By H G Rahman

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--For the past week the world has had its eyes on events unfolding in Ukraine. While we may symphatise with one side or the other, what is important is that we are free to do so.

Likewise the government must be free to formulate and implement its own foreign policies. Malaysia must not allow itself to be bullied, manipulated or outright forced to take a position in international matters.

It is disconcerting to read of a ruling in favour of the Sulu Sultanate which could see billions of ringgit in Malaysians assets being seized.

The timing of this news coincided with Malaysia refusing to call the events in Ukraine an "invasion" and refusing to enforce sanctions against Russia. In fact a Russian owned ship had been scheduled to make a port call in Kuala Linggi but following news of the ruling made by a French court , the Transport Ministry made an about turn, blocking the ship.

The timing of these events is too close for comfort and the government must reveal to the public if it is in fact facing pressure to align itself with the West against Russia.

While this may seem to be an unimportant matter, imagine if in the future Malaysia is forced to enforce sanctions against Palestine or take steps against a country that we have until now enjoyed close relations with.

What if Malaysia is forced to take a position against China? Is Malaysia prepared to face the ramifications of such an act?

Being an independent and sovereign country, Malaysia must chart its own foreign policy direction. If Malaysia will allow itself to do the bidding of others, we are effectively a colony again.

The present government is urged to grow a spine and take a firm stand on matters of foreign policy. Do not let Malaysia be used as a pawn by others who do not have Malaysia's interest at heart but rather just see Malaysia as just another tool to be used against their geopolitical enemies.