(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Although Barisan Nasional leaders are delighted that Malaysia has been chosen by the United States for its proposed regional anti-terrorism centre in South East Asia, which would be jointly run by the U.S and Malaysia, the government should first address the concerns and issues about such an anti-terrorism regional centre in Malaysia before it is set up in the country.
The proposal for a US-Malaysia regional anti-terrorism centre in Malaysia was first raised at the ASEAN Summit in Brunei in August this year which was attended by the US Secretary of State Colin Powell and where an US-ASEAN counter-terrorism pact, the Joint Declaration for Co-operation to Combat International Terrorism, was concluded.
In the past four months, however, the world scenario has darkened considerably, with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) openly admitting at the US congressional hearings that al-Qaeda “are reconstituted” and “are coming after us” in multi-threatres and that the threat posed by Al-Qaeda was as serious as before last year’s September 11 as well as the escalation of terrorist incidents like the shootings of US Marines in Kuwait, the attack of an oil tanker off Yemen, the bombings in the Philippines, the bombing in Bali and yesterday the assassination of a US diplomat in Jordan.
During this period, the world has also seen how the US, as the sole superpower on the planet, has ranged against world opinion in its defiance and threat to unilaterally launch pre-emptive military attacks against Iraq even without United Nations sanction, which would not only destabilize the Middle East but become the most potent cause for the swift proliferation of terrorist activities worldwide.
Under these circumstances, it is important that the Malaysian government and people should give careful thought to the proposal for the siting of the US-Malaysia regional anti-terrorism centre in the country.
Although Malaysia must live up to its responsibility to combat international terrorism, it should ensure that the establishment of the US-Malaysia regional anti-terrorism centre does not specifically serve the US agenda with South East Asia becoming the second front in the war against terrorism.
One way to ensure this result is for the proposed regional anti-terrorism centre to come under the umbrella of the United Nations, for the war against international terrorism is best waged by the international community through the United Nations with the United States playing a leading role, instead of an international campaign unilaterally directed and shaped according to the whims and fancies of the Bush administration.
Malaysian leaders have repeatedly urged on US President Bush to focus on the root causes of terrorism, and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohomad had pinned on this failure to do so as the reason why the war on terrorism was going badly a year after September 11 terrorist attacks.
Will the proposed regional anti-terrorism centre in Malaysia have as an important focus the root causes of terrorism, including the problem of state terrorism, so that there could be a more effective holistic attack on the threat of terrorism and its causes in the 21st century?
There are many other questions related to the issue of terrorism which the Malaysia nation and people should address and discuss openly before the government goes ahead unilaterally to set up the US-Malaysia regional anti-terrorism centre in the country.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman