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The Malaysian interenational trade and industry minsiter, Datin Seri Rafidah Aziz, excoriated those who wanted the Dato' Seri Anwar case discussed at the Apec summit in Kuala Lumpur later this month.  She was insistent that since Apec is an economics forum, political issues should not intrude.  The Apec heads of government should only discuss economic issues, which is what Apec is for.  Her response came when some heads of government, notably President Bill Clinton, President Estrada, President Habibie, Prime Minister John Howard, wanted to.  But she now says that Malaysian trade missions will from now on discuss politics to attract trade and investment, to explain the political conditions within which trade flourishes.  This woman has been in office for so long that she has lost sight of essentials.  She is in the ministry because of politics.  It has politics that has nurtured her to be a trade minister.  Apec could not have been formed if politics had not provided the framework. Malaysia did not trade with China or the communist countries in the distant past because of politics.  Trade, she should know by now, does not exist in isolation.

     The Anwar affair upsets her as it does other cabinet ministers who regularly meet their foreign counterparts.  The pleasantries
over and the question these days is on how the man who would be prime minister is now a man who would be a prisoner after being treated appallingly in detention.  Trade missions are asked intrusive questions like how did the former deputy prime minister get a black eye when detained under the Internal Security Act after solemn promises from the prime minister and the police chief that he is well treated.

     But what Datin Seri Rafidah says would turn international meetings on its head.  When heads of government meet on telecommunications or trade, they should not discuss politics or any issue outside their purview.  When business men and trade ministry officials meet to drum up trade and investment, then it is all right.  So long as the head of government and the trade mission is Malaysian;  foreigners still cannot, should not.  The problem with Rafidah is that her hatred for Dato' Seri Anwar is so ingrained, that she cannot understand why the man who would be convict should attract so much international attention, when such a proficient, hard worker of a trade minister as she who singlehandedly had saved the nation at international conferences cannot even get the international respect and publicity she thinks she deserves.  Having helped destroy the man, she finds it galling to explain why.  Why could not Dato' Seri Anwar be like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah or Tan Sri Musa Hitam or even Tun Ghafar Baha, who either kept quiet when defeated or blabbed their way to a paralytic brain?  This confusion in her brain makes her make stupid remarks.  Like many of her cabinet colleagues.

M.G.G. Pillai