The first business of Parliament when it reconvenes on Monday should be a full debate on the Sept. 11 US terrorist attacks and the “international coalition against terrorism” against  Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): The UMNO Youth leader and Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein said yesterday that there are more important matters to be discussed in Parliament such as the world perception of Islam and violence, human rights and the possibility of an American counter-attack other than rhetorical issues like the PAS challenge to the Prime Minister to declare in Parliament that Malaysia is an Islamic State.  (The Sun)

I agree with  Hishammuddin that Parliament must address pressing global issues in particular the Sept. 11 terrorist mass murders in New York and Washington and the aftermath but disagree that the question as to whether Malaysia is an Islamic State as declared by the Prime Minister, most recently at the Gerakan national delegates’ conference last Saturday, is not important enough to be high on the parliamentary agenda.

The very fact that the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikkhism president Rev. Anthony Soter Fernandez had to  come out with a statement expressing the anxieties and fears of non-Muslims over the Prime Minister’s announcement belies any claim that this is not an important issue.

In fact, it must be regarded as one of the most critical issues of  nation-building of  the country in the new decade -  whether Malaysia is to remain true and faithful to the original Constitutional guarantee as  a democratic, secular and morally-based nation or will undergo transformation, whether overt or covert, to become an Islamic state, whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.

Parliament will be abdicating its national and   constitutional responsibilities if it does not address this crucial issue of nation-building in the forthcoming meeting of Parliament.

Parliament will also be abdicating its national and constitutional responsibilities if it fails to give the topmost priority to the pressing urgent issue of global terrorism, arising from the heinous crime against humanity of the Sept. 11 United States terrorist mass murders, which claimed some 6,000 innocent civilians as victims, including Malaysians.

In fact, the very  first business of Parliament when it reconvenes on Monday should be a full debate on the Sept. 11 US terrorist attacks,  the “international coalition against terrorism” against  Osama bin Laden, his al-Qaeda network and  their global repercussions.

It should be a wide-ranging debate, not only to provide an opportunity for an unanimous all-party condemnation of the Sept. 11 atrocities  and support to bring the perpetrators of such crime to humanity to justice but also to  declare the  stand of the Malaysian government, people and nation on the “international coalition against terrorism” assembled and led by the United States.

The Malaysian Parliament must make clear in the debate that  while the terrorists who perpetrated the Sept. 11 carnage must be pursued relentlessly and brought to justice, the international community and in particular the United States should also urgently and aggressively pursue new policies to address  international injustices which  provide the breeding ground for terrorism in the first place.

Equally important, Parliament should take the first available opportunity to send a clear message to the United States that a war against Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world, maiming or killing innocent civilian Afghans, can only compound what is already a humanitarian disaster and is definitely an unacceptable option.

Even if Operation Enduring Freedom succeeds in locating and killing Osama bin Laden in an indiscriminate war sacrificing civilians, it can only have the effect of sowing the dragon’s seeds to give birth to more Osama bin Ladens.

Yesterday, the Pakistani government said it had seen enough evidence against Osama bin Laden  to justify an indictment for  the terrorist  attacks in the United States.

The Malaysian Government should ask the United States Government for the  evidence implicating Osama in the suicide hijacked  plane attacks and  present them to Parliament on Monday, if such  evidence had not yet  been made public - as it is the international court of world opinion that must finally be convinced of the justice and righteousness of the course of action taken by the international coalition against terrorism arising from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman