(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday):
DAP leaders will ask
for a meeting with the United States Ambassador to protest that Malaysia has
been blacklisted in the group of 15
“terrorist-risk” countries from whose countries visitors could be
finger-printed, photographed and tracked like
common criminals in the United States by
the US immigration authorities.
carried an exclusive report, putting on its website, a highly sensitive
four-page US Justice Department memorandum by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) revealing that US Attorney-General John Ashcroft
had authorized US immigration inspectors
from October 1 to fingerprint, photograph and track “visiting aliens”
who have travelled to 15 “terrorist-risk” countries including
Malaysia and can’t credibly explain
“terrorist-risk” countries cited in the secret INS memo are: Iran, Iraq,
Libya, Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt,
Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
5, only four countries regarded by the US as terrorist-sponsoring states,
Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Libya, were blacklisted and visitors from these countries
subject to special screening.
After October 1,
Malaysia will be in the expanded list of 15 “terrorist-risk” countries and
“visiting aliens” who have traveled to these countries would be
subject to special screening, like being finger-printed, photographed and
tracked, “if they can’t credibly explain their trips there”.
Although the new US INS
ruling does not automatically apply to
Malaysians visiting the US, it is going to be the
cause of a lot of hassle, inconvenience and even hardships to Malaysians
visiting the United States apart from reinforcing and perpetuating American
misperceptions that Malaysia is a “terrorist state”. The 15 “terrorist-risk” blacklist will transform
Malaysians into surrogate terrorists to many in the United States.
The four South-east
Asia countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore,
had gained media notoriety
after the September 11 terrorist attacks as the launching-pad
for terrorism and network of al
Qaeda operatives. Malaysians are rightly surprised, however, that
Malaysia should be singled out, together with Indonesia, as the two Southeast
Asian countries to be blacklisted by the US Justice Department, subjecting
visitors from the country to special screening like being finger-printed,
photographed and tracked.
The US Ambassador owes
the Malaysian people a proper explanation for this discriminatory treatment of
US media reports about
Malaysia being included in the list of 15 “terrorist-risk” states made
numerous uninformed and baseless comments about
Malaysia, such as the following in the WorldNetDaily report “INS to vet
Indonesia, Malaysia travelers – Nations among 15 mostly Muslim states that
fall under secret criteria”:
“Fewer than half of Malaysians are Muslim, but Islam is still the official religion there, says Ph.D. historian Serge Trifkovic, author of ‘The Sword of the Prophet: Islam History, Theology, Impact on the World.’ Import and sale of the Bible in Malay is banned, he says, and it's against the law for a Muslim to convert to Christianity or other religions.
“Much of the population there is sympathetic to al-Qaida's brand of militant Islamic supremacy and is radically anti-American. During the bombing campaign in Afghanistan, for example, tens of thousands of protestors in Malaysia chanted: ‘Go to Hell, America’ and ‘Destroy America,’ notes Mideast scholar Daniel Pipes, author of ‘Militant Islam Reaches America.’
“Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaz al-Hazmi, were among al-Qaida operatives who met in Malaysia in January 2000. They were joined at the meeting by Tawfiq Attash Khallad, an al-Qaida leader accused of masterminding the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000. “
Deputy Prime Minister
and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should make a ministerial
statement in Parliament on Malaysia being singled out for the first time for US immigration
restrictions and blacklisted in the
group of 15 “terrorist-risk
countries” and the outcome of his recent visit to the United
States to impress on the Bush Administration not to brand Malaysia as a
terrorist state or as having links with terrorism.
Parliament and the
Malaysian people are entitled to know whether the US Vice President Dick Cheney
had been open and frank in his meeting with Abdullah in Washington when the
Malaysian leader told him that Malaysia does not like to be branded as a
terrorist state or as having links with terrorists or any such profiling.
It is now clear that
when Abdullah met Cheney last week, the Bush Administration had already taken a
policy decision to blacklist Malaysia and lumped it in the group of 15
“terrorist-risk” warranting the special screening of visitors
from the country by the US immigration authorities. Did Cheney inform Abdullah
of Malaysia being in the new US blacklist of 15 “terrorist-risk” states?
DAP leaders will want
to find out from the US Ambassador whether the Prime Minister’s “929
Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State had been one contributing
factors for the Bush
Administration’s decision to blacklist Malaysia with the group of 15
“terrorist-risk” states and under what circumstances Malaysia could be
removed from the list of “terrorist-risk” countries.