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Public Statements

Malaysia

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

MALAYSIA -- (Senate - June 03, 2008)

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I would like to share with my colleagues an important development in Asia with implications for regional security.

Malaysia, a moderate country of 27 million people with an Islamic majority, has long been a major high-tech manufacturing center, producing components of goods that are in personal computers and household items throughout our country, as well as throughout the world. It is encouraging to see economic reforms now complemented by political ones.

In response to a call for change voiced by the people in the March 8 Malaysian elections, in which opposition candidates made gains in Parliament, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has proposed a series of significant reforms to promote a more independent and effective judiciary and to increase anticorruption efforts across Malaysia.

In the area of judicial reform, Prime Minister Badawi has proposed a new Judicial Appointments Commission to identify, recommend and evaluate candidates for the judiciary based on clearly defined criteria. He has also offered a proposal to improve the quality of judges by reviewing the compensation and terms of service for judges to attract and retain the most qualified judges.

Recognizing the major public concern about corruption in Malaysia, Mr. Badawi has taken steps to make Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Agency, ACA,
become a fully supported and independent commission with an independent corruption prevention advisory board. He has also undertaken action intended to triple the number of anticorruption officers, and to establish a parliamentary committee on corruption prevention that would review annual reports by the ACA.

Mr. Badawi's reform proposals also include greater support and protections for freedom of the press, including issuing one-time--rather than annual--licenses for media organizations and approving a permit for the party of main opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's People's Justice Party to publish its own newspaper.

Malaysia's pursuit of democracy and its struggle against Islamic extremism are critical for establishing lasting peace, prosperity, and security both for the Malaysian people and for the entire Southeast Asian region. The future direction of countries such as Malaysia is of significant importance to the United States as we work with others to fight extremists.

The relationship between these types of reforms and security in Malaysia and the surrounding region is the subject of a recent op-ed in the Providence Journal by Stuart Eizenstat, who served as Undersecretary of State and Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. This editorial, which I am submitting for the Record, also notes Mr. Badawi's initiative to have Muslim states which are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, commit themselves to a joint plan to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and unemployment in the Islamic world. Attention to that kind of investment in basic social needs in the Islamic world is an essential element of combating extremism. Human security requires protection not only of law and freedom, but of economic security, and I commend Mr. Eizenstat's article for its recognition of how these issues intersect in the current reform efforts being undertaken in Malaysia.

I ask unanimous consent that the editorial to which I referred be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

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