Parliament should be the first Parliament in the world tomorrow to
unanimously reject the March 17 ultimatum and any unilateral US-led war
on Iraq without UN sanction
by Lim Kit Siang
Sunday): The Malaysian Parliament,
which will be officially opened by the Yang di Pertuan Agong tomorrow for
its fifth session, has the opportunity to become the first Parliament in
the world to spearhead international opinion by an unanimous vote to
reject the March 17 ultimatum and any unilateral United States-led war
on Iraq without United Nations sanction.
The world is poised perilously on the razor’s edge of war following
the delivery of the March 17 ultimatum by Britain in an amendment to the
draft United Nations Security Council resolution which it co-sponsored
with the United States and Spain, with the US giving notice of a vote on
the UN security council resolution “from Tuesday onwards”.
An attack on Baghdad could come even sooner than March 17, as
Washington and its allies might even go to war earlier than the date set
down in the ultimatum if the resolution fails to win the backing of the UN
With the high international stakes involved in the March 17 ultimatum
resolution, DAP supports the French proposal of a security council summit
in New York for the leaders of the security council members to decide
between war and peace in the vote next week.
With a war resolution expected to come to a vote “from Tuesday
onwards”, the world has less than 60 hours to mobilize international
opinion on the most important decision to be taken by the international
community in the new millennium.
The Malaysian Parliament, which begins in formal session tomorrow, has
the fortuitous opportunity to be the first Parliament in the world in
the short span of some 60 hours before the crucial vote by the UN
Security Council to lead world opinion against the March 17 ultimatum and
any unilateral United States-led war on Iraq.
So far, two Parliaments in the world had made distinctive global
impacts in the international debate and the decision-making process of a
second Gulf War - the British House of Commons on February 26 when 198
MPs, including 121 Labour Party backbenchers who defied a three-line whip,
staged a cross-party revolt against British Prime Minister Tony Blair for
his rush to war with US against Iraq, and theTurkish Parliament on 2nd
March rejecting permission to allow 62,000 American troops to use Turkey
as a launching pad for the northern front in a U.S.-led offensive against
Let 10th March be pencilled into world history as the date
when the Malaysian Parliament became the first Parliament in the world to
solidly and unanimously reject the March 17 ultimatum or any United
States-led unilateral war on Iraq without UN sanctions.
However, if the Malaysian Parliament is to make a signal contribution
in the global debate on peace and war in the 21st century, it
must break from tradition by having an emergency debate on the March 17
ultimatum tomorrow immediately after the official opening by the Yang di
According to parliamentary practice and tradition, after the Royal
Address to the joint session of the two Houses of Parliament tomorrow,
the Dewan Rakyat would adjourn after the official opening of Parliament
till Tuesday for the start of its working meeting.
The grave issues of war and peace, with the security council set to
vote on the March 17 ultimatum “from Tuesday onwards”, cannot wait and the
Malaysian Parliament should reconvene on the same day from 2.30 p.m.
onwards to debate and vote on the world’s first parliamentary rejection of
the March 17 ultimatum and any US-led unilateral war on Iraq – even if the
debate has to go on till midnight.
It would be even better if the emergency debate on the March 17
ultimatum could be held by a joint session of both Houses of Parliament,
since both the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara have been convened to a joint
session on the occasion of the ceremonial opening of Parliament tomorrow.
Such a debate by a joint session of both Houses of Parliament will be a
historic first for Malaysia, and will lend added weight to an unanimous
vote by the first Parliament of the world to reject the March 17 ultimatum
and any US unilateral-led war on Iraq.
The Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should have
an emergency meeting with Opposition leaders in Parliament to reach
agreement on such a historic debate by a joint session of both Houses of
Parliament tomorrow for the Malaysian Parliament to be the first
Parliament in the world to lead international parliamentary opinion
against the March 17 ultimatum and any US unilateral-war against Iraq
without UN sanction.
* Lim Kit Siang,