BRICS announcement coinciding Chinese premier’s visit not an accident

The announcement to join international organisation BRICS just prior to Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s visit to Malaysia is no accident, said academic Dr Ong Kian Ming.

“I think this is something that’s quite consistent with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s idea of balancing right between the East and the West and it is no accident I think that this announcement came just before Premier Li Qiang’s visit to Malaysia.

“And again this is part and parcel of Prime Minister Anwar’s own thinking of how Malaysia should balance between the US and also European interests, versus Chinese and other interests in the other ecosystem including Russia including maybe India but to me we have to be clear in terms of how joining this grouping of countries can benefit Malaysia,” said Ong who is also DAP Selangor treasurer on a YouTube podcast named Are We OK.

The podcast episode is called ‘From Singapore Teacher to Msia: Egg Price Drop, Candidates’ Education, BRICS.

Ong previously stated on X that there is no harm in applying to join BRICS. However, he emphasised that the country must be very clear about its strategic interests and how Malaysia can achieve them within the context of BRICS.

He noted that some may believe joining BRICS could reduce the country’s dependency on the US dollar. However, he emphasized that Malaysia can achieve this without joining BRICS.

“Somebody recently told me this statistic that China is our largest trading partner, 25% of our trade with China is settled without the use of US dollar swaps meaning it’s a Ringgit-Renminbi transaction and this saves the country and also our business community some money in terms of not needing to pay the additional cost of swapping from Ringgit into US Dollar and then Us Dollar into Ringgit,” he said.

He added that the remaining 75% is settled in US dollars via swaps or invoices.

However, he said if Malaysians want to do business with Russian companies, being part of BRICS wouldn’t necessarily help Malaysian companies.

“Because if we get involved in the ecosystem our banks will be sanctioned by the Europeans and Americans. We are not big enough as a country to be able to set up alternative payment mechanisms like what India and China and maybe even Brazil are capable of doing we’re still a relatively small country exposed to the global financial system.

“So I think these are serious questions that need to be considered,” he said.

Anwar announced that Putrajaya would initiate formal procedures to join BRICS five days ago.

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