(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The Jakarta Post report yesterday quoting top-level intelligence sources as saying that the Bali bomb blasts were carried out by a terrorist cell of seven “foreigners” led by a Yemeni and his Malaysian deputy has been denied by the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai who said he had contacted his counterpart in Jakarta, who informed him that they had no information on any Malaysian being involved, and the Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Hadi A. Wayarbi Alhardar who said that the Indonesian authorities had not yet identified anyone behind the Bali bombing.
What cannot be denied however is that Malaysia has become a major casualty of the Bali bomb blasts, as highlighted by Malaysia’s inclusion in the list of six countries in Southeast Asia which the Australian Government has asked its citizens to leave as a result of “disturbing new information” about more terrorist threats against Westerners.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday that from information “received a number of hours ago”, apart from Indonesia, Westerners faced risk from possible terrorist activities in Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.
In the past month, Malaysia seemed to have catapulted from a “terrorist-risk state” as a result of being placed in the US Immigration blacklists to a “terrorist haven”!
This is reason enough why Malaysia should join the multinational task force tracking down the perpetrators of the Bali bomb blasts, which now comprise intelligence officers and investigators from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States assisting their Indonesian counterparts – with United Nations investigators joining in as the latest participants.
The Malaysian Police should join the multinational investigation task force in Indonesia not only because Malaysia has a direct vested interest in wanting a terrorist-free South East Asia, but also because of the numerous intelligence reports of involvement of Malaysians in terrorist activities based in Indonesia.
Furthermore, Malaysia is a party to various ASEAN declarations and agreements involving Indonesia in the war against terrorism, for instance, the November 2001 ASEAN Declaration on Joint Action to Counter Terrorism made at the ASEAN Summit in Brunei, the Joint Communique of the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Terrorism in Kuala Lumpur and the anti-terrorism agreement signed by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines both in May this year.
In early May in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Phillipines sealed a trilateral security pact to bolster co-operation to combat terrorism, but when the biggest terrorist attack came with the world’s worst terrorist incident in Kuta, Bali since September 11 in the United States, killing 200 people and injuring another 300, such trilateral regional security solidarity and co-operation is conspicuously absent as compared to US, Australian, New Zealand, Japan and European participation in the multinational task force investigating the Bali bomb blasts.
What is worse and very unfortunate, two of the three countries of the trilateral anti-terrorism pact were bogged down in the quarrel over the mixed nationality of the 13-year-old girl and tussle as to who should apologise to who over the allegation that she was raped while being held at a temporary detention depot in Sabah!
It is not too late for the Malaysian police to join the multinational task force to investigate the Bali bomb blasts as Malaysia has a direct interest in its outcome for more than one reason.
Furthermore, the time has also come for the ASEAN countries to give teeth to the various ASEAN declarations and agreements to counter terrorism in the region to ensure that Southeast Asia is not regarded by the world as the new front and haven for international terrorism, with far-reaching economic and security repercussions for all the countries in the region.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman