The pro-Umno Red Shirts should think twice if they plan to create a ruckus in Kuala Lumpur on 19 November. China, which has just entered into a slew of investment agreements with Malaysia, will no doubt be watching events here with interest.
This is an article I wrote for Aliran:
It must be a confusing time to be one of the nationalist pro-Umno Red Shirts. What would they make of the giant state-run and listed firms from China that are now going to be involved in billions and billions of ringgit worth of infrastructure contracts in Malaysia?
These firms’ interests span from Johor in the south all the way to Penang in the north; from the proposed Bandar Malaysia on the west coast to Kuantan on the east coast, then swivelling northwards along the east coast to Tumpat – and beyond the South China Sea, to Sarawak and Sabah.
It is not just the Red Shirts who should be concerned about this turn to China.
Certainly, there is merit in steering an independent path away from the United States’ strategic umbrella. Many of us would also be relieved if the new Trump administration got rid of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which would have mainly profited large multinational corporations and kept China at arm’s length.
But instead of keeping Malaysia on a more balanced, neutral path, the pendulum appears to have swung too far, too swiftly to the other side. The sheer magnitude of recent deals with China suggests we are entering a little too deeply into China’s sphere of influence for comfort.