(Petaling Jaya, Monday):The heinous and dastardly bomb blasts in Bali which killed some 200 people and injured 300 should be a national, regional and international “wake-up call” in the international war against terrorism and for this reason the Malaysian Parliament should adjourn the 2003 Budget committee stage debate to hold an in-depth and wide-ranging debate on the national, regional and international implications of the Bali carnage.
A year after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the international war against terrorism has lost focus and the international coalition against terrorism grievously undermined by the defiance of world opinion by the unilateralist US Bush Administration in wanting to override the United Nations and use its superpower to topple Saddam Hussein and effect a “regime change” in Iraq, even planning an American-led administration in Iraq ala General Douglas MacArthur in postwar Japan.
The Bali bomb blasts should be a chastening wake-up call to the Bush administration that nothing could more powerfully destroy the fragile international coalition against terrorism than an unilateral US military attack on Iraq.
At present, there is unanimous international condemnation of the heinous and dastardly bomb blasts in Bali, which would be absent or muted in a post-US military attack on Iraq, inflaming passions, particularly in the Muslim world, and seeding terrorist retaliation and protests in various parts of the globe.
The Bali bomb blasts should also be a wake-up call for the region as Southeast Asia runs the risk of being regarded as the regional haven for terrorist networks and activities with irreparable detriment to the economic future of all the countries in the region.
A terrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna has identified al Qaeda’s South-East Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah likely to be responsible for the terrorist attack on Bali.
For the first time, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has admitted after the Bali bomb blasts that terrorism was a real danger and potential threat to Indonesia’s national security.
There is also a lesson to be drawn from the Bali bomb blasts by Malaysia. Up to now, the Malaysian authorities have publicly denied that there is any al Qaeda cell or network in Malaysia and Malaysians, including Parliament, had been virtually denied information about the terrorist threat in the country as whatever information about Jemaah Islamiyah and al Qaeda activities, links and associations in Malaysia had to be gleaned from international media reports.
The government has so far detained 62 people under the Internal Security Act for being involved with the Kumpulan Militant Malaysia (KMM) with links to Jemaah Islamiyah and which in turn is linked to al Qaeda, but no one has been charged in court nor has the government tabled any White Paper in Parliament to present the case of the terrorist threat in Malaysia.
What is most disturbing is the use of the Sept. 11 terrorism issue as an expedient political weapon by the Barisan Nasional against the democratic opposition when this issue should be regarded as a national issue which transcends party politics.
The Bali bomb blasts should therefore be a triple “wake-up call” – to the US Bush Administration to refocus on the international coalition and war against terrorism, in particular the root causes of terrorism, and not to undermine them with an unilateralist and adventurist war to topple Saddam Hussein; to the governments in the region to upgrade their co-operation to ensure that South East Asia is not regarded as a regional haven for terrorism with all the adverse economic and tourist repercussions and to the Malaysian government to take Malaysians, political parties and the civil society into confidence to conduct a national campaign against terrorism transcending political or sectional differences.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman