(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his government are clearly very disappointed about the American presidential election stand-off and that the earlier belief that Al Gore had been defeated by George Bush had not yet come true - as reflected by the unusual outburst by the Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim against the American system of elections.
Mahathir said four days before the United States presidential elections that Malaysian-US relations are likely to suffer if Democratic candidate Al Gore becomes president, and his disappointment is understandable that Al Gore has not been completely ruled out of the presidential race, with the results not expected until November 17 or even later.
Mahathir will be greatly mistaken however if he thinks that a Bush presidency would make any fundamental difference in United States foreign policy or that Malaysia will get better international assessments or scrutiny on subjects like human rights and the rule of law.
In fact, the damning 2001 Index of Economic Freedom released in Hong Kong last week where Malaysia dropped 57 places in the past six years from the 18th position in the 1995 index to the 75th position in the 2001 Index and slipped from "mostly free" to "mostly unfree" category was the work of a conservative, pro-Republican and pro-Bush think-tank, the Heritage Foundation.
Some of the major factors why Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal, the other sponsor of the index, ranked Malaysia at 75th position in the 2001 Index as compared to No. 18th position in 1995 and slipped from "mostly free" to "mostly unfree" category are the multiple crisis of confidence surrounding the judiciary, the rule of law and the integrity of government.
Probably, the only difference between a Bush or Gore Presidency to Mahathir
is whether he could visit the White House for the next four
years as Malaysian Prime Minister.