DAP offers co-operation to BN Government in campaign to eliminate the growing international perception of Malaysia as "terrorist centre" and "home to al-Qaeda terrorists" before it takes deep root in the international psyche

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Two high-profile international media reports about the Bali bombings investigations yesterday are the latest salutary reminders of the urgency to stamp out the growing international perception of Malaysia as a "terrorist centre" and "home to al Qaeda terrorists" before it takes deep root in the international psyche:

  • Firstly, re-enactment by the three main suspects of the deadly Bali bombings on October 12 which killed about 200 people, viz: Mukhlas, alias Ali Gufron, the alleged Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) operations chief for the Bali bombings; Imam Samudra, believed to have masterminded the bombings; and Amrozi, a younger brother of Mukhlas, who is said to have provided the van used in the blast. All three were Malaysian permanent residents and, according to intelligence reports, had a fairly long history of training and preparation for the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist operations when they were resident in Malaysia.

  • Secondly, the reports splashed over CNN, BBC, Commonwealth and European television that the Indonesian Police were looking for two Malaysians among six new people wanted in connection with the Oct. 12 Bali bombings, namely Ashari and Noor Din Muhamad Top.

Five days after the Bali bomb blasts, Jakarta Post reported, quoting unnamed intelligence sources, that a Malaysian and a Yemen national had led the Bali bombing, which seemed corroborated by the Malaysian police when a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press on October 17 that the Malaysian police believed that an alleged Malaysian bomb expert, former university lecturer and suspected JI member Azahari Husin, 45, was "likely to have had a hand in the bombing".

AP quoted the government official as saying that Azahari had received extensive bomb-making training in Afghanistan before 2001 and "is well trained in all types of bombs, especially remote-controlled explosives" and "has experience in handling large amounts of explosives".

Strangely enough, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai was reported on the same day as categorically asserting that no Malaysian had been involved in the Bali bombing saying that he had contacted and been informed by his counterpart in Jakarta. (The Star 18.10.2002)

Can Norian Mai now clarify his denial two months ago which has proven to be untrue, with the Indonesian Police openly hunting for Azahari?

It is most unfortunate and tragic that there is not sufficient awareness among the national leaders, including Cabinet Ministers, about the far-reaching repercussions if the perception that Malaysia is a 'terrorist centre" (which the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad acknowledged in his recent Hari Raya Aidilfitri address) and "home to al Qaeda terrorists" is deeply entrenched in the international psyche.
Cabinet Ministers and Barisan Nasional leaders (the worst example being the Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin) seem to be blissfully unaware of the adverse economic and political fall-out of the Oct. 12 Bali bombings, 13 months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, which have been likened to "a radioactive cloud over Southeast Asia, poisoning the region long after the sound of the explosion has died away".

Only history can tell whether the world is set for a decade and not a century of terrorism, especially as no government has a clue how to fight terrorism without creating more terrorists.

But Malaysian leaders and public opinion must be alive to the grave danger to Malaysia caused by the constant and almost daily barrage in the international media linking Malaysia with terrorism, Jemaah Islamiyah and al Qaeda, reinforced by reports such as the recent publication by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) on 11th December entitled "How the Jemaah Islamiyah Terrorist Network Operates" virtually describing Malaysia as a launching pad for al Qaeda-linked JI terrorist bombings and attacks in South East Asia since 1999,

The immediate stamping out of the international misperception of Malaysia as a "terrorist centre" and "home to al Qaeda terrorists" must be the top urgent national priority involving the efforts and commitments of all political parties, all religious groups, the civil society and all Malaysians.

This is the time for Malaysians to put aside all our political and religious differences, and as an example, DAP offers co-operation to the Barisan Nasional government in the campaign to eliminate the growing international perception that Malaysia is a "terrorist centre" and "home to al Qaeda terrorists".

As a first step, the Cabinet should take the policy decision to convene a National Roundtable Conference involving all political parties (government and opposition), all religious groups, NGOs, trade unions, professional groups and representatives from all cross sections of the civil society, to identity the reasons for the alarming internationalization and deepening of the misperception that Malaysia is a "terrorist centre" and "home to al Qaeda terrorists" as well as to formulate a national and international strategy to counter, arrest and eliminate the misperception.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman