DAP calls for a codicil to the Malaysia-Australia anti-terrorism pact to deal specifically with the Howard doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive strike in Southeast Asia

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia may review the Malaysia-Australia anti-terrorism pact if the Australian Government, particularly Prime Minister John Howard, continues to demonstrate insensitivities, arrogance and personal prejudices against other nations. 

DAP supports a review of the Malaysia-Australia anti-terrorism pact if Howard is not prepared to stop being recalcitrant and apologise for his arrogant, unfriendly and belligerent  statements on unilateral pre-emptive strike against terrorism in neighbouring countries.


At the very least, a codicil should be added to the Malaysia-Australia anti-terrorism pact to deal specifically with the Howard doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive strike in Southeast Asia.  As Australia has entered into such an anti-terrorism pact with Indonesia and Thailand, with one with the Philippines awaiting formal signing, let all countries be very clear as to whether the Howard “strike first” doctrine is recognized or repudiated by the pacts.


In the meantime, the Malaysia-Australia anti-terrorism pact should be suspended as Howard has plunged  relations between Australia and Southeast Asia to an all-time low with his public posturing completely  heedless of national sovereignty of neighbouring countries, regional concerns or international law.


If Howard is sensible, he would accept the advice of the Australian  Bishop of Grafton, Philip Huggins, to withdraw and apologise for comments which are not within the United Nations Charter’s definition of self-defence and  which  have damaged Australia's relations with its neighbours.

The international editor of Melbourne Age,  Tony Parkinson has come to Howard’s defence in an article  “Talk of pre-emptive strikes should not be taboo” which fired  a salvo at Mahathir as having “a lot to answer for”. Southeast Asia becoming a haven for the “perpetrators of terror”.


The Age article said:


“On that score, Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad, in particular, has a lot to answer for. He should be the last one to moralise. Here is a prime minister whose lax attitude to visa laws for fellow Muslims allowed a veritable foreign legion of trained killers to flood into Malaysia, and set up shop in his capital.


“The operatives of al Qaeda came from Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia. They included two of the September 11 hijackers. In January, 2000, a dozen of them convened in a Kuala Lumpur apartment to plan terrorist strikes on Western targets.


“Malaysian authorities kept watch, but no arrests were made. In that instance, as distinct from this week, the Mahathir Government seemed extraordinarily permissive about foreign military activities within its borders.


“And what of his conduct since Bali: scolding Australia over the impact of its travel warnings on tourism to the region; exercising his veto to short-circuit efforts to bring Australia closer into regional forums; a galling interview, during which he offered Australians the phoney choice of deciding whether to be Asian or Western.


“Mahathir now says Australia ‘stands out like a sore thumb’? He should know.


“He has done his darndest to keep it that way.


“Dr Mahathir's intervention in Australia's security debate should be seen for what it is: the confected indignation of a devious individual. The man has no shame.”


Mahathir does not need anyone’s defence as he is more than capable of defending himself.


However, the questions posed by The Age about Malaysia becoming a stomping ground for top al Qaeda operatives are valid ones which many Malaysians have been asking since the September 11 terrorist massacres in the United States and why DAP had repeatedly called, to no avail,  for an all-party conference on the threat and challenge of terrorism as  a national issue which transcends party differences.


It is time that the police  take Malaysians, and in particular leaders of all political parties, ruling and opposition, into its confidence with the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian  Mai, giving periodic briefings and reports about the threat and challenge of terrorism in the country and region, as well as  addressing their legitimate security concerns and fears about the police responses as to whether the police are sufficiently conscious that the strengthening and enhancement of democracy, human rights and the rule of law  to fight injustice and oppression are the strongest weapons in the battle against terrorism.  



* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman