrajaya was viewed as “amateurish or foolish” in managing its foreign ties, as long as it does not give rise to “punitive consequences”.

Nine audio clips were released earlier this week purportedly featuring Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor; government prosecutor Dzulkifli Ahmad, who later became MACC chief commissioner; and Sheikh Mohammed Zayed .

The MACC said others involved included former attorney-generals Abdul Gani Patail and Mohamed Apandi Ali, Baling MP Abdul Azeez Rahim, Ihsan Perdana managing director Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman, former SRC International director Suboh Md Yassin, Abdul Aziz Ismail, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and “Tan Sri Shukri”.

The conversations also mentioned the names of UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, IPIC chairman Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan and Mubadala Development Company CEO Khaldoon Al-Mubarak.

Sheikh Mansour and Khaldoon were heads of companies involved in dealings with scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

The release of the clips led Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan to warn that it could affect diplomatic ties between the two countries, as a conversation with a foreign leader was a secret matter and it was not right to reveal the conversations without going through the proper legal process.