Parliament next month should start off with a White Paper and comprehensive debate on the 13th NAM Summit and how Malaysia can ensure that NAM is relevant and revitalized in the three years it is Chair of the movement

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad declared at the closing of the 13th Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) Summit that the 47-year-old NAM remains as relevant as ever, that its relevance should no longer be questioned and that NAM had now been revitalized.

However, he said, the NAM members had a crucial role to play in closing ranks and strengthening their unity so as to be able to speak with one voice on issues of vital importance to the movement.

Nothing would have gladdened the hearts, rekindled the hopes and inspired the dreams of the majority of humanity represented by the 116 NAM member nations which constitute almost two-thirds of the United Nations than the rediscovery of NAM's relevance through a meaningfull process of revitalization.

It is now for Malaysia to deliver what former NAM Summits for more than a decade had failed, to fulfil the promise of a new relevance and meaningful revitalization of NAM, which cannot be achieved by high-sounding words in the closing remarks of any NAM Summit as if by a wave of the magic wand.

Malaysians must face up to the fact that it is an impossibly tall order for Malaysia, as the Chair of NAM for the next three years, to play a leading and meangingful role to ensure a new relevance and the revitalization of NAM, and that if we are serious in our NAM commitments and not just spent over RM200 million for an one-off international extravaganza, then all Malaysians must be prepared to put their shoulders to the wheel of such a national commitment by accepting it as a national challenge involving all sectors of the Malaysian society.

One of the greatest flaws of Malaysia's hosting the 13th Kuala Lumpur NAM Summit is the virtual exclusion of all opposition political opinion and the Malaysian NGOs from full participation in the formulation of NAM agenda, policies and directions.

In the post-13th NAM Summit, the first purposive action that should be taken in the next two weeks is for the government to present a White Paper to Parliament when it reconvenes on March 10, with a comprehensive parliamentary debate preceding all other parliamentary business, on the 13th NAM Summit and how Malaysia can ensure that NAM is relevant and revitalized in the three years that the country is Chair of the movement.

An all-party parliamentary committee on NAM and a Malaysian NGOs NAM co-ordinating council are among the initiatives that should be acted upon if Malaysia is serious in wanting to provide international leadership to make NAM relevant again and embark on the process of revitalization.

To claim that the relevance of NAM is unquestioned and should not be doubted just because of a two-day talk fest by NAM leaders in Kuala Lumpur is only to invite cynicism, skepticism and even ridicule - when it would be more credible and realistic for all concerned to admit that NAM's prolonged crisis of relevance should be successfully addressed in the next three years when Malaysia is the Chair of NAM.

Five years ago at the 12th NAM Summit, the Durban Declaration proclaimed "a new age - the age of the emergent nations, the age of the South, the age of renewal and renaissance, the aqe of justified hope". It concluded with the stirring peroration: "Durban must mark the turning point where the formerly dispossessed, the majority, enter into their inheritance."

The past five years between the Durban and Kuala Lumpur NAM Summits have proved none of these things - there was no new age, no renewal or renaissance, no justified hope, no turning point, and no entry into the inheritance.

Let the Kuala Lumpur NAM Summit not go into history as another exercise of "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".

I for one am very disappointed that the 13th NAM Summit had not gone beyond the oratorical pyrotechnics of the NAM leaders, for hardly any NAM leader dealt with the important and substantive issues of human dignity, justice, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and good governance which were among the Ten Points for NAM Revitalisation which I had addressed them in my Open Letters in the past two days.

In fact, whether the spirit and solidarity of the 13th Kuala Lumpur NAM Summit where NAM leaders had discovered their relevance and could with one voice on issues of vital importance will come under critical test very fast, in a matter of days - over the second resolution of the UN Security Council on Iraq disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and the looming US-led war against Iraq.

If the 13th NAM Summit has brought forth a NAM unity where NAM members can speak in one voice on the crucial issues of peace and war in the international arena, then NAM should be able to ensure that the UN Security Council is not bullied or bulldozed into war against Iraq against international opinion.

This is because NAM has six members on the UN Security Council - Angola, Guinea, Syria, Pakistan, Chile and Cameroon - and together with anyone of the four other UN Security Council members - France, Germany, Russia and China - can defeat any imperious US-UK resolution as seven votes against is needed to defeat a Security Council resolution.

Can the 13th Kuala Lumpur NAM Summit tell the world in the next one or two weeks that its relevance should no longer be questioned with an united and solid stand in the UN Security Council by the six NAM member nations on the issue of looming war in Iraq?


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman