Wednesday February 22, 2017
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Erna Mahyuni

Erna tweets too much on @ernamh. Angry Sabah native, slave to her dog/cat and blogs at ernamahyuni.com

FEBRUARY 22 ― I used to find it off-putting when right-leaning people on the Internet would use terms such as “libtards”, implying that liberals were stupid.

Sad to say, there truly is a lot of stupidity among liberals. I’ve had to take a month’s break from Twitter as the intolerable display of abject stupidity from this group has annoyed me greatly.

Malaysian liberals seem to be very confused. On one hand, they champion human rights and justice, while displaying ignorance, naivete and champion views that smack of privilege.

The latest trend I see among local liberals is saying we must put Malaysian issues first before even deigning to comment on international affairs.

“You know, that’s how fascism started,” a friend of mine told me over a banana leaf meal.

The rise of populism and leaders calling for an inward focus, putting their own countries first — everything else be damned — feels as though modern society has dialled back all the years we have fought to stave off fascism and authoritarianism.

What Donald Trump is doing, promoting an America First agenda is not pragmatic nor is it ideal. The Pandora box of globalism has been opened -- we cannot close it now. Our fates are now all intertwined and it is no longer about a race to become the most prosperous; the agenda should really be about creating prosperity for all.

If Donald Trump, for instance, thinks that the US must address deficits with countries like ours by demanding we reciprocate, that would be undoable. Of course the US buys more from us, because the value of its currency gives it more purchasing power but conversely, it means we cannot afford to import as much from the US as they can from us.

I am not in favour of an unchecked free market — I believe in regulations and in the case of severely disadvantaged countries, I can understand the need for protectionism. What seems to be happening, under a US president with a poor understanding of foreign relations and economics, is the likelihood of the US attempting to bully other nations into capitulating to their demands.

Trade negotiations, the best ones, are not supposed to favour one nation over another. It shouldn’t be about “losers” or “winning bigly” but about reaching equitable agreements that would benefit both parties, the sharing and creation of prosperity not the beggaring of one party for the benefit of the other.

Looking out for your own interests doesn’t preclude taking an interest in global affairs or contributing to global well-being. It’s not about having a bleeding heart — it’s about pragmatism. Prosperity can only flourish in peace (unless you’re a warmonger) and helping your neighbours achieve wealth and stability, means in future they could participate in the global economy as potential markets.

You don’t have to have a big heart or a sharp mind to understand this: a world of stability and prosperity for all is an ideal worth fighting for. Because as we’ve seen — war and suffering cause ripples that will affect us down the line, if you could just see the bigger picture.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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