Malaysia said Wednesday that Barack Obama's victory could mean less use of American force in solving world conflicts, and more respect for smaller nations.
"Malaysia... hopes Obama's government will be more sensitive to the sovereignty of smaller nations and will not use force in resolving global conflicts," Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said in a statement.
"Obama's victory is seen as bringing change and hope to the world," he added.
"Malaysia welcomes him as the new light in the struggle for democracy. As America's first black president his victory has shown that Americans can accept a leader regardless of colour, religion or beliefs."
Rais said that Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation, hoped the new administration would also pay greater attention to developing countries as well as to humanitarian and developmental issues.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy premier who was strongly backed by the United States after being sacked and jailed in 1998, said Obama would boost prospects for engagement between the US and Muslim countries.
"Some of the most contentious issues of our time, including the ongoing conflicts and confrontations in the Middle East, require a commitment to diplomacy, a willingness to engage in a meaningful dialogue and a departure from the aggressive unilateralism witnessed in recent years," he said.
"In this we anticipate that president-elect Obama will show leadership where previous administrations have failed."
Malaysia has been a long-term critic of the US intervention in Iraq, with former premier Mahathir Mohamad branding incumbent US President George Bush a "war criminal". -- Agence France-Presse - 11/5/2008 9:20 AM GMT
Anwar congratulates Obama, says we can learn from America
By Debra Chong and Shannon Teoh, m/insider
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 – Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim called Barack Obama's victory in the US elections a "phenomenon."
"I know it is not easy to say anything positive about America, at least not in Malaysia, particularly not the way the media has been portraying me," he said, referring to allegations that he is a stooge of the American government.
"But his strength – unlike Bush – is that he is prepared to engage. And this is very critical for the US," Anwar continued.
He was referring to outgoing US President George Bush's famous "You are either with us or against us" catchphrase.
"But this is a very healthy and welcome trend ... that you have a black and minority leading as an American and not as a black person. We should learn from this," he said at a press conference in Parliament today.
Anwar, however, added a caveat that he did not necessarily share the same foreign policy prescriptions as Obama.
"In fact, some of his views regarding the Middle East conflict are quite disturbing," the former Deputy Prime Minister stressed.
He also told reporters that he had written a congratulatory note to Obama and called on him to "act on the need to immediately engage with all quarters and to try first to withdraw from Iraq."
"I've great admiration for him personally. I believe Barack, at least, represents change in the US. He represents the face that is willing to engage and have a meaningful dialogue and serious conversations with various groups," he said.
"I have been in touch with him and I am really pleased that he and Senator Biden won."
Joe Biden was Obama's running mate and now America's new Vice President.
What seemed audacious and improbable before is now a reality. In Obama’s victory are sown the seeds of great expectations that a truly new chapter will be written in the history of the world.
Muslim nations will have cause to celebrate this triumph; it offers prospects for genuine dialogue and engagement and should witness the politics of diplomacy supplant the politics of war and the theology of terror. Other nations traditionally at loggerheads with America may find reason to reciprocate to a more balanced approach.
—By Anwar Ibrahim
Former Deputy Prime Minister
His full PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Tahniah Kepada Perubahan!