US President Bush will become an unmitigated bully fanning anti-American sentiments if Malaysia is placed on top of the US “hit list” and penalized for opposing the US-led war against Iraq and Mahathir’s outbursts
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): United States President Bush will become an unmitigated bully fanning anti-American sentiments if Malaysia is placed on top of the US “hit list” and penalized for opposing the US-led unilateral war against Iraq without United Nations sanctions and the outbursts of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
The Asian Wall Street Journal yesterday, in a front-page story entitled “Washington to Reward Its Friends”, reported that Malaysia heads the US “hit-list” in Southeast Asia for not co-operating with the Bush Administration in its unilateral-led war against Iraq.
The AWSJ report by Barry Wain said the US has “begun to reward Asia-Pacific governments that support its campaign to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and to penalize some that didn’t”.
It quoted Asian and Western diplomats as saying that the quick U.S. military victory in Iraq has “reinforced a policy that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, in which President George W. Bush’s administration is making a clear distinction between countries it can rely on and the others”.
The report said that “fresh from its battlefield success, the Bush administration – now driven largely by foreing-policy hawks – is judging countries according to where they stood on Iraq”.
It said: “Singapore and the Philippines are given high marks for their support, while Malaysia heads the U.S. hit list for not co-operating with the war effort – for example, by suspending U.S. military flights over Malaysian airspace. Thailand, the only U.S. treaty ally in Asia not to back Washington publicly, is another likely target for punishment.
“’There will be no free rides,’ declares one Asia-based U.S. ambassador. ‘All countries will be accountable for their actions.’”
It said that although Indonesia and Malaysia both opposed the US on Iraq, Washington makes a sharp distinction between the two.
It reported: “Facing the threat of popular anger among its Muslim population of about 200 million, Indonesia President Megawati Sukarnoputri had little choice but to criticize the U.S., the officials say. But Ms. Megawati’s comments were measured and the Indonesians took steps to protect American personnel and property in the country, they add.
“Malaysia, by contrast, was ‘gratuitously hostile,’ these officials say – in forums such as the Nonaligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and at the U.N. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad deeply angered the Americans by referring to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the October 2002 Bali bombing as collateral damage. That prompted the U.S. to begin lodging what became a series of official protests with the Malaysian government. Kuala Lumpur’s decision to refuse U.S. military overflights from the beginning of April forced the U.S. to divert air traffic through Singapore and Thailand, say Southeast Asian officials.”
It would be most unfortunate for Malaysia-US relations if the anti-war sentiments of Malaysians are equated with anti-American expression, putting the clock back in the longstanding good relations between the peoples of both countries.
DAP hopes that good sense will prevail in the US Administration and that the hawks are not allowed to run wild to damage the close and cordial ties that had been built up over the decades between the two countries over a whole range of relationships.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman