U.S.-Malaysian Relations during the Bush Administration: The Political, Economic, and Security Aspects

By Sodhy, Pamela | Contemporary Southeast Asia, December 2003 | Go to article overview

U.S.-Malaysian Relations during the Bush Administration: The Political, Economic, and Security Aspects


Sodhy, Pamela, Contemporary Southeast Asia


Bilateral Relations during the Clinton Presidency

In general, since Malaysia's independence in 1957, the United States and Malaysia have enjoyed cordial relations in trade, investment, defence, narcotics control, and cultural and educational exchanges. (1) Both nations also adhere to shared core values, such as the belief in democracy, in free enterprise, and in religious tolerance. Over the years, cooperation between them has outweighed tension. Briefly, past tensions have included the tin and rubber stockpile disposal plans, the Vietnamese refugee problem, the palm oil issue, the fears over America's withdrawal of its General System of Preferences (GSP) privileges for Malaysia, and differing perceptions on the Gulf War. During the first Clinton administration (1992-96), the relationship began very well. For example, on the political front, Clinton's first term saw an end to the Vietnamese refugee problem as all the remaining refugees in Malaysia were, by 1996, repatriated to Vietnam with U.S. assistance.

Clinton's second term (1996-2000) saw increasing bilateral tensions over several issues, making the closing years of the Clinton administration a very difficult period in U.S.-Malaysian relations, perhaps the most difficult to date. First, there was trouble over the 1997 Asian financial crisis, with a clash of views on its causes. To Mahathir, the crisis was due to the actions of currency speculators like George Soros, while to U.S. policymakers it was due to the lack of transparency in business dealings, the collusion between government and business, structural weaknesses in the Asian economies, and to other reasons like over-speculation, corruption, and cronyism. (2)

The two countries also held differing views on how to handle the financial crisis. Mahathir chose to use controversial currency controls which pegged the Malaysian ringgit to the U.S. dollar, required all ringgit to be sent back to Malaysia, and prevented the ringgit from being taken out of Malaysia for at least a year to stabilize the stock market and protect Malaysia from destabilizing short-term outflows of foreign capital. He also believed in priming the pump to jumpstart the Malaysian economy. His policies, however, meant going against International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank prescriptions for the stricken Southeast Asian nations, such as fiscal restraint and the cutting of subsidies. Mahathir was criticized at the time for his currency controls but he has since been vindicated as the controls did work for Malaysia whereas some IMF and World Bank policies further weakened countries like Indonesia? Yet another source of irritation in 1997 was the U.S. attempt to investigate the Petronas gas deal in Iran. In protesting this move, the Malaysian government pointed out that it did not accept extra-territorial applications of Washington's Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 and that Malaysian companies would continue to do business in Iran and Libya. (4)

On top of these differences was growing disagreement with U.S. policy towards the Middle East, especially over what was perceived as America's pro-Israel stance, which was at odds with Malaysia's support for the Palestinian cause. Bilateral tensions were further exacerbated when, in September 1998, Mahathir sacked his deputy prime minister and finance minister, Anwar Ibrahim. Mahathir also expelled him from the ruling party and humiliated him with charges of corruption and sexual misconduct.

Tensions increased when Vice President AI Gore made some remarks supporting pro-Anwar demonstrators in a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Kuala Lumpur in November 1998. In that speech, Gore had hailed "the brave people of Malaysia" for seeking reformasi or reform in Malaysia. Relations deteriorated further when Anwar's second trial on sodomy charges ended with a guilty verdict in August 2000 and he was sentenced to another nine years in prison. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

U.S.-Malaysian Relations during the Bush Administration: The Political, Economic, and Security Aspects
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.