- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2000

Insider story

After 31 years in the U.S. diplomatic service, John R. Malott is finally telling an insider story and it's a blockbuster.
Mr. Malott, former ambassador to Malaysia, reveals how he foiled an attempt by officials of the authoritarian Malaysian government to accuse the country's leading opposition figure of being a CIA spy.
Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, was already in enough trouble when Mr. Malott first heard the spy rumors two years ago. Anwar was being accused of corruption at the time. He was convicted last year and sentenced to six years in prison. Last month, he was sentenced to an additional nine years on a sodomy conviction.
Anwar has insisted he is not guilty on all charges, which he says were politically motivated by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, who has ruled Malaysia for 19 years.
Mr. Malott, writing in the Internet newspaper www.Malasiakini.com, noted that the rumors started after Anwar visited the Pentagon in April 1998 and received a 19-gun salute. That was routine diplomatic courtesy for a visiting deputy prime minister, but political enemies in Malaysia started circulating rumors that the Pentagon reception meant Anwar was an American spy.
Before Anwar was arrested on corruption charges in September 1998, Mr. Malott learned that police were planning to accuse Anwar of espionage.
"At that point, I went to a very senior official in the Malaysian government and told him officially, on behalf of my government, that Anwar was not a CIA agent," Mr. Malott wrote.
"And if the Malaysian government arrested Anwar and claimed that he was an American agent, we would immediately issue a denial of the strongest order and challenge the Malaysian government to offer any proof to the contrary.
"And I bluntly told that individual, who is still in a very high position in the Malaysian government today, that they would be embarrassed because they never would be able to offer any proof to the contrary because it does not exist.
"I then continued, 'You might have your internal political differences with Anwar. But if you make a false claim against the U.S., namely, that we have interfered in your internal affairs, and say that someone in your government is an American agent, then you are involving the U.S., and we will expose it for the lie it is.'
"He [the official] squirmed in his chair."
Malaysia never publicly accused Anwar of espionage.
Mr. Malott, who served in Malaysia from 1995 through 1998, called his account the "first personal insider story I have ever told [in] 31 years in the diplomatic service.
Mr. Malott retired last year.

Southern summit

One of the best accomplishments of last week's South American summit was bringing the 12 presidents of the continent together for the first time.
"It was historic because it was the first one in 200 years of independent life in South America," said Brazilian Ambassador Rubens Barbosa, whose country hosted the two-day summit that began Thursday.
"The importance of the meeting is the novelty in itself," he told reporters at the National Press Club in a summit briefing Friday.
"It's the first time. Just this is important. In foreign affairs, in politics, sometimes the very fact that it happens makes the fact important, and this is the case of this meeting."
Mr. Barbosa said the presidents adopted a summit communique that calls for increasing security, strengthening democracy and human rights, fighting drug smuggling and other crimes, and promoting trade, investment, science and technology.
He said the presidents agreed that all of the countries must maintain a healthy democracy.
"The rule of law will be a precondition for participation in future meetings," Mr. Barbosa said. "Countries should be seen by their neighbors to be democratic. That is a very specific, concrete item, not just rhetoric."
The presidents did not criticize any countries by name, despite concerns that democracy is at risk in a few of them.
However, Mr. Barbosa said, the summit communique "sends a pretty clear message to all countries in the region … on the strengthening of democracy … of political parties [and] … of the judiciary."

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