Anwar bans Israeli ships but Malaysia-Israel billion-dollar trades will continue

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Even though Malaysia does not have diplomatic ties with Israel, both countries have been engaged in trades worth billions of dollars for the last 28 years.

Still trying very hard to convince Malay-Muslim voters that he is the biggest Palestinian champion (or the loudest Jewish critic), Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has slapped a sanction on all Israeli-owned and flagged ships from docking at the country’s sea terminals. In addition, any vessels headed to Israel will also be banned from loading cargo at Malaysian ports.

The Prime Minister’s Office proudly announced – “This sanction is a response to Israel’s actions that disregard the basic humanitarian principles and violate international law through the ongoing massacre and continuous cruelty against the Palestinian people.” Yeah, right, as if Singapore – crowned the “Best Global Seaport” – is half a world away.

The first casualty was Israel-based ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd, which had been authorized to dock its vessels at Malaysian ports since 2002 under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, supposedly a Jewish hater (or at least pretended to hate Israel in order to win Malay Muslim votes). PM Anwar said Malaysia was confident its trade would not be affected by the decision.

Obviously, it was a strategic move to not only beg conservative Malays to believe that Anwar is indeed an international Muslim hero but also to embarrass Mahathir, and other prime ministers for that matter, for allowing Israeli ships to enter the country for so many years. Mahathir quickly explained that he thought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be resolved peacefully.

Even though Malaysia does not have diplomatic ties with Israel, both countries have been engaged in trades worth billions of dollars for the last 28 years. According to the United Nations Comtrade Database, Israel’s imports from Malaysia hit an all-time high in 2018 at US$304 million. Israel’s exports to Malaysia, meanwhile, recorded the highest trade in 2013 with US$1.46 billion.

The main products that Malaysia exported to Israel were rubber apparel, organic chemicals, furniture, oil and cleavage products. Israel exported to Malaysia included integrated circuits, medical apparatus, scrap aluminium, liquid dispersing machines, mineral fuels and machinery. The 2022 exports from Israel to Malaysia a dramatic sevenfold increase compared to the previous year.

Interestingly, Malaysia’s foreign trade figures did not specifically mention Israel for obvious reasons. Instead, the country’s trade with Israel was hidden under “Other Countries”. This is how the trade was kept secret since 1995, during which Anwar Ibrahim was the 7th Deputy Prime Minister (Dec 1993 to Sept 1998) as well as Finance Minister (1991-1998), before he was sacked by Mahathir for sodomy.

So, Anwar is as guilty as Dr Mahathir in scamming gullible Malays into believing that they were the heroes of the Palestinians. As the powerful finance minister, how could Anwar not know about Malaysia’s trade with Israel? In the same breath, how could former PMs like Najib Razak, Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri claim to be Muslim defenders when they had continued to trade with Israel?

Anwar’s decision to block Israeli merchant ships from docking at any Malaysian port is largely symbolic, not to mention laughable. Israeli cargo ships can always go to Singapore, profiting the neighbouring country instead. Malaysia’s loss is Singapore’s gain. But Malaysia has principles and was more willing to sacrifice trade than to trade with the barbarian Jewish people, says Anwar.

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Is that so? Taking a page from the North Korean playbook, ships can easily change their flag from the Israeli flag to another country’s flag, like Panama, when they approach Malaysian water and voila, the clueless and incompetent Malaysian authorities will allow the ships disguised as non-Israeli vessels to proceed or unload at Malaysian ports – incredibly easy peasy.

Unknown to many, Anwar said Malaysia was confident its trade would not be affected because he knew that the billion-dollar trade between both nations would continue. For example, US-based Intel has a plant churning out computer chips in Israel. The plant in Kiryat Gat exports those chips to a second assembly plant in Malaysia. Will he dare to ban Intel or shut down local plants?

Even if Anwar has gone extreme and mad, there are many ways to continue exporting and importing from Israel. In truth, Israel does a lot of trade with many countries that it does not have formal diplomatic relations with. The easiest way is to go through third countries like China, Japan and the United States that operate in Malaysia but have links with Israel.

Malaysia has no control over who China will sell to when Malaysian products arrive on Chinese soil. Likewise, it would be hard to trace the origin of goods that are being imported from the United States. That was how Russian oil and gas were repackaged as Chinese or Indian commodities before being exported to European countries during the Ukraine War.

The economy of Israel is a highly developed free-market economy. Its GDP hit an all-time high of US$522.03 billion in 2022 compared to Malaysia’s US$406.31 billion. In fact, Israel has direct trade with Saudi Arabia and even Yemen because unlike silly Malaysia, mature countries do not mix business with politics. To trade with hostile states, Israel goes through Cyprus, Turkey and Jordan.

While Israel sees commerce as a stepping stone that can lead to more cooperation with hostile states, Malaysia thinks trade can be used as a tool to threaten hostile states. Did Anwar know that prior to the Israel-Hamas War, the Israeli government and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had already been negotiating undisclosed trade deals to the tune of US$45 billion?

The best part is, despite the Malaysian leader’s huffing and puffing about championing the Palestinian cause, the conservative Malay Muslims refused to believe him – judging from the Kemaman by-election results. Hilariously, despite Anwar Ibrahim’s wishful thinking to be given a seat at the table in the Muslim world, none of the Arab leaders gave a damn about his efforts.

Despite having pledged RM100 million for Hamas-Palestinian, not to mention his extensive travelling and engagement with several Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) leaders on the Palestinian issue – including meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Jordan’s King Abdullah II – Anwar was not given the due recognition he desperately desired.

Yes, during a photo session with the leaders of the OIC countries at the 8th OIC Emergency Summit Media Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, PM Anwar was bumped to behind, where the first row was reserved for leaders from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, the PLO and even Syria. It shows he was not appreciated because the entire Arab world despised Hamas terrorists.

Of course, the Arabs knew Anwar’s political reason for supporting Palestinians. But they were more suspicious of his support for Hamas, which like ABIM (Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia) that was co-founded by Anwar, was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. And he foolishly bragged about his phone conversation with Hamas’ political bureau Ismail Haniyeh.

If Anwar is serious about teaching Israel a lesson, he should stop doing something as childish and useless as banning Israeli ships. If he has the balls, he should ban products or companies linked directly to the Jews – Baskin Robbins, Dunkin’ Donuts, Estee Lauder, Haagen Dazs, Goldman Sachs, Oracle, Dell, Toys “R” Us, Warner Bros Pictures, Calvin Klein, Levis, Barbie, Dreamworks, Starbucks, Apple, Facebook and of course, Google, just to name a few.

Selectively targeting Israeli shipping companies, but happily using Jewish inventions scream hypocrisy of the highest order, no? ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd actually has its regional office in Singapore, ready to unload cargo in the tiny dot before entering Malaysia at a higher cost. Anwar should spend more time boosting the economy, not destroying it with unproductive obsession. – Finance Twitter