DAP calls for an all-party roundtable conference before Parliament
reconvenes on March 10 to reach national consensus on Malaysia's role as
Chair of NAM for the next three years and a blueprint for the revitalization
of NAM to make the movement relevant to the 21st century
by Lim Kit Siang
Thursday): The Kuala Lumpur Declaration
issued at the end the 13th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit on Tuesday
called on members to be pro-active rather than reactive on international
issues and developments to ensure that NAM is at the forefront of
This is a tall order. It would in fact require a revolution in NAM as the
enormous changes required before the high hopes of the Kuala Lumpur
Declaration could become reality could be fathomed from the questions:
Did the 13th NAM Summit representing 116 member nations
representing almost two-thirds of the United Nations with six crucial votes
on the UN Security Council have any impact on the question of the looming
war in Iraq?
Did the 13th NAM Summit in Kuala Lumpur make a greater impact
than the global people power manifested two weekends ago when 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 13th NAM Summit extravaganza, which cost over RM200 million
of Malaysian taxpayers' money, and the high-sounding speeches by NAM leaders
and NAM declarations could not completely camouflage the many signs of
ineffectiveness, lack of cohesion and even impotence of NAM, despite the
record attendance of 62 heads of state and government, as evident by the
following incidents at the Kuala Lumpur NAM Summit:
Strong opposition to the revived proposal to establish a
permanent NAM secretariat sited in Malaysia in the next three years despite
high praises by NAM delegates for the "excellent organization" of the KL
Summit and the ringing call in the Kuala Lumpur Declaration that NAM should
be at the "forefront of international decision-making";
The decision to hold the 14th NAM Summit in Cuba in 2006. Cuba,
which hosted the 1979 NAM Summit, will be the second country to host the NAM
Summit twice since its formal inauguration in Yugoslavia in 1961, followed
by Egypt, Zambia, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Cuba, India, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia,
Indonesia, Colombia, South Africa and Malaysia. Despite having 116 members,
NAM finds it difficult to get a host country for its Summit. NAM would not
have regained its relevance until it has returned to the sixties and
seventies when there was a queue of countries wanting to host the NAM
summit, as it lent so much prestige and the chance of becoming the Chair of
the movement for three years in between two summits.
The test fire of a missile by a NAM member country, North
Korea, in the midst of the 13th NAM Summit in Kuala Lumpur, making a mockery
of established fundamental NAM principles of peace, general and complete
As Chair of NAM for the next three years, the heaviest
responsibility falls on Malaysia to ensure that NAM stop being the
anachronism on the world stage in the last decade of the last century and be
relevant to the 21st century, and start appearing on the global radar screen
as a "mover and shaker" of international events.
Malaysia can only play this role if there is a national consensus in the
country committing the country to such an international purpose, as it
cannot be achieved on the commitment of one man or one political party.
At the close of the KL NAM Summit, the newly-appointed Chair of NAM, Datuk
Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made it very clear that he would vacate his post
in the 116-member movement once he resigns as the fifth Prime Minister of
Malaysia in October.
He said: "I'll be here only until October. The chairmanship is not for the
individual, its for the country. So whoever leads the country will get to
act as the chairman,"
While no one would question the qualifications of the Prime
Minister-designate, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to take over the NAM
Chair from Mahathir, the question is whether Abdullah would be able to focus
adequate attention on such a global responsibility when his first priority
at least for the first few years would be to establish his authority and
legitimacy as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia.
In the circumstances, it is even more urgent and imperative that there
should be a national consensus on Malaysia's role as Chair of NAM for the
next three years so that it reflects a national will and commitment. For
this reason DAP calls for an all-party roundtable conference to be convened
before Parliament meets on March 10 to achieve a non-partisan national
consensus and to discuss a blueprint for the revitalization of NAM to make
the movement relevant to the 21st century.
The all-party roundtable conference should be followed by an National
Conference involving all political parties, NGOs, and key players in the
civil society on Malaysia's role as Chair of NAM for the next three years,
as the virtual exclusion of all opposition political opinion and the
Malaysian NGOs from full participation in the formulation of NAM agenda,
policies and directions was a major weakness of the 13th NAM Summit.
Three other initiatives that should be acted upon to prepare Malaysia to
play a meaningful leadership role as Chair of NAM for the next three years
White Paper on 13th NAM Summit and Malaysia's role as Chair of
Comprehensive parliamentary debate on the 13th NAM Summit and
how Malaysia can ensure that NAM is relevant and revitalized as first item
of parliamentary business when Parliament reconvenes on March 10.
An all-party parliamentary committee on NAM and a National
Consultative Council on NAM..
Lim Kit Siang
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National