Skip to main content

Originally posted here.

MH370 has gripped the imagination of the world, knocking the Crimea and Venezuela off TV screens and fostering wide-spread international speculation, as well as a search that now involves twenty-six nations. But what does the continuing saga mean for Southeast Asian politics, a fractious affair at the very best of times?

The most obvious source of international friction over MH370 is — not surprisingly — between Malaysia and China. Out of the Beijing-bound jet’s 239 passengers, 152 were Chinese, giving China a particularly stake in the political game.

China and Malaysia do massive amounts of business together, with China as Malaysia’s top trading partner, and increasingly prosperous (if inequal) Malaysia serving as China’s third-largest Asian market. An October 2013 “comprehensive strategic partnership” between the two nations hopes to bump bilateral trade to a healthy $160 million by 2017.

Malaysia is home to a considerable population of ethnic Chinese, representing 24.6% of the total population of 28.3 million, per a 2011 census. Political policies favor the Muslim Malay majority and work to keep Chinese and Indian political hopefuls out of government jobs, a state of affairs that increasingly sits poorly with largely urban minority groups.

The Malaysian government’s continuing failure to locate the jet, as well as it’s less than inspiring attempts to placate grieving family members, are likely to do little to improve the deeply important relationship between China’s leadership and their Malaysian counterparts.

Certainly, many Malaysian business leaders dependent on international trade and warm foreign relations are hoping that a resolution to this long, embarrassing nightmare will be forthcoming soon.

Indonesia has also come into conflict with Malaysia over the missing and highly public jet, deciding on March 18th not to give clearance for three countries to fly six foreign flights over its airspace. The planes remained on the ground in Malaysia, while Indonesian officials claimed that they required clearance from three different governmental agencies to permit the aerial search to continue.

Thailand, too, has received some regional flak for waiting so long to divulge its own radar knowledge of the progress of MH370. Thailand waited ten days to release radar data that may have showed the mystery flight just prior to its communications shutdown.
Thai leaders claimed that they didn’t offer the information because Malaysia hadn’t bothered to ask, raising eyebrows across the region.Numerous observers noted that the information about the flight’s likely path over the Straits of Malacca might have proved exponentially more useful when the plane FIRST went missing.

Vietnam, for its part, has conducted itself undramatically, lending a hand to the continuing hunt in conjunction with other nations. It now looks unlikely that MH370 crashed over Vietnamese airspace or over land as was first suspected, instead heading towards the Straits of Malacca. It’s a revelation that has doubtlessly relieved Vietnamese leadership.

Finally, politics within Malaysia itself are being stained by the continuing hunt, as disgruntled Malaysians claim that the rest of the world now can see for themselves the dysfunction of the Southeast Asian nations leadership — and its lack of accountability and organization when things go wrong.

One thing is clear: everyone in the region desperately wants the plane to be found, before tensions over an errant jet and a highly-scrutinized international incident intensify. The regional failure to communicate and disagreement over how best to handle the MH370 disappearance reflects a deeply fractious relations between many ASEAN’s members.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting read. (10+ / 0-)

    Tell Warner Brothers Pictures that Rooney Mara is #NotYourTigerLily.

    by ExpatGirl on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 09:33:44 AM PDT

  •  The Chinese Diaspora (4+ / 0-)

    Chinese have been emigrating to Malaysia since before Columbus landed in the West Indies.

    Malaysians of Chinese descent control 70% of Malaysia's economy and make up 90% of its national income tax base.  60% of Malaysia's national income comes from Malaysian Chinese.

    Unlike America's great ally, Indonesia's General Suharto, the Malaysian government never committed genocide against its Chinese citizens.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 10:03:14 AM PDT

    •  What I heard from my Malaysian friends (0+ / 0-)

      about their homeland: it sounds a lot like where America is heading if we are not vigilant. Some of the stunts their ruling party pulls against their political opponents scream of the repub's dirty tricks. They are nowhere near as bad as Stalinist Russia but they don't have the right to stage protests either.

      Malaysia does have a lot of good people who care deeply about the future of their country and all its citizens. I understand some are even of royal blood. No one can touch them. These people are trying mightily to clean up their government.

      I don't know if graft is prosecuted and punished over there. An old Malaysian acquaintance said it is common among elected officials.

      One woman makes a din, two women a lot of trouble, three an annual market, four a quarrel, five an army, and against six the Devil himself has no weapon. -- Dutch proverb

      by Ice Blue on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 12:22:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Recent hopes for new sighting claims off Austraila (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, PeteZerria, worldlotus

    bring new tensions.

    In the Australian hierarchy, "Malaysia has the primary claim on this because it's their plane," said an official, "then China because of the number of Chinese passengers, then the US because it's a Boeing."

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/...

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 10:16:18 AM PDT

  •  agreed, it shows ASEAN as a weak farce. nt (0+ / 0-)
    Thailand, too, has received some regional flak for waiting so long to divulge its own radar knowledge of the progress of MH370. Thailand waited ten days ... the information about the flight’s likely path over the Straits of Malacca might have proved exponentially more useful when the plane FIRST went missing.

    the rest of the world now can see for themselves the dysfunction of [Malaysia's] leadership — and its lack of accountability and organization when things go wrong.

    One hopes there would be an accounting of all the errors when this is all over -- but even that might be too optimistic. (If Thailand tracked the flight as it flew west, and said nothing, it raises lots of questions. Among them, could the flight have been tracked and approached while still in flight?)

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site