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Jakarta Post

Malaysia’s foreign policy balancing act

PREMIUM
Singapore   /   Mon, June 10, 2019   /  02:12 pm
Malaysia’s foreign policy balancing act Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a joint news conference with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (not pictured) in Putrajaya, Malaysia April 9, 2019. (Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

One year on since the 2018 electoral victory, Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan government, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, has kept the main thrust of foreign policy of past governments of the Barisan Nasional. But slight readjustments have been made to reorient Malaysia’s foreign policy to the center, enabling Pakatan to strive for more balance in Malaysia’s foreign bilateral relations. The idea is to reinforce Malaysia’s nonaligned posture and pragmatic equidistance to two equally important countries to ensure domestic benefits. As with Barisan, Pakatan conducted Malaysia’s bilateral relations through the domestic lenses of ethno-religious nationalist sentiments and economic benefits for the local populace. Former prime minister Najib Razak was criticized for being too close to China, while Mahathir was keen on looking more to Japan, as a ret...

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