Police must take a policy decision that the fight against terrorism is a national problem transcending partisan politics if it is to get full national support

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Sunday): The announcement by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai on Friday that the police are looking for 200 people linked to Kumpulan Militant Malaysia (KMM) and that the group had close links with Jemaah Islamiyah group in Singapore and the al-Qaeda network is the latest escalation of the presence and reach of Osama bin Ladenís al-Qaeda terrorist network in Malaysia.

In the first batch of KMM arrests under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in August last year, the police and government were at pains to deny that the KMM had any links with al Qaeda network or that Osama bin Ladenís international terrorist network had any links or cells in Malaysia.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin told Parliament last October that no link had been established between the al-Qaeda and KMM.

For six months, Malaysian police and government told the nation and the world that al Qaeda had no links, connections or cells in Malaysia, but suddenly in January this year, the government not only admitted that the al Qaeda network had recruited about 50 Malaysians into its operations in the interview of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad published by the Japanese magazine Chuokoron on January 10, this figure of the number of Malaysians with links to al Qaeda has quickly escalated to another 200 in a matter of two weeks.

Malaysians, like people all over the world, have been greatly shaken and affected by the heinous crimes perpetrated in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, killing over 3,000 innocents from over 80 countries, and will support all efforts by the government to combat and root out terrorism, whether national or international, to change society by
violent means.

However, the authorities should not expect Malaysians to give a blank-cheque in the war against terrorism and terrorist cells in Malaysia, and must take the people into its confidence to produce proof of the existence of such terrorist networks and activities.

As a two-time detainee of the Internal Security Act deprived of my personal liberty on groundless allegations, I for one would vouch for the need to subject all police and government claims concerning security to the most intense scrutiny.

It is for this reason that Police must take a policy decision that the fight against terrorism is a national problem transcending partisan politics if it is to get full national support.

It is most regrettable that up to date, the police has not acted on the DAP proposal that it should give a briefing to all political parties on the threat posed to national security by terrorism and terrorist cells in Malaysia and their links with al Qaeda.

The police must be forthcoming to take all political parties and the Malaysian people into its confidence about the terrorist and al Qaeda threat in Malaysia, and it should not delay any further in issuing a White Paper on the subject - as it would be a poor reflection on the Malaysian authorities if the Singapore government should come out with a White Paper on al Qaeda networks, cells and activities in the island republic earlier.

The Malaysian authorities must also not give room for speculation that the escalation of the number of people with al Qaeda links in Malaysia is elastic, influenced by internal political or foreign policy considerations.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman