End the maze of contradictory signals on  government policy on Misuari  raising questions whether Malaysia is in full control of her own foreign policy by repatriating the Moro rebel leader to Manila with any further delay


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The statement yesterday by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, that the Cabinet has decided to deport Moro rebel leader Nur Misuari is long overdue to end the five-day maze of contradictory signals on  government policy  on the issue raising questions whether Malaysia is fully  in control of her own foreign policy.

For instance, on the day Misuari and six others were arrested off Sabah waters last Saturday, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai said that there was a possibility that  Misuariís presence in Sabah was a threat to national security and that the police would be making arrangements with the Philippines embassy as soon as possible to arrange for the handing over of Misuari.

On the same day, Abdullah, who was in Kota Kinabalu also said that Malaysia would hand over Misuari to Manila and that no charges would be filed against Misuari for illegally entering Malaysia.

However, Malaysiaís plans altered when Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo  expressed  the wish that the former Governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao should be detained  in a Malaysian jail first, saying that she preferred Malaysia taking "a first crack" at  the Moro leader  before it hands him over to Manila for
trial for rebellion.

She even seemed to indicate that her government would have no objections if Misuari is held under the detention-without-trial law, the Internal Security Act, as she said: "Because, as Prime Minister Mahathir said yesterday, he entered Malaysia illegally and he is a threat to their national security and they have an Internal Security Act."

Despite DAPís call on Monday that  Malaysia should not interfere in the internal affairs of the Philippines and that Misuari should not be detained a day longer in Malaysia and should be handed back to the Filipino authorities without any delay, the Malaysian government continued to dilly-dally on the matter.

There was the pronouncement by the Philippine ambassador to Malaysia Jose Brillantes that Misuari would face charges in the country for violating Malaysian laws before he is handed over to the Philippines, as if the Filipino envoy was privy to top secrets in the government denied to ordinary Malaysians.

Suddenly, there was a change of tune among the top leaders.  Abdullah, for instance, said  that the police had started investigations against Misuari for entering the country illegally when  three days earlier he had said that Misuari would not be charged for illegally entering Malaysia.  Why such a public flip-flop for a Prime Minister-designate?

Norian Mai also chimed in  declaring that the police were investigating Misuari on matters pertaining to national security, and probing if Misuari had any links with the outlawed Abu Sayyaf group responsible for the kidnapping of several Malaysians on the resort islands of Sipadan and Pandanan last year.

If Norian Mai was  serious, then the Cabinet was being most irresponsible in taking the policy decision on Wednesday to deport Misuari and not to  give the police full powers to conduct its investigations against Misuari.

It is long overdue for Misuari to leave the Malaysian soil.

The Malaysian government must never lose sight of its responsibility to accord top priority to safeguard the interests of the people and nation and it should not act in any manner which could compromise such interests.

There should be no further delay in immediately repatriating Misuari to Manila and to send out the clear and unmistakable message  that Malaysia is fully in charge of her national foreign policy.

(30/11/2001)



*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman