(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Malaysians, regardless of political beliefs, are united in condemning the Anglo-American bombing of Iraq - whether they are from Barisan Nasional component parties or opposition parties, groups and NGOs.
In the Opposition, the denunciation of the DAP, PAS and PRM of President Clinton’s cynical use of airstrikes against Iraq to forestall the impending impeachment proceedings against him by the US House of Representatives have been as strong as those made by the Barisan Nasional component parties.
NGOs have also been very forthright in their condemnation of the US bombings of Iraq. The newly-formed Movement for Social Justice, or ADIL, led by the wife of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datin Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, also condemned the American-British military strikes against Baghdad and called for an immediate halt to the bombings "in the name of humanity".
She said: "The timing of the current offensive against Iraq is particularly distressing, coming just days before Ramadan, the month of mercy and charity, and a week before Christmas, the celebration of peace."
While Malaysians regardless of political beliefs are united in condemning the Anglo-American bombing of Iraq, the time has come for greater maturity in Malaysian politics where dissent, criticism and opposition to the Prime Minister is not equated with disloyalty or some form of treason.
Apart from the world-wide condemnation of the US-Britain bombing of Iraq, there is also widespread opposition to the military action by the Americans themselves.
I am sure the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad would be the first to disagree with certain partisan views in the United States that Americans who criticise, oppose or condemn Clinton’s decision to bomb Iraq are disloyal, unpatriotic or even committing treason - that there is a clear and important distinction between support for the President and loyalty and love for the country.
Let Malaysia show the world that the Malaysian political system is capable of making such an important distinction - that dissent, criticism and even opposition to the Prime Minister of the day cannot be equated to disloyalty, lack of patriotism or akin to some form of treason, but is an important criteria as to whether there is healthy democratic culture and tradition in the country.
This is important as of late, there has been a tendency among certain powerful quarters to equate support for the Prime Minister as support for Malaysia, and any form of criticism, dissent or lack of support as equivalent to disloyalty, lack of patriotism or some form of treason - which is a dangerous trend which must be nipped in the bud if it is not to further undermine and crush the already very limited freedoms in the country.