Abdullah should attend the international tsunami summit in Jakarta on Thursday to demonstrate not only Malaysia’s highest-level support for rescue, relief and recovery efforts in the global humanitarian catastrophe particularly affecting Aceh but also to represent NAM and OIC both of which Malaysia is currently chair
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should attend the international tsunami summit in Jakarta on Thursday (Jan 6) to demonstrate not only Malaysia’s highest-level support for rescue, relief and recovery efforts in the global humanitarian catastrophe particularly affecting Aceh but also to represent the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) both of which Malaysia is currently chair.
The international tsunami summit, which was announced by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday after a special cabinet meeting on the earthquake-tsunami disasters, has received the support of the United Nations and the United States and Australian governments.
Indonesian Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirajuda, said that heads of state or their special representatives from the tsunami-affected countries, as well as major aid donors and international organisations, have been invited to the international tsunami summit to formulate a co-ordinated response to the Asian tsunamis.
He expressed the hope that the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations, as well as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, would attend. Also invited would be representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, Asian Development Bank and European Union.
Malaysia has a great vested interest in ensuring effective international co-operation in all future Asian tsunami disasters, especially with findings by Indonesian geologists that Sunday’s magnitude-9 earthquake, which generated deadly tsunamis stretching across nearly 4,000 miles, 12 countries and six time zones, has made the Sumatra island more vulnerable to more major earthquakes and tsunamis in the future.
Malaysia should also respond to the appeal by the head of the United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director, James Morris, to governments to provide more cargo aircrafts and helicopters to break the logjam of tons of relief supplies beginning to arrive in Indonesia but piling up 300 miles away in Medan to the south so that they could be immediately delivered to the tsunami victims in Aceh.
As the closest ASEAN neighbour, Malaysia should dispatch a Cabinet Minister to be based in Aceh to direct and co-ordinate Malaysia’s relief operations, including the deployment of Royal Malaysian Air Force aircrafts and helicopters to help ensure that the thousands of boxes filled with drinking water, crackers, blankets and medical supplies piling up in an airport hangar in Medan because of logistical nightmares are immediately transported to the disaster zones in Aceh to reach the millions of tsunami victims, many of whom have been without basic necessities for a week.
As closest neighbour to Indonesia as well as Chair of Non-Aligned Movement and Organisation of Islamic Conference, Malaysia should play a leading role to mobilize international opinion, resources and resolution for more effective tsunami early-warning systems, which is why the opportunity should be seized to extend the two-day special sitting of Parliament on January 18 – 19 for an urgent parliamentary debate on the tsunami disaster.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman