DAP offers co-operation to government in campaign to wipe out growing international perception that Malaysia is a “terrorist centre” and “home to al Qaeda terrorists”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): In his Hari Raya Aidilfitri address a fortnight ago, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia had been branded internationally as a “terrorist centre” although he blamed this on “Islamic militants…who had not been willing to fight the colonial powers to establish an Islamic state, but surfaced after independence to fight their fellow Muslims”.
Mahathir said: “Together with non-Muslims, let us strive to maintain peace and develop this nation. Show the world that Islam is not a violent religion and Muslims are not terrorists”.
DAP offers co-operation to the Barisan Nasional government in a campaign to wipe out the growing international perception that Malaysia is a “terrorist centre” and “home to al Qaeda terrorists”.
Just as the world is set for a long haul in the war against terrorism, especially as no government has a clue how to fight terrorism without creating more terrorists, it is imperative that Malaysia take decisive action to stamp out the fast-spreading international perception of Malaysia as a “terrorist centre” referred to by Mahathir in his Hari Raya address.
If this misperception of Malaysia as a “terrorist centre” takes deep root internationally, it will do untold damage to the nation, especially economically in scaring away foreign investors and tourists.
The seriousness of such an international misperception hit me hard this morning, when I was on the Internet reading an article entitled “Bush Nominates Himself to Chair 9/11 Investigation” by William Rivers Pitt, which had nothing to do with Malaysia or terrorism in the region as it was about the appointment of Thomas Kean to replace Henry Kissinger to chair the independent investigation into the colossal failure of the US intelligence community to prevent the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
The writer, when noting that Kean is also a director for the petroleum giant Amerada Hess, which has business agreements with Saudi Arabia and oil exploration facilities in Indonesia and Malaysia, commented: “The latter countries are widely believed to be home to al Qaeda terrorists, while the former has become notorious for its association with Wahabbi fundamentalism, Osama bin Laden, and a majority of the 9/11 hijackers.”
It must be a matter of grave concern to all Malaysians in this era of globalization if the misperception that Malaysia is a “terrorist centre” and “home to al Qaeda terrorists” is received and disseminated as the conventional wisdom of the peoples of the United States and the West.
This has nothing to do with the second report of the United Nations Security Council Monitoring Group on al-Qaeda published in October with a chart in an annex which indirectly linked the Barisan Nasional to al-Qaeda - as this report had hardly been noticed at all outside Malaysia - but the result of the constant and almost daily barrage in the international media linking Malaysia with terrorism and the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), reinforced by reports such as the recent publication by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) on 11th December entitled “How the Jemaah Islamiyah Terrorist Network Operates” virtually describing Malaysia as a launching pad for JI terrorist bombings and attacks in South East Asia since 1999.
Malaysia will suffer long and grievously if we allow the misperception of the country as a “terrorist centre” and “home to al Qaeda terrorists” to take deep root in the United States and the West.
The immediate stamping out of this misperception must be elevated as one of the urgent national priorities which must involve the efforts and commitments of all political parties, the civil society and all Malaysians.
DAP calls for the convening of a National Roundtable Conference involving all political parties (government and opposition), all religious groups, NGOs, trade unions, professional groups and representatives from all cross sections of the civil society, to identity the reasons for the alarming internationalization and deepening of the misperception that Malaysia is a “terrorist centre” and “home to al Qaeda terrorists” as well as a national and international strategy to counter, arrest and eliminate the misperception.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman