DAP proposes three-point strategy to eradicate in the shortest possible time the international perception that Malaysia is a "terrorist centre" to save the country from adverse international economic consequences

opening of the Segambut DAP Branch  
by Lim Kit Siang

(Segambut, Sunday): One of the greatest challenges facing Malaysians this year is how to eradicate, in the shortest possible time, the international perception that Malaysia is a "terrorist centre" .

Although the international perception that Malaysia is a 'terrorist centre", the launching pad of international terrorist atrocities like the dastardly September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States which killed 3000 lives and the Oct. 12 Bali bombings which killed another 200, is most ridiculous and outrageous, Malaysians must take the international perception seriously, when even the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had to publicly acknowledge it in his recent Hari Raya Aidilfitri Address.

DAP proposes a three-point strategy to eradicate in the shortest possible time the international perception that Malaysia is a "terrorist centre" to save the country from the adverse international economic consequences of such a perception:

Firstly, an all-party/religions/NGOs National Round-Table Conference to work out a national and international strategy to eradicate the international perception that Malaysia is a "terrorist centre" in the shortest possible time, particularly through a national consensus condemning terrorism as against the Malaysian way of life and equally important, that the best way to counter terrorism is to enlarge democracy and human rights and not the reverse.

Secondly, a Government White Paper on the al Qaeda-linked terrorist networks, sleeper cells and activities in Malaysia in the past decade, to eradicate the international perception that Malaysia is a "terrorist centre" by debunking the mountainous pile of adverse reports in the international media as well as by international organizations, like the United Nations Security Council Monitoring Group on al Qaeda and the latest report of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) entitled "How the Jemaah Islamiyah Terrorist Network Operates".which fingered Malaysia prominently as the hub and launching-pad of al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist networks and the series of devastating bombing sprees in Southeast Asia in the past few years.

The Singapore Government has announced that it would make public a White Paper on Jemaah Islamiah (JI) next Friday, ahead of a parliamentary debate on it scheduled for January 20, to explain to Singaporeans the most serious security issue confronting them.

It has been reported that the Singapore White Paper would be divided into five main sections, viz:

  • The first on the various Islamic terrorist groups in South-east Asia and how they are connected.

  • The second on the JI and its ties with other radical militant groups.

  • The third on the development of the JI in Singapore.

  • The fourth on the recommendations of the Internal Security Act Advisory Board which had reviewed the case of JI detainees.

  • The fifth on how Singapore may protect itself from the terrorism threat.

In the past 18 months, the DAP had made umpteenth calls for a Government White Paper to take Malaysians into its confidence about the threat of terrorism in the country.

My first call for a White Paper went as far back as 4th August 2001, a day after the first announcement by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai in Johore Bahru on the arrest of eight men including a PAS Youth leader under the Internal Security Act for involvement in KMM - at that time explained as Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia although later changed to Kumpulan Militant Malaysia.

Norian Mai alleged at the time that the eight had undergone holy war or military training in Afghanistan and that the KMM, which had international terrorist links, was linked to the murder of Lunas assemblyman Dr. Joe Fernandez in November 2000 and other major crimes such as "murders, attempted murders and robberies".

The police said it stumbled into the KMM following the botched bank robbery of the Southern Bank in Petaling Jaya on May 18, 2001 - although most shockingly, the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung in Parliament on Oct. 12 last year contradicted Norian Mai and exonerated KMM and said that KMM had not been involved in any robbery case.

A Government White Paper is urgently needed to address the many queries and doubts about the government's handling of the terrorist threat in the country, including whether there had been a massive intelligence failure on the terrorist activities, sleeper cells and networks of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah in the past decade.
DAP will be asking for an appointment with Norian Mai on the many questions about the government handling of the terrorist threat.

Thirdly, a conscious, deliberate and sensitive programme by all political parties, whether government or opposition, religious groups and NGOs to send out the clear, strong and unmistakable message that Malaysia is not a "terrorist centre" because of the nation's 45-year commitment since Independence to a democratic, secular and multi-religious Constitution and national way of life, with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state.
In this connection, the recent call by the leaders of Indonesia's two largest Islamic organizations for an end to efforts to get syariah law enforced in the country is most significant and should be given serious consideration by Malaysians.

On New Year's Eve, Ahmad Syafii Maarif, chairman of the Muhammadiyah, whose organization has about 30 million adherents, said: "There is no need to press ahead with the struggle for syariah. We should take the substance of Islamic values and implement them in Indonesia, not the symbols."

He said that if Muslims pressed on with religious formalities such as syariah or the establishment of an Islamic state, they would collide with other religious communities in the pluralistic nation.

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) chairman Hasyim Muzadi said: "Struggling for syariah to be enforced in Indonesia is not realistic. What we need is to develop universal values for people's prosperity."

Head of an organization of about 40 million supporters, Hasyim said Muslims as well as followers of other faiths should promote religious values that were compatible with national interests.

If such voices of moderation can be the mainstream opinion in a country which is the home to the most Muslims in the world, constituting some 88 per cent of the Indonesian population of 230 million, it should be the guiding voice and principle for Malaysia which is a more pluralistic nation than Indonesia.

The response of PAS to the calls by Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah is most disappointing, as the PAS vice president Datuk Dr. Hassan Ali has been quoted by Star as criticizing them for being "not sensitive" to efforts by other countries trying to establish syariah as the primary law where most of the people were Muslims.

Hassan reiterated that in Malaysia, PAS is "on course" and will "hold steadfast to the cause to establish an Islamic state based on syariah" - which is not only against the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the "social contract" and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement but also the 1999 Barisan Alternative Manifesto "Towards A Just Malaysia".
Both PAS and UMNO should give deep and serious consideration to the calls by Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammidiyah and take effective measures to assure Malaysians and the world that Malaysia will keep faith with the 45-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state, with PAS withdrawing the Syariah Criminal Enactments in Terengganu and Kelantan while UMNO withdrawing the the "929 Declaration" that Malaysia is an Islamic State made by the Prime Minister at the Gerakan national delegates' conference on Sept. 29 2001. 


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman