Sep 29, 2012

Plot to Destabilize Govt ! And Then?

NST recently through its report’s title “Plot to Destabilize Govt”, had alluded to the foreign monetary supports in several local NGOs, are for the purpose to intervene Malaysia’s politic, as well as aim to destabilize the government.  The article highlighted the possible outcomes of foreign funding to the local political stability, and trying to link the "Arab Spring" as well as the rebels in Russia with the foreign funding.

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"Arab Spring" or "Arab Revolution" 

As refer to Wikipedia, "the main factors that encouraged Arabian to risk their lives to protest were including dictatorship, human rights violations, government corruption, economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty, etc."  

Is it NST trying to characterizing Malaysia with Arabian countries and describe the local political environment with the above stated factors?  I think at this point, not only the NGOs, but BN government should demand explanation from NST as well.

The National Endowment for Democracy's (NED) Funding

The NST’s article further stated several NGOs, namely BERSIH, Merdeka Center for Opinion Research, Lawyers for Liberty, Liberal Bantar Sdn Bhd, and International Republican Institute began to receive funds from National Endowment for Democracy (NED), yet claimed NED to have “played a significant role in attempting to destabilize legitimate governments and replace them with client proxies”.

According to the NED’s website, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit foundation that contributing annually to more than 1000 grants of abroad (non-U.S.) NGOs projects in more than 90 countries for democratic goals. NED’s own funding is largely by the U.S Congress, which intended to support abroad (non-U.S.) groups to work for freedom and human rights, often in obscurity and isolation.

In order to support the claim that NED is an organization that "played significant role in attempting to destabilizing legitimate governments", NST should report the way how NED had played such role, and  in what NGOs or projects were able to "destabilize legitimate governments" in more than 90 countries. Since that NED had contributed to the projects in nearly half of the globe’s total nations, it will be better for NST to show a list of nations, in which the so-called “client proxies” had been successfully created by NED, to replace their original "legitimate governments".  

Besides, the NST’s article were also came with a detailed chart that listed SUARAM’s foreign funders, with on top National Endowment for Democracy (United States) [RM1,642,450 : 2005-2011], followed by Open Society Institute (United States) [RM774,000 : 2008-2011], Southeast Asia Centre for e-Media (Kuala Lumpur) [RM34,000 : 2010-2011], and German Embassy [RM21,400 :2010]. Yet, trying to convince that SUARAM has been heavily funded by foreigners, and possibly the hidden motive might not be simply to support human rights activities.

The German Embassy's Position

Kathrin Heidl, who is the Head of the Cultural and Press Department from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, had stressed the Germen Embassy’s position on this matter:

“Over many years the German Embassy has supported a large number of projects in all parts of Malaysia, working mostly with Malaysian civil society organizations.  These ventures include small scale development, livelihood, educational and cultural, as well as human rights projects. They are mostly targeted at disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. Since the Embassy does not provide institutional funding, all projects are supported on an individual based.”

Since that German Embassy does not provide Institutional Funding, why NST listed German Embassy in that way? Why NST did not list out in which projects within SUARAM had been funded by German Embassy?  Is it because of NST does not know that German Embassy does contributing to nearly all parts of Malaysia?

German Embassy is not just an ordinary organization, but it is an icon of the Federal Republic of Germany. By listed German Embassy as one of the many possible foreign entities to the so called “Plot” had definitely upsetting the reputation of German Embassy, as well as hurting Germans’ feeling. NST should apologies to German Embassy in timely manner, as the report might because an issue to agitate the Malaysia-Germany’s Relationship.

The Open Society Foundation's Respond

 Kritika Bansal, from the Open Society Foundations’ office of communications had also responded:

“The Open Society Foundations work with local communities in more than 100 countries to support justice and fundamental rights, access to public health, and education. We are proud of our grant-making in Malaysia, as we are of our work in Africa, Haiti, Europe, and across the globe to encourage the promise of vibrant and tolerant democracies, where governments are accountable to their citizens. We rely on local civil society organizations to advise us on the best ways to remedy poverty, improve education, encourage a free press, and promote other pressing open society issues. The foundations host an open call for grant proposals from Southeast Asia twice a year and we encourage groups to apply.”

As mentioned by Kritika Bansal, the foundation relies on local civil society organizations to advise them on the best ways to promote open society issues, and the foundations host open call for grant proposals twice a year for Southeast Asia. In other words, the foundation does not involve directly to the local NGOs’ activities, and passive funding procedure has been applied. The foundation only initiating call for grant proposals, and it is open to local NGOs to apply. So, does NST actually obtained any grant proposal from the stated NGOs, which did listed activities to destabilize current government? 

In addition, if NST feel that is it not appropriate to accept grant from a foundation setup by maverick currency speculator George Soros, yet I would like to suggest NST to follow-up reporting an article titled “ Dr.M asked for Soros’ help in peace project” published in on 26th September 2012.  

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