DAP leaders will meet the United
States Charge d’affaires Robert
A. Pollard at the United States
Embassy in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow over the US Immigration blacklisting of
Malaysia as one of the 15 “terrorist-risk” countries from October 1, from
which date “visiting aliens” to
the United States who had travelled 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”.
On Tuesday, DAP asked for an urgent meeting
with the US Ambassador, Marie Huhtala to protest over Malaysia being blacklisted
in the expanded list of 15 “terrorist-risk” states,
which will not only cause grave inconvenience and hardships to Malaysians
travelling in the United States but also highly detrimental to Malaysia’s
international image and attractiveness as a safe investment destination.
DAP leaders will meet with Pollard as the Charge d’affaires of the United
States Embassy as Marie Huhtala is overseas and will not return until next month
and will discuss three inter-related subjects:
DAP had protested strongly when two months after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington last year, Malaysia was included in the list of 26 countries with large Muslim populations and judged by the Bush Administration as presenting terrorism concerns, subjecting them to tight visa review process where all men, Muslim and non-Muslim, age 16 to 45 would have to complete a detailed questionnaire to be studied in Washington by a terrorist task force.
Besides Malaysia, countries affected by the new rules were Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Although the Bush Administration had promised at the time that it would take 20 days for such visa applications to be cleared by the Washington terrorist task force, there was recently a backlog of some 10,000 applications some of which had been outstanding for more than six months.
Malaysia had suffered the worst as well over 5,000 of this 10,000 backlog were from Malaysians, including Malaysian Chinese and Indian students from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale and MIT. Although the State Department claimed two days ago that this 10,000 backlog had been cleared by “automation and other improvements in procedure”, it had not explained how such a backlog could take place with many foreign students who went home for the summer vacation unable to get back to the United States in time for the new academic year.
The interminable delays for bona fide visitors to the United States, in particular for study, are most short-sighted, especially as the failure to halt the September 11 attacks was the result of US intelligence failure of unprecedented magnitude and not visa processing.
Now, Malaysia is to be the object of further selective discrimination, “graduating” from the blacklist of 26 countries where visa applications are subject to tight “terrorist’ screening into a more select blacklist of 15 “terrorist-risk” countries in the company of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan and Indonesia.
From the new “short-blacklist”, it would appear that countries like Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had passed the test of the United States Justice Department and are not included in the “terrorist-risk” states, unlike Malaysia.
DAP leaders would like to find out from the US Embassy how these countries passed the test, while Malaysia failed and is now lumped in the new blacklist of 15 “terrorist-risk” states - whether it is connected with the “929 Declaration” by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on September 29 last year that Malaysia is an Islamic State and the escalating UMNO-PAS competition to out-Islam and out-Islamic State each other in disregard of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the social contract and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic State, whether UMNO Islamic State or PAS Islamic State.