Should we be worried about Malaysia?

Map of Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (...Image via Wikipedia

There seems to be a pattern of troubling connections between Anwar Ibrahim, the rising politician who is seeking to unseat the ruling party, and terrorists. The World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the International Institute of Islamic Thought are just two examples. And then there is the prospect of Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) as a defining part of a Malaysian ruling coalition.

One of the first things that Anwar did after being released from prison in 2005 was attend meetings in Turkey with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his advisor Ahmet Davatoglu at the behest of their Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalk?nma Partisi, or AKP). Anwar’s pro-Malay, Islamacist rhetoric has been previously covered here, but relationships with like-minded individuals must be noted as well. Only a month ago, Erdogan and the AKP vary narrowly avoided dissolution in a split-vote constitutional court ruling that found that Turkish secularist principles had not been violated.

But secularists within Turkey remain unconvinced.

In spite of Turkey’s strides towards westernization and the possibility of EU membership, the AKP is a protagonist of ethnic and religious derision. Erogan’s advisor, Ahmet Davutoglu provides a basis for this concern as a concept of governance. Davutglu writes: “The world is composed of cultural blocs, and Turkey falls into the ‘Muslim bloc.'”

From the US perspective, Turkey under Erdogan has proven to be a difficult strategic partner in the war on terror. Does the condition of the US relationship with Turkey foreshadow a decline in the US-Malaysia relationship under Anwar?

We already know that Anwar perceives Malaysia to fall within the “Muslim bloc.” And so, in the context of the war on terror, the US must question what ground will be lost as Anwar pushes Malaysia closer to Sharia and farther from the West.

So I ask: should we be worried?