“Anwar’s idea of new imperialism”

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim might not have fully elaborated the foreign policy concerns of the new administration.Although the unity government is only four months old, a change in foreign policy direction might be in the offing.His visit to China underlined by his concerns about “new imperialism” might give some indications of the thinking of the country’s new government.

I doubt that when Anwar raised the matter of new imperialism, it was directed solely at the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yes, this invasion was a sore point for many nations, including Malaysia, it, however, was not the main thrust of Anwar’s statement in Beijing.If I am not wrong, the concept of new imperialism was used in the larger context of how big and powerful nations bully and subdue smaller, weaker nations. It is not about military subjugation as in the case of Ukraine, but how powerful countries use trade and investments to engage unfairly with small countries.

Prof P. Ramasamy (Photo credit: MalayMail)

There is no need to read too much into Anwar’s statement to decipher the actual meaning. His concept of new imperialism ties in neatly with the need to maintain Malaysia and ASEAN as a whole as free and neutral.Thus, what was elaborated in Beijing was not a departure from Malaysia’s earlier stand on the need to maintain the country as neutral and impartial.Therefore, the enunciation of the concept of new imperialism is not solely about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.It was raised in China not so much to embarrass its support for Russia but as a broader term that might be consonant with China’s own foreign policy concerns about the problem of its encirclement by the U.S. and its allies in certain geopolitical zones.It is interesting that Anwar came up with this term, but it will be interesting to see how the concept can be fleshed out soon. This will mean that Malaysia might be moving in the direction of coming out with a new thinking on foreign policy.I hope that those who are attached to the Ukraine invasion should tread carefully and not fall into the political and ideological entrapment of the West. — April 2, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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