Terrorist incident-free ushering in of the  New Year should be incentive for  a determined all-party effort throughout 2003  to eradicate international perception of Malaysia as “terrorist centre”

Media Statement
Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Friday): All Malaysians breath a sigh of relief that Malaysia ushered in the new year without any terrorist  incident, leading the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to exult and say on Wednesday, with specific reference to the 100,000-strong  crowd at the  New Year’s Eve celebrations at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre: 

“I did not see any terrorists. This was a good chance for them to do a lot of damage as there were many people crammed into one street or area.  But last night, as far as we could see, everybody was feeling very safe; they were  celebrating, they were happy.”


He said claims that Malaysia was a dangerous country were “a lot of nonsense”.


It was not only Mahathir and the Malaysian police who were relieved at the terrorist incident-free New Year celebrations, but officials and security forces around the world who also  breathed sighs of relief on the first day of 2003 after tight security at major New Year events.


In New York city, as many as one  million people screamed and sang as the traditional crystal ball dropped at Times Square.


In Sydney, 700,000 people showed up to celebrate the New Year  at Sydney Harbour and drew the praise of the Lord Mayor Frank Sartor who said: “They didn’t listen to the doomsayers; we didn’t listen to the malcontents; we went on and celebrated and had a great party.”


In Berlin, about one  million Germans marked the New Year in a 1.5-mile street party on both sides of the landmark Brandenburg Gate.


Apart from a bomb blast in southern Philippines, the world was able to shake off the spectre of terrorism which had haunted the New Year celebrations around the globe.


But does the terrorist incident-free New Year celebrations  in Malaysia and worldwide (except for the Philippines) mean that that the ghosts of terror had been  buried for good – whether in Malaysia or in the rest of the world?


Nobody would be so foolhardy to believe so, or that it has dispelled the international perception that Malaysia is a “terrorist centre” just as no one would say that New York is now a safer place than after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


The world has continued to be a more dangerous place than 21 months ago with  the threat of terrorism world-wide   even greater in 2003 than last year.


Malaysians should not easily forget the country’s high world profile as  Malaysia was  featured prominently in international  news both before and after  the New Year celebrations on world television channels and newspapers.


For instance, many news bulletins and reports around the world approached the New Year celebrations by  kicking off a  global  round-up by referring to Malaysia’s   “tightened security around the world’s tallest buildings,  where tens of thousands of New Year’s Eve revelers were expected to watch skydivers leap from the twin towers at midnight”.  Malaysia was again featured in the post-New Year celebrations - “Daredevil skydivers threw themselves off the world's tallest buildings near midnight Tuesday and floated toward the New Year”.


The terrorist incident-free ushering in of the  New Year in Malaysia should be an  incentive for  a determined all-party effort throughout 2003  to eradicate the international perception of Malaysia as a  “terrorist centre”.


DAP stands ready with its hand of co-operation extended to  the government and all Malaysians to secure a terrorist-free Malaysia, starting with the  eradication of the international perception of the country as a “terrorist centre” which is highly detrimental to Malaysia’s economic future and well-being.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman