Parliament should not end its two-month parliamentary meeting next week without holding a comprehensive debate on the threat and challenge of terrorism after the Sept. 11 and Bali terrorist attacks

Media Statement
Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Parliament should not end its two-month parliamentary meeting next week without holding a comprehensive debate on the threat and challenge of terrorism after the September 11 and Bali terrorist attacks, or it would have abdicated from its fundamental responsibility as the highest political forum in the country to discuss the most urgent and contemporaneous issues confronting the nation and people.

Such a parliamentary debate is particularly compelling after the analysis by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad yesterday that Osama bin Laden has "succeeded beyond his wildest dreams" by creating global fear and raising the possibility of a clash between Muslims and non-Muslims, as highlighted by the recent political developments in the United States and Muslim nations.

Mahathir was referring to the US mid-term elections victory of US President George Bush and the Republican Party to win control of the Senate and retain command of the House of Representatives showing support for Bush's unilaterist and war-mongering foreign policy while in other countries like Turkey, Bahrain, Pakistan and Morocco, Islamist parties have fared well in recent elections and become more popular.

If, as Mahathir posits yesterday, the world is poised on the verge of a global clash between Muslims and non-Muslims, where does Malaysia stand when Malaysia is a plural society of diverse races, religions, languages and cultures where Islam is constitutionally provided as the official religion but the nation is not an Islamic state?

If there is a global clash between Muslims and non-Muslims as postulated by Mahathir, should Malaysia take the side of the Muslims because of his unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional "929 declaration" at the Gerakan national conference last year that Malaysia is an Islamic state and his forthcoming chairmanship of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) or should Malaysia seek to be a bridge of conciliation between the Muslim and non-Muslim world because of our unique constitutional position where Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state as laid down by the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the "social contract" and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement?

The position that must be taken by the country if such an unfortunate eventuality of a global clash between Muslims and non-Muslims materializes should be one which represents the position of all Malaysians transcending considerations of race, religion, culture or political affiliation.

Parliament should begin the national process to think through the nation's position in such an unfortunate eventuality and to also debate whether we should allow the war against terrorism to further undermine democracy and human rights in Malaysia and adversely change the character of our governance..

Parliament had failed to make use of the past 14 months after the September 11 terrorist attacks to focus national attention on this grave problem, and it should not continue to sweep the issue under the carpet.- especially as Parliament will not meet until four months later on March 11, 2003 after its adjournment next week.

In my media statement a fortnight ago (26th October 2002), I had urged the government to get its act together and not send out confusing and conflicting signals about the threat of terrorism in the country giving instances of such inconsistent and contradictory positions by different government leaders and spokesmen on this important issue.

The situation has got worse instead of better in the past two weeks and this is another aspect which should be debated by Parliament next week on the great and grave issue of terrorism confronting Malaysia and the world.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman