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09KUALALUMPUR835 2009-10-22 05:11:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kuala Lumpur
Cable title:  

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG'S SEPTEMBER 28, 2009

Tags:   OVIP STEINBERG JAMES PREL PGOV MY CH 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 000835 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OVIP STEINBERG JAMES PREL PGOV MY CH
SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG'S SEPTEMBER 28, 2009
LUNCH WITH MALAYSIAN POLITICIANS AND CIVIL SOCIETY
REPRESENTATIVES



1. (SBU) September 28, 2009; 12:30 p.m.; The Ambassador's
residence; Kuala Lumpur.



2. (SBU) Participants:

U.S.


--------------------------


The Deputy Secretary
Ambassador Keith
Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, Directorate of National
Intelligence
Joseph Donovan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Scot Marciel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, EAP
Derek Mitchell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defense
Rear Admiral Joseph Leidig, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Pamela Park, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary
Brian McFeeters, Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy Kuala
Lumpur (notetaker)

MALAYSIA


--------------------------


Nur Jazlan, Member of Parliament (MP), United Malays National
Organization (UMNO)
Charles Santiago, MP, Democratic Action Party (DAP)
Dzulkifly Ahmad, MP, Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS)
Michael Yeoh, CEO, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute
Ibrahim Suffian, Merdeka Center (Principle Polling
Organization in Malaysia)
Ms. Ivy Josiah, Executive Director, Women's Aid Organization
Ms. Tricia Yeoh, Economic advisor to the Chief Minister of
Selangor State



3. (SBU) SUMMARY: A diverse group of Malaysian
Parliamentarians and civil society representatives told
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg at a September 28
luncheon that Malaysians looked favorably on the United
States and were interested in President Obama's message of
outreach to the Muslim world. At the same time, many were
waiting to see results of the new U.S. approach on the
ground, particularly in the Middle East, where
Israel-Palestine and Iran are sensitive issues. Most saw
China's growing influence as favorable since it meant more
financial and commercial investment in Southeast Asia, though
one Parliamentarian noted concerns about China's military
development. NGO representatives suggested that the USG
provide the GOM with training on identifying trafficking
victims and operating victim shelters. END SUMMARY.



4. (SBU) At a September 28 luncheon hosted by the Ambassador,
Deputy Secretary Steinberg told a group of Parliamentarians
from both the ruling and opposition parties, civil society
leaders and academics that the United States sought stronger
relations with Malaysia in line with its decision to devote
more attention to the political stability and economic
development of Southeast Asia. Malaysia, he said,
exemplified Islamic beliefs coexisting with a pluralist
democracy and its role in international organizations such as
the Non-aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic
Conference made it a valuable channel for overcoming
North-South misperceptions. He asked for suggestions on
improving U.S.-Malaysia relations and about U.S. foreign
policy in Asia and the Middle East.



5. (SBU) Parliamentarian Jazlan, from the ruling United
Malays National Organization (UMNO) party, replied that
U.S.-Malaysian relations would improve if the U.S. were
willing to talk about Malaysian interests generally, rather
than just about counter-terrorism. He added that most
Malaysians saw the U.S.-Malaysian relationship primarily in
economic terms, but that China's growing influence in Asia
convinced him that mil-to-mil relations were also important.
Parliamentarian from the opposition Democratic Action Party
(DAP) Santiago said President Obama's election had led
Malaysians to question why Malaysia did not give equal
opportunities to all races. Most other comments focused not
on U.S.-Malaysian relations per se, but on the U.S. global
role, particularly in the Middle East and Afghanistan.



6. (SBU) Parliamentarian from the opposition People's Islamic
Party (PAS) Dzulkifly, describing himself as an "Islamic
democrat," said that Malaysians had welcomed President
Obama's outreach to the Muslim world including his June
speech in Cairo. However, "after the early excitement," some
were beginning to wonder whether concrete policy responses
would follow. Merdeka Center's Suffian said that polls

KUALA LUMP 00000835 002 OF 002


consistently show that the Malaysian public's main foreign
policy interest is in Palestine. The plight of the
Palestinian people was an emotional issue for Malaysians, the
only foreign policy issue that many Malaysians cared about,
Jazlan added. NGO activist Josiah said not to underestimate
the hatred that many Malaysians feel toward Israel. Suffian
said news about Israel and Palestine comes largely from Arab
media sources, whereas most Malaysians don't believe CNN and
BBC reporting about the Middle East. He added that
Malaysians were quite interested in the USG's efforts to make
progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace and respected President
Obama for making a renewed effort.



7. (SBU) Turning to the U.S. role in Afghanistan, Suffian
said that educated Malaysians saw U.S. involvement there as
important for regional security; this contrasted with views
of Iraq operations as an unjustified occupation. Jazlan
added that some young Malaysians saw U.S. operations in
Afghanistan as anti-Muslim; it was important to educate them
and "pull them back into the mainstream." Santiago added
that Malaysians understood that Afghanistan and Pakistan
would only become more unstable if the U.S. were to withdraw.



8. (SBU) Jazlan said that he personally believed that Iran
was likely buying time until it could complete development of
nuclear weapons, so he understood the need for international
nonproliferation efforts. However, "because of Israel," any
U.S. action against Iran "would not be popular in Malaysia."
Dzulkifly disagreed with Jazlan's first point, saying that it
was clear to him that Iran was pursuing the peaceful use of
nuclear energy "and nothing beyond that." He argued that
U.S. moves against Iran would be seen as destabilizing a
now-stable situation.



9. (SBU) In reply to Deputy Steinberg's mention of
anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) efforts as a USG priority
that he spent considerable time on, Josiah said that the GOM
needed training on identifying victims, sheltering those
victims, and a focus on victim protection while trafficking
cases were being prepared, rather than rapid repatriation of
foreign victims. Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute CEO
Michael Yeoh, also a Commissioner on the Malaysian Human
Rights Commission, agreed that TIP capacity building
assistance was needed. Santiago added that he welcomed the
attention to Malaysia's trafficking problem, which he had
raised in Parliament, but that additional attention to
Malaysians trafficked out of Malaysia to Japan and Europe was
also needed.



10. (U) Deputy Secretary Steinberg cleared this message.
KEITH