UMNO Youth leader Hishammuddin should
withdraw as patron and chief spokesman of the Peace Malaysia movement to
remove all doubts and suspicions that it is a proxy of a political party
by Lim Kit Siang
UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein should withdraw as patron and
chief spokesman of the Peace Malaysia movement to remove all doubts and
suspicions that it is a proxy of a political party and be replaced by a
person without such a high political profile.
Action speaks louder than words - and Hishammddin's withdrawal to the
background will achieve what all the denials, whether by UMNO Youth leaders
or non-political personalities, have failed to do, i.e. to convince
Malaysians that it is not a proxy of a political party.
Yesterday, Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman, the co-ordinator of the Peace Malaysia
anti-war rally at Bukit Jalil on Sunday, said invitations have been sent out
of the opposition parties on Jan 3 and 9, and that in fact, DAP and PAS MPs
have turned out for the Women's Forum on World Peace, another programme of
the Peace Malaysia movement.
DAP attended the inaugural meeting convened by UMNO Youth on January 3 for
the establishment of a People's Alliance for Peace Malaysia (Malaysians for
Peace) to launch a campaign against war in Iraq to coincide with the
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, as DAP always believed that on issues of
war and peace, justice and humanity, we must rise above all political
differences to work for a common higher cause.
However, DAP was unhappy with the manner the inaugural meeting was conducted
and steamrolled to suit the UMNO Youth agenda rather than to establish a
genuine coalition of all political and civil society groups on a common
platform to voice out the deep aspirations of Malaysians for peace and
against war in Iraq.
Although the DAP had great reservations with the way the Peace Malaysia
initiative was being hijacked by UMNO Youth, later giving rise to concerns
by many quarters that Peace Malaysia had become a proxy for a political
party, DAP was supportive of all efforts by any political party or group to
mobilize Malaysian public opinion against any US-led unilateral war against
Iraq. This was why the DAP had not publicly expressed our unhappiness at
UMNO Youth's ulterior motive and why DAP MPs had attended one of its
programmes, the Women's Forum on World Peace, although we did not take any
further part in its organizational activities after the inaugural meeting.
Questions that have been raised about the Peace Movement being a proxy of a
political party are valid and legitimate and cannot be shrugged off with
bald denials or fierce denunciations, and the best solution is for
Hishammuddin to withdraw as the patron and chief spokesman of the movement.
There is no shortage of eminently qualified personalities without a high
political profile who could act as the chief spokesman for Peace Malaysia.
It cannot escape notice that in the past two weeks, when Hishammuddin was
hogging the publicity limelight on various Peace Malaysia activities and
functions, he was also unusually active in attacking Opposition leaders,
particularly PAS leaders.
I am not defending PAS leaders, or saying that Hishammuddin has no right to
attack PAS leaders, but the coincidence of his high-profile role as the
chief spokesman of Peace Malaysia initiative and his high-profile attack of
PAS leaders raised the question whether he was exploiting one for the other
- reinforcing criticisms of the Peace Malaysia initiative becoming a proxy
of a political party.
Shamsul's disparagement of the peaceful demonstration outside the United
States Embassy on Saturday organized by the "Stop the War Coalition"
comprising opposition political parties and NGOs is most tactless, immature,
unfortunate and deplorable - undermining the non-partisan credibility of the
Peace Malaysia movement.
If the Peace Malaysia initiative is truly concerned about being part of a
global people's movement for peace and against war in Iraq, it should have
taken part in last Saturday's protest outside the US Embassy in Kuala
Lumpur, while continuing to organize the anti-war rally at Bukit Jalil on
Sunday to coincide with the NAM Summit.
This is because being part of the global anti-war demonstrations last
weekend is thousands time more important than being a separate and isolated
anti-war rally on Sunday, even if there is an attendance of 150,000 people.
Last weekend, up to 30 million people - including around 6 million in Europe
- in more than 600 towns and cities around the world protested and marched
against war in Iraq.
The Kuala Lumpur and Penang demonstrations against war on Saturday, though
small by comparison with the huge waves of demonstrations in other parts of
the world, were definitely more significant than any crowd for the Peace
Malaysia anti-war rally on Sunday - for the KL and Penang protestors last
Saturday were part of a global protest which did make an impact to at least
slow the United States and United Kingdom rush to war, while the Peace
Malaysia anti-war rally on Sunday would hardly be noticed on the global
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National