DAP calls for all-party roundtable conference to reject the Bush/Howard doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive attack and all other forms of state terrorism and present a Malaysian national consensus on the most effective strategy to combat terrorism to the 114-nation Non-Aligned Movement Summit next February
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Australian Prime Minister John Howard has alienated all sections of public opinion in Southeast Asia with his arrogant defence in the Australian Parliament yesterday of his Sunday statement that he would be prepared to resort to pre-emptive military action against terrorists plotting on foreign soil to attack Australia.
Howard was indulging in pure sophistry when he said that his words were not directed at countries in the region and that “Any Australian Prime Minister unwilling to do that would be failing the most basic tenet of office”.
Did the Australian Prime Minister seriously expect the target of his belligerent “Kill first, ask questions later” policy - the nations and peoples of Southeast Asia - to naively believe his clarification that Australia could launch pre-emptive anti-terror strikes in other countries without violating their territorial integrity and national sovereignty?
In the past week, Australia had closed its embassy in Manila despite strong protests by the Philippines government because of intelligence of imminent attack by Jemaah Islamiyah which it had refused to share or disclose to the Filipino security authorities.
Under Howard’s “strike-first policy”, will Australian forces in future enter the Philippines to unilaterally remove such types of threats to the Australian embassy presence in Manila?
And wouldn’t Howard regard it as failure of “the most basic tenet of office” for leaders of Southeast Asian nations to allow Australia to launch such unilateral pre-emptive military attacks in their countries with no prior warning and permission?
It is no surprise that Howard’s enunciation of the doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive attack in Southeast Asia had elicited such an outrage in the region, with Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad declaring that any intrusion into Malaysian territory by Australian forces would be construed as “an act of war”.
It is a measure of his ham-fisted, unneighbourly, insensitive and arrogant attitude that Howard appears bent on transforming a war against internationally co-ordinated terrorism which should involve the co-operation of all countries in the region into an act of war by Australia against the Southeast Asian neighbours.
One unintended consequence of the pernicious doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive military attack, which is completely inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and fundamentally contrary to international law and order aimed at constructing world peace and an international rule of law, is to fuel an arms race among nations.
Malaysians do not want Howard’s adoption of the Bush doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive military attack in Southeast Asia to become the excuse for greater militarisation and an even greater leap in defence expenditures in the country.
For this reason, DAP calls for an all-party roundtable conference to reject the Bush/Howard doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive attack and all other forms of state terrorism and achieve and present a Malaysian national consensus on the most effective strategy to combat terrorism to the 114-nation Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Kuala Lumpur next February.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman