Call on government to issue White Paper on the threat of terrorism in Malaysia and not just use terrorism to serve Barisan Nasional partisan interest to stifle democracy and human rights in the country
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Saturday): The impact of the public displeasure of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his message to the Dewan Negara on Monday over the move by certain countries to place Malaysia on top of the "danger threat" list issued to travellers affecting tourist arrivals and the entry of foreign investment could not last more than 72 hours, for it was completely eclipsed by the latest warning by the United States on Wednesday that terrorist attacks similar to last month's Bali bombing which killed nearly 200 people could take place in other Southeast Asian nations, including Malaysia.
Mahathir reacted in fury at the escalation of the US “Terrorist Alert” warning which prominently featured Malaysia, describing the US action as “economic sabotage”, saying that he did not know if there was an intentional plan to sabotage Malaysia’s economy by issuing such a public warning and naming the country, but the fact was that the move would hurt the country’s economy.
But the impact of Mahathir’s fury was even more short-lived, as it was quickly lost in the avalanche of world-wide printed and electronic media reports including CNN which mentioned Malaysia in the news emanating from Indonesia, Washington and the Middle East about investigations into the Bali bomb blasts, terrorist attacks and the capture of senior al-Qaeda leaders which cannot but reinforce mounting international perceptions of Malaysia’s linkage with international terrorism.
For instance, Imam Samudra, whom the Indonesian police said had admitted to be the mastermind of the Bali bombing and participation in a spate of church bombings across Indonesia on Christmas Eve 2000 which killed 19 people and an unsuccessful attack on a church in Jakarta last year, is believed to have Malaysian permanent resident status and had studied and later taught at a religious school, Al-Tarbiyyah Al-Islamiyyah Luqmanul Hakiem Madrasah in Ulu Tiram, Johore, and later married a Malaysian woman.
Earlier, it was reported that the principal and co-founder of the Ulu Tiram madrasah in the early 1990s was Mukhlas (brother of detained Bali bomber Amrozi, who had also studied in the madrasah), who is also wanted by the Indonesian police and is believed to have taken over the operational responsibilities for al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah from Hambali (another Malaysian permanent resident) who had been dubbed South-East Asia’s Osama bin Laden.
Malaysia was again featured in the leading news on CNN and the international media yesterday that the United States had captured a senior al-Qaeda leader who is
providing interrogators with information about the terrorist group’s plots and may possess clues to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and its top leadership,
The man, Abd al-Rahim al-Nishiri, an explosives expert and member of bin Laden’s inner circle, helped plot the suicide attack on US destroyer Cole and trained the terrorists who below up US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
International media reports said a-Nashiri was “seized within the past two weeks in a CIA operation while trarvelling from Yemen to Malaysia” and that he was present at the January 2000 meeting of top al Qaeda operatives in Kajang, Malaysia, which was attended by two of the September 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mindhar and Nawaq al-Hazmi, and key bin Laden lieutenants to plot the USS Cole and September 11 terrorist attacks.
In these circumstances, the knee-jerk reaction of the Malaysian government protesting about “economic sabotage” must be as baffling as the latest US warning that the Bali bomb attacks could happen in Malaysia, raising questions as to why the Mahathir government is co-operating with the Bush Administration to establish the US-Malaysia Regional Anti-Terrorism Centre if it is convinced that the US Government is committing “economic sabotage” against Malaysia.
Despite my complaint last month, the government has not been able to get its act together and stop sending out confusing and conflicting signals about the threat of terrorism in the country.
What is worse, it seems to be staging a two-front act – domestically, giving the image to Malaysians that the terrorist threat is real and severe as to require the most draconian measures diminishing democratic practices and human rights while internationally, wanting the world to believe that Malaysia is completely free and safe from the threat of terrorism.
Malaysia can only be one or the other and not be both safe for international consumption and unsafe for domestic purposes at the same time.
DAP calls on the government to immediately issue a White Paper to be fully frank and transparent on the threat of terrorism in Malaysia and not just use terrorism to serve Barisan Nasional partisan interest to stifle democracy and human rights in the country.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman