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TEMUBUAL HASMY BIN AGAM DI NEW YORK

MARGARET WARNER: Good evening.

   HASMY BIN AGAM: Well, I have many words to describe our reaction to the utterance by Vice
  President Al Gore. What he presented was outrageous and utterly disappointing. By uttering those
  words, he has breached one of the ethical rules of human conduct, human behavior, that is, you do
  not go out of your way to insult your host; even in private it is objectionable - but to do it in public, in
  front of everybody else, a lot of people and in front of the host himself, I think it raises questions about

                                            the wisdom and the appropriateness of such words. We
                                             understand if it is said in private, in confidence, in private,
                                             we can understand and perhaps take it in that
                                             perspective, but to do it in public I think is something that
                                             most Malaysians, except for those who are
                                             demonstrating in the streets, utterly object.

                                             MARGARET WARNER: Let me get the
                                             Congressman's reaction to that. Do you think it was
                                             ill-advised, Congressman, for him to say this in public?

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS, (D) New Jersey: I am
                                             very proud of what Vice President Gore did. I don't think
                                             he was rude. I think he was courageous. And I think we
                                             should never elevate the rules of courtesy over human
                                             rights. Mr. Anwar is in prison tonight. I believe he's in
                                             prison because he had the courage to speak his
                                             convictions. And I'm proud we had a Vice President who
                                             said that yesterday.

                                             An Asian aparheid?
 
                                             MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Ambassador, the leaders
                                             of many other countries right in your region have also
                                             been critical of the arrest of Mr. Anwar, I mean, the
                                             leaders of Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea. Did
                                             you find that - that criticism equally offensive, or was it
                                             coming from the United States that made it particularly
                                             unwelcome?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: Well, we have raised our
                                             disappointment at some of these statements made.

                                             MARGARET WARNER: By other governments, you
                                             mean?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: By the other governments. And
                                             they have - after seeing the whole situation in the country
                                             and the nature of the cases have been made against the
                                             former deputy prime minister, they have come to
                                             appreciate the special - and I think that it has turned
                                             down whatever presentation they might have made. I
                                             mean, this is to be expected by our neighbors, who
                                             understand the situation much better, but we would also
                                             have expected the United States - presumably a friendly
                                             country to Malaysia - to have at least tried to see things
                                             in perspective. Here, I think the United States' mission -
                                             had not advised Washington as to the actual real nature
                                             of the situation and on the ground.

                                             MARGARET WARNER: Congressman.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS:
                                             Yes. I think it's important
                                             Americans know the facts. In
                                             early September of this year
                                             Mr. Anwar, who was involved
                                             in the government, was
                                             arrested. He was arrested on
                                             charges under a law that we
                                             would find unbelievable in this
                                             country, that he was a threat to the Malaysian state. He's
                                             been in prison ever since then. He was beaten. When he
                                             appeared for his trial, there was absolute evidence of
                                             physical abuse that he was beaten when this took place.
                                             We don't understand that, and we don't think that's a
                                             matter of economics or diplomacy. We think that's a
                                             matter of human rights. This reminds me of the dialogue
                                             that took place about Nelson Mandela in South Africa a
                                             few years ago. We were called rude and impolite and
                                             impertinent for pointing out the fact that we thought it
                                             was wrong that someone could be imprisoned for
                                             speaking his political beliefs. I'm proud that our country
                                             belatedly took a stand against apartheid, and I'm proud
                                             that we took a stand against this violation of human rights
                                             yesterday.

                                             MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Ambassador, was Mr.
                                             Anwar arrested, in part, because of his beliefs? In other
                                             words, I think people understand perhaps why he was
                                             fired, if he was the finance minister and the president -
                                             the prime minister didn't support his policies and vice
                                             versa. But why also arrest him and have him go through
                                             what the congressman has just laid out?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: Could I just take exception to
                                             remarks by Congressman? I think it's -

                                             MARGARET WARNER: Please do.

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: You shouldn't compare the
                                             situation in Malaysia to apartheid. I mean, it's a gross,
                                             disproportionate what you call it - comparison of
                                             situations. Malaysia was against apartheid, was a leader
                                             among those countries that fought for apartheid. And I
                                             find it utterly objectionable to put the two together.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: Mr. Ambassador, what is
                                             Mr. Anwar's crime? What has he been accused of
                                             doing?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: Well, as you know, if you have
                                             not read the report, then I'm afraid you're ignorant of the
                                             situation in Malaysia.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: No. I've read it. What's he
                                             accused of doing?

                                                                HASMY BIN AGAM: He's
                                                                been accused of ten charges.
                                                                One is now appearing in court,
                                                                the initial couple of charges --
                                                                One is abuse of his power
                                                                when he was deputy prime
                                                                minister. He has tried to
                                                                tamper - to tamper the

                                             witnesses, you know, relating to one case involving
                                             corruption - of his private secretary. He tried to interfere
                                             with the anti-corruption agency's investigation of that
                                             allegation. And then the other charges led to tampering of
                                             witnesses, trying to get two people who made testimony
                                             or testified - made accusations against the deputy - the
                                             former deputy prime minister. He tried to retract their
                                             statements.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: Mr. Ambassador, if I may,
                                             is it common practice in Malaysia to hold someone in
                                             prison without bail for these kind of nonviolent offenses,
                                             or are people held without bail commonly?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: Well, he was first what you call
                                             arrested under the international security for inciting public
                                             disorder. That is why he was detained.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: Much like Mr. Mandela in
                                             South Africa.

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: But Mandela was fighting for
                                             freedom of his country. Malaysia is a free country. I
                                             invite you to come to Malaysia and see for yourself.

                                                               REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: I
                                                               guess -- why isn't Mr. Anwar
                                                               free pending the disposition of
                                                               his trial? Why is he in prison?

                                                               HASMY BIN AGAM:
                                                               Because he is reported to be
                                                               tampering with witnesses to the
                                                               cases involved -involving him.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: So in your country if
                                             someone is accused of witness tampering, they're held
                                             without bail before their trial -- is that common place?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: I don't know, but the particular -
                                             the legal arguments used by - in court - I'm afraid I
                                             cannot answer the precise --

 
                                             The reform quesiton
 
                                             MARGARET WARNER: All
                                             right, gentlemen. Let me jump
                                             in here just for a minute. Mr.
                                             Ambassador, we understand
                                             your view about the place and
                                             timing of the Vice President's
                                             remarks, but how about the
                                             substance? His essential point
                                             was you can't really have
                                             economic prosperity in a 21st century economy, a global
                                             economy, without political freedom. Is that criticism on
                                             point, or is that observation on point, do you think for
                                             Malaysia?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: I think Mr. Al Gore must have
                                             missed the point here. Malaysia enjoys political freedom.
                                             There are political parties. We have elections every four
                                             or five years without fail. There has been no strict - there
                                             will be no crackdown by military coups or things like that.
                                             This is a country of law and order.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: If I may ask a question --

                                             MARGARET WARNER: Congressman, do let him
                                             finish.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: Sure. Okay.

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: This is a country of law and
                                             order, and for Mr. Al Gore to come there and take the
                                             side of a couple of demonstrators, a few hundred,
                                             perhaps a few thousand even, you are allying yourself,
                                             the superpower, the United States is allying itself to the -
                                             what do you call - the powers of street demonstrations,
                                             as opposed to the rule of law and order. It is utterly
                                             disappointing.

                                             MARGARET WARNER: Congressman.

                                                                 REP. ROBERT
                                                                 ANDREWS: Do
                                                                 demonstrators have to get a
                                                                 permit, Mr. Ambassador, to
                                                                 have these kind of
                                                                 demonstrations in Malaysia?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: No. In Malaysia, as in many
                                             countries, to demonstrate you have to have a permit.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: And who's in charge of
                                             giving the permit?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: The permit is given by the police.
                                             The police is in charge of this.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: I would simply say that in
                                             this country if a group of our citizens felt that we were
                                             doing something wrong here, they could assemble on the
                                             grounds of our capitol and as long as they complied with
                                             the public safety laws, they could say whatever they
                                             wanted to. Why can't they do that in Malaysia?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: Well, I appreciate that. You're
                                             talking about the United States. You aren't talking about
                                             Malaysia. Malaysia has a certain - has its own laws -
                                             which have evolved through our own experience. Ours is
                                             a multiracial society.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: So are we.

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: With very tenuous kind of mix of
                                             politics and economics.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: So are we.

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: So we have these laws which
                                             have evolved.
 
 
                                             Are elections the answer?
 
 
                                             MARGARET WARNER: Congressman - I mean, Mr.
                                             Ambassador, let me ask you in the little time we have
                                             left, one, what impact do you think Vice President Gore's
                                             remarks will have, and, two, do you think we're going to
                                             see political change in Malaysia? Do you think perhaps
                                             even that Prime Minister Mahthir - do you think he's
                                             going to be able to stay in power?

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: Well,
                                             we have, as I said just now,
                                             elections very regularly, every
                                             four or five years. The next
                                             election is coming up around
                                             the year 2000. This way
                                             people can voice their opinion,
                                             whether they support the
                                             prime minister or not. As far as we are concerned, there
                                             is overwhelming support for the prime minister. We will
                                             see at the next election whether this support continues.
                                             And I'm sure, as far as I'm concerned - I've just come
                                             back from Malaysia, myself, the support is very strong.

                                             MARGARET WARNER: Congressman, do you want to
                                             hazard a prediction on where you think things are going in
                                             Malaysia?

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: I wouldn't give a
                                             prediction, but I'd give a challenge. Malaysia's credibility
                                             is on the line tonight. Why doesn't the prime minister
                                             release Mr. Anwar from prison, let him stand for trial as
                                             a free man, and show them all that the Malaysia
                                             government is not afraid of free debate, as the
                                             Ambassador just said? Why doesn't Mr. Mahathir
                                             release Mr. Anwar from prison?

                                             MARGARET WARNER: All right, gentlemen. I have to
                                             leave it there. Thank you very much.

                                             REP. ROBERT ANDREWS: Thank you.

                                             HASMY BIN AGAM: Thank you.