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A Parliamentary Select Committee on International Affairs should be set up with the first task of  promoting a Malaysian as the next Commonwealth Secretary-General


Media Statement (3)       
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Petaling Jaya, Sunday) : The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has realized the urgency of deciding whether Malaysia is interested in offering a candidate for the Commonwealth secretary-general post. 

He said in Windhoek that Malaysia should not repeat an earlier case where it could not decide if it was interested in the chair of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, resulting in the country not getting all the support because other countries had already made up their decision on other candidates. 

I do not know whether Abdullah had been misreported and he was referring to the defeat of the Malaysian candidate for the post of Secretary-General of Organisation of Islamic Conference in June 2004, with the Turkish nominee appointed to head the secretariat. 

When I first raised the issue in Parliament last week of a Malaysian candidate for the post for Commonwealth Secretary-General to replace the incumbent Donald C. McKinnon, the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar admitted Wismaputra paralysis on the matter as it does not have a suitable name to be put forward as Tun Musa Hitam was not interested. 

Is Malaysia so scarce of qualified, competent and calibre material to be put forward for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General, when Malaysia can chair the OIC and Non-Aligned Movement?   

Are we so lacking in confidence in the capabilities and qualifications of Malaysians to helm international organizations like the Commonwealth? 

Having lost out once in putting forth a candidate for OIC, are we now afraid of another international rebuff in lobbying for a Malaysian to be the next Commonwealth Secretary-General?   

I fully agree with the director-general of Malaysia Think Tank London, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the first to advocate that a Malaysian should be appointed the Commonwealth Secretary-General, as the time has come for an Asian to head the organization.

The  previous secretary-generals have come from other regions, viz:

1.    Arnold Smith (Canada) 1965 – 1975.

2.    Shridath Ramphal (Guyana) 1975 – 1990.

3.    Chief Emeka Anyaoku (Nigeria) 1990 – 1999.

4.    Don McKinnon (New Zealand) 1999 – 2007.

In making his case for a Malaysian as the next Commonwealth Secretary-General, Wan Saiful said:

“At a time when the world is faced with dire conflicts and serious developmental needs, there is a lot that Malaysia can offer. Religious intolerance, racial discord, income inequalities, social exclusion, problematic delivery of education, the need for economic development, inefficient healthcare, and many more, are problems frequently encountered in many Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries. And these are problems that we in Malaysia have had to deal, or are dealing, with. A Malaysian leading the Commonwealth Secretariat will be able to bring in the wealth of experience for the benefit of the wider Commonwealth family.

“ The challenges waiting the next Secretary General is vast and diverse. The Commonwealth needs to set itself as an international power capable of balancing United States’ domination of global politics. It needs to act as the bridge between East and West. It also needs to utilize its diverse membership such that it can be the bridge between the Muslim world and others - we should remember that twelve of the fifty seven OIC members are also members of the Commonwealth.

“ The Commonwealth should also make itself a beacon of decentralised power – showing how it is possible to respect national sovereignty and allowing each country to follow its own path, while recognising the imperatives of interdependence. And it should use its diverse membership to show how free trade between countries can catalyse economic development, social progress and technological advancement throughout its network.”

Malaysia does not have much time to dilly-dally on this issue as the decision of the next Commonwealth Secretary-General would be made  in six months’ time by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala, Uganda from Nov. 23-25.

The Cabinet must have confidence that Malaysia is not short of towering figures with the requisite experience, qualities and qualifications for the post.

For a start, an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee on International Affairs should be set up before Parliament adjourns on Wednesday with the first task of identifying the Malaysian candidate and lobbying for a Malaysian to be appointed  the next Commonwealth Secretary-General at CHOGM in Kampala.              



* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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