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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia can be a model for the world as it is a Muslim country that embraces free enterprise, freedom and democracy, said United States Senator John McCain yesterday.
The ranking member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee was particularly impressed with the country’s “amazing” economic
McCain, the Republican candidate who lost to President Barack Obama in the 2008 US presidential elections, was also taken up by the political and social development in Malaysia.
“We are impressed by the entrepreneurship, the free enterprise system and the economic success here,” he said.
The plaudits came at a press conference organised by the US embassy at the tail end of a visit to the country by McCain and fellow member of the US senate, Joseph Lieberman.
McCain said he and Lieberman, an independent Democrat who was the Democratic candidate for the vice-presidency in 2000, had met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, business and civil society leaders and members of the opposition.
He said they discussed a variety of issues with Najib, including bilateral trade and US support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and continued defence cooperation and exchanges between the two armed forces.
He said they also spoke about the issue of China in relation to the South China Sea, agreeing that the matter should be resolved through multi-lateral negotiations and not on a one-on-one approach currently being adopted by China.
McCain said they also discussed the forthcoming general election with Najib, adding that he (McCain) looked forward to free and fair elections.
“We know that there are a number of issues surrounding the elections that are now being debated by the opposition and the government,” he said, adding that he encouraged such dialogue across the political divide.
To a question on how the US could counter-balance China’s increasing influence in the South China Sea, he said the US could deploy troops on a temporary basis in specific countries in the area like it did through joint exercises with Australia.
“But I want to emphasise that we do not envision confrontation with China (in the future),” adding that the US looked forward to strengthening military, economic and political ties with countries like Malaysia.
Lieberman, chairman of the US Homeland Security Committee, underlined the point that the Malaysian government was on the road to reform, adding that the bilateral relationship between the two countries had improved in recent years under the Najib administration.
On elections here, he said the Election Commission’s allowing of independent observers to monitor elections was a significant and constructive step forward, adding that he hoped that international monitors would be allowed in, too.
“I am encouraged to believe after our discussions with the government yesterday that this might well be possible.”
The senators, as guests of the Raja Muda Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, attended a dinner on Wednesday organised by the Kuala Lumpur Business Club. Their next stop is the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.