Mahathir should rein in and stop Zainuddin
from doing more damage to Malaysia's international image as in his rather
dumb response to DAP's call for a Government White Paper on the ICG report
on Malaysia as a launching pad for al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah
terrorist bombings in South East Asia since 1999
by Lim Kit Siang
Monday): Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainudin
Maidin yesterday questioned the DAP's sincerity and honesty in asking the
government to issue a White Paper on the latest report of the Brussels-based
International Crisis Group (ICG) which portrays Malaysia as a launching pad
for al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah's terrorist bombings and attacks in
Southeast Asia since 1999.
The Star carried the headline "Accept Malaysia as Islamic state, DAP
told" in its report quoting Zainuddin as saying that efforts to counter
claims that Malaysia was a centre for terrorists would be more effective and
have greater impact "if the DAP accepts Malaysia as an Islamic state as
declared by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad".
Zainuddin's rather dumb response to the DAP's call for a government White
paper on the ICG report has again shown that the newly-promoted Information
Deputy Minister is often out of his depths when commenting on national
issues and I would advise the Prime Minister to rein in and stop him from
doing more damage to Malaysia's national interest as in this case, further
undermining Malaysia's international image when all loyal, nationalistic and
patriotic Malaysians should come together to eliminate the growing
international perception of Malaysia as a "terrorist centre" - which the
Prime Minister has himself acknowledged in his recent Hari Raya Aidilfitri
In bringing up the DAP's opposition to Mahathir's unilateral, arbitrary and
unconstitutional declaration at the Gerakan national delegates' conference
on Sept. 29 last year (the "929 Declaration") that Malaysia is an
Islamic State and to link it to DAP's call for a government White Paper on
terrorism, Zainuddin has committed the cardinal sin of subordinating
national interest to UMNO sectional and party interests by trying to hijack
the issue of terrorism to advance the UMNO agenda in the political
competition with PAS to out-Islam each other.
Is Zainuddin seriously suggesting that the pre-condition for a national
consensus and endeavour to wipe out the growing international perception of
Malaysia as a "terrorist centre" and "home to al Qaeda terrorists" is
acceptance of Mahathir's declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic state?
If so, then there is no way for
the achievement of such a national consensus binding all political parties,
government and opposition, as it is not only the DAP but also PAS, Parti
Keadilan Nasional and Parti Rakyat who are opposed to Mahathir's "929
Declaration" of Malaysia as an Islamic State, although for completely
DAP for instance holds that Mahathir's "929 Declaration" that
Malaysia is an Islamic State violates the 45-year Merdeka Constitution and
"social contract" of our founding fathers led by Bapa Malaysia and the first
Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman that Malaysia is a democratic, secular
and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia
is not an Islamic state, whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.
PAS, on the other hand, holds that Malaysia can only be an Islamic State if
the supreme law of the nation is the Quran and Sunnah, with Parti Keadilan
Nasional and Party Rakyat more supportive of PAS than DAP on this issue.
I call on Mahathir or the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi who is waiting to assume the highest office of the land in ten
months' time, to declare whether it is the government stand that there can
be no way for a national consensus and an united national stand against
terrorism, whether Jemaah Islamiyah or al-Qaeda, unless all opposition
parties come around to support Mahathir's "929 Declaration" of
Malaysia as an Islamic State?
Zainuddin seems to make light of the far-reaching economic and political
fall-out of the Oct. 12 Bali bombings, 13 monts after the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks in the United States, which have been likened to "a radioactive
cloud over Southeast Asia, poisoning the region long after the sound of the
explosion has died away".
Only history can tell whether the world is set for a decade and not a
century of terrorism, especially as no government has a clue how to fight
terrorism without creating more terrorists.
The pertinent question Malaysians
must ask is whether we have a government which is sufficiently aware that it
is in our vital national interest to take decisive and effective action to
stamp out the fast-spreading international perception of Malaysia as a
"terrorist centre" which, if allowed to take root, will do untold damage to
the nation, economically in scaring away foreign investors and tourists as
well as to the civil liberties and religious tolerance at home and our
The seriousness of such an international misperception hit me hard yesterday
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
Although admitting that Kean's nomination was a "quantum improvement" over
Kissinger, described as "a master of secrets and a war criminal to boot",
the writer examined Kean's credentials, and this is where Malaysia was given
a fatal hit.
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.
Zainuddin is doing a grave national disservice when instead of joining hands
with the DAP to address the issue of the growing international perception of
Malaysia as a "terrorist centre" and "home to al-Qaeda terrorists" he tries
to hijack it to further the UMNO political agenda in the competition with
PAS to out-Islam and "out-Islamic State" one another.
As it is Zainuddin who raised the issue of the Islamic State, is the
government prepared to commission an international opinion survey,
especially in the United States and the West, as to whether, and if so the
extent, Mahathir's "929 Declaration" that Malaysia is an Islamic
State had contributed to the growing international perception of Malaysia as
a "terrorist centre" and "home to al Qaeda terrorists"?
It is a national tragedy if Zainuddin's shallow, negative, immature and
shallow thinking reflects the mainstream government opinion at a time when
the immediate stamping out of the international misperception must be
elevated as a top urgent national priority involving the efforts and
commitments of all political parties, the civil society and all Malaysians.
DAP calls on the Cabinet to place this challenge as its No. 1 agenda at its
first meeting for 2003 (as it appears unlikely that the Cabinet would be
meeting for the rest of this year) and to take the policy decision to
convene 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 to formulate a national and
international strategy to counter, arrest and eliminate the misperception.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National