Mahathirís statement on hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane most unfortunate as it is  in very bad taste and reflects poorly on Malaysia internationally


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Penang,  Wednesday): The statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane is most unfortunate as it is in very bad taste and reflects poorly on Malaysia internationally.

While Mahathir  expressed regret over the hijacking of the  Indian Airlines plane last Friday, saying that hostage-taking were acts of desperation,  he likened the hijacking of the  Airbus-300 airliner with 189 people on board (27 passengers, mostly women and children, and the body of an Indian passenger who was stabbed to death, were released before it  flew to Kandahar in Afghanistan) to the United Nations' (UN) sanctions on Iraq - "holding the people of Iraq as hostages in order to get one person to surrender or to come down."

Mahathir said: "So this clearly shows this kind of example (holding innocent people hostages), naturally other people are going to follow.

"The world must set an example that nobody, not even nations, should hold as hostage any other nation or people in order to achieve a certain aim," he said.

"If we don't put a stop to that kind of practice, there are going to be many more such situations," Dr Mahathir added.

DAP fully supports the lifting of the nine-year United Nations economic sanctions on Iraq, as it weighs most heavily against the Iraqi people, causing them to suffer from poverty, malnutrition, and a collapsed infrastructure, with the Iraqi children and elderly the hardest hit as they are the most vulnerable in the population.

However, we cannot approve of  Mahathirís equation of the hijacking of the Indian airline with the United Nations economic sanctions on Iraq, as it tantamounts to an indirect approval for international terrorism as well as callous disregard for the sufferings of the victims of the hijacking, not only the passengers hijacked but also their loved ones.

Would Mahathir make such insensitive  comments if there are Malaysians among the passengers in the hijacked Indian airline?

The Foreign Ministry should give serious study  to the damage that is being done to Malaysiaís best national interest by many of Mahathirís thoughtless statements, as to how such harm could be minimised.

While Malaysia must have an independent voice and mind of its own, as it is a sovereign nation and not a puppet of any other nation or power, it does Malaysia no good to become an international pariah because of perverse views or positions by the Prime Minister.

(29/12/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman