DAP leaders to meet US Ambassador to protest that Malaysia has been blacklisted in  the group of 15  “terrorist-risk countries” from whose countries visitors  could be fingerprinted, photographed and tracked like common criminals

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): DAP leaders will ask for a meeting with the United States Ambassador to protest that Malaysia has been blacklisted  in the group of 15 “terrorist-risk” countries from whose countries visitors could be finger-printed, photographed and tracked  like common criminals in the United States  by the US immigration authorities. 

Last Thursday, WorldNetDaily (www.worldnetdaily.com)  carried an exclusive report, putting on its website, a highly sensitive four-page  US Justice Department memorandum by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) revealing that US Attorney-General John Ashcroft had  authorized  US immigration inspectors  from October 1 to fingerprint, photograph and track “visiting aliens” who have travelled to 15 “terrorist-risk” countries including  Malaysia and can’t credibly explain  their trips.  

The 15 “terrorist-risk” countries cited in the secret INS memo are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.  

Before September  5, only four countries regarded by the US as terrorist-sponsoring states, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Libya, were blacklisted and visitors from these countries subject to special screening. 

After October 1, Malaysia will be in the expanded list of 15 “terrorist-risk” countries  and  “visiting aliens” who have traveled to these countries would be subject to special screening, like being finger-printed, photographed and tracked, “if they can’t credibly explain their trips there”. 

Although the new US INS ruling does not automatically apply  to Malaysians visiting the US, it is going to be  the cause of a lot of hassle, inconvenience and even hardships to Malaysians visiting the United States apart from reinforcing and perpetuating American misperceptions that Malaysia is a “terrorist state”.  The 15 “terrorist-risk” blacklist will transform Malaysians into surrogate terrorists to many in the United States.  

The four South-east Asia countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore,  had  gained media notoriety after the September 11 terrorist attacks as the  launching-pad for terrorism and network of  al Qaeda operatives. Malaysians are rightly surprised, however,  that Malaysia should be singled out, together with Indonesia, as the two Southeast Asian countries to be blacklisted by the US Justice Department, subjecting visitors from the country to special screening like being finger-printed, photographed and tracked. 

The US Ambassador owes the Malaysian people a proper explanation for this discriminatory treatment of Malaysia.  

US media reports about Malaysia being included in the list of 15 “terrorist-risk” states made numerous uninformed and baseless comments  about Malaysia, such as the following in the WorldNetDaily report “INS to vet Indonesia, Malaysia travelers – Nations among 15 mostly Muslim states that fall under secret criteria”:

“Fewer than half of Malaysians are Muslim, but Islam is still the official religion there, says Ph.D. historian Serge Trifkovic, author of ‘The Sword of the Prophet: Islam History, Theology, Impact on the World.’ Import and sale of the Bible in Malay is banned, he says, and it's against the law for a Muslim to convert to Christianity or other religions.

“Much of the population there is sympathetic to al-Qaida's brand of militant Islamic supremacy and is radically anti-American. During the bombing campaign in Afghanistan, for example, tens of thousands of protestors in Malaysia chanted: ‘Go to Hell, America’ and ‘Destroy America,’ notes Mideast scholar Daniel Pipes, author of ‘Militant Islam Reaches America.’

“Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaz al-Hazmi, were among al-Qaida operatives who met in Malaysia in January 2000. They were joined at the meeting by Tawfiq Attash Khallad, an al-Qaida leader accused of masterminding the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000. “

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should make a ministerial statement in Parliament on Malaysia being singled out for the first time for US  immigration restrictions and blacklisted  in the group  of 15 “terrorist-risk countries” and the outcome of his recent visit to the  United States to impress on the Bush Administration not to brand Malaysia as a terrorist state or as having links with terrorism.  

Parliament and the Malaysian people are entitled to know whether the US Vice President Dick Cheney had been open and frank in his meeting with Abdullah in Washington when the Malaysian leader told him that Malaysia does not like to be branded as a terrorist state or as having links with terrorists or any such profiling. 

It is now clear that when Abdullah met Cheney last week, the Bush Administration had already taken a policy decision to blacklist Malaysia and lumped it in the group of  15 “terrorist-risk” warranting the special screening of  visitors from  the country  by the US immigration authorities. Did Cheney inform Abdullah of Malaysia being in the new US blacklist of 15 “terrorist-risk” states?  

DAP leaders will want to find out from the US Ambassador whether the Prime Minister’s “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State had been one contributing factors for the  Bush Administration’s decision to blacklist Malaysia with the group of 15 “terrorist-risk” states and under what circumstances Malaysia could be removed from the list of “terrorist-risk” countries.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman