Four vital considerations that should inform tomorrow's special parliamentary motion and debate on the US war on Iraq

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Sunday): The Speaker, Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail has confirmed that he has received notice from the Prime Minister's Office that the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would table a special motion in the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow on the United States-led war on Iraq. (Nanyang Siang Pau)

The special parliamentary motion and debate tomorrow should be informed -by four vital considerations:

Firstly, that it should be the expression of the unanimous all-party condemnation of the US-led unilateral war against Iraq without United Nations Security Council sanction and manifestation that on this great issue of peace and war, all political parties are united as one and there should be no attempt to exploit it for any partisan purpose.

DAP fully agrees with the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad after the UMNO Supreme Council meeting on Friday that the government and opposition parties should shed their differences and speak with one voice on this important issue, and that the parliamentary debate should not be derailed and linked to other issues.

This is why the DAP had suggested yesterday that the government seek the prior agreement of all political parties in the wording of the special parliamentary motion, which should be jointly sponsored when presented by Abdullah to Parliament tomorrow - representing an unique parliamentary accord with the motion proposed by the Barisan Nasional, seconded firstly by Barisan Alternative and followed by the DAP.

Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Zainuddin Maidin yesterday called on Malaysians to watch reports on the war in Iraq by CNN and BBC with a critical mind. Shouldn't he also call on Malaysians to watch all RTM reports with a critical mind unless RTM is prepared to be journalistically superior to CNN and BBC? For a start, are RTM and the mainstream media prepared to institute fair reporting to the Opposition on the Iraq war?

Secondly, the motion and debate should be informed by ratonality and not guided by sentiments and emotions, which was the message Abdullah gave to the nation in his RTM live telecast on Thursday hours after the United States unleashed war against Iraq.

MPs for instance should not be branding the US-led attack on Iraq as an attack on Islam, call for a jihad or even trot out the proposal that Islamic nations should use the oil weapon against the West, which will be a disservice to the non-Muslims in Malaysia and worldwide who have stood up against the unjust and illegal US-led attack on Iraq, a dangerous distortion of the conflagration and catastrophe in the Middle East as well as undermine Malaysia's international reputation as a rational, sober, responsible and principled voice in the international arena.

We should also be consistent in our condemnation of the US-led war in Iraq and not undermine our own credibility with statements that cannot withstand scrutiny. The New Sunday Times editorial today, for instance, berated the "unaccountable power" of the United States for "posing the greatest threat" to the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, overlooking the fact that Malaysia had not ratified the Rome Treaty for the establishment of the International Criminal Court or that our Prime Minister had repeatedly said that Malaysia will not support the war against Iraq even if the UN Security Council sanctions the attack.

Thirdly, the parliamentary motion and debate must be fully cognizant of Malaysia's new international responsibility as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the challenges to prove that NAM is not totally irrelevant and impotent in the face of the greatest threat to international law and order for half a century posed by the US-led unilateral war against Iraq without UN sanction.

MPs should focus in their debate on the effective responses and options open to NAM, such as demanding an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to send UN forces to Iraq and convening a special session of the UN General Assembly to demand an immediate halt to the US-led war or alternatively, that the United Nations should bear a major responsibility in post-Saddam Iraq and the post-war reconstruction of Iraq to ensure that the US-led war on Iraq is not followed by the US conquest and colonization of Iraq.

As all that is needed in order to convene an emergency session of the UN General Assembly are 96 nations, there is no reason why NAM cannot be in the forefront to make such a requisition as NAM is represented by 116 member nations.

In this context, Malaysia should be particularly sensitive of its role as NAM Chair and the need to set an example to the world of the proper responses to the Iraq war by the civil society and the populace, such as allowing freedom of speech, assembly and association, and this is why the government should lift the blanket police ban on public demonstrations against the US-led war against Iraq, so long as they are peaceful and orderly. In fact, as NAM Chair, Malaysians should be in the very forefront in the world in peaceful public demonstrations against the US-led war in Iraq.

Fourthly, the special parliamentary motion and debate should be informed by the full gravity of the worst life-and-death crisis in half a century facing United Nations and internationalism - the principle of collective security and the attempt to regulate the world through representative bodies - and MPs should be fully aware that they are debating under a cloud as to whether the second Gulf War foreshadowed a new era of geopolitics, where bilateral or trilateral agreements replaces multilateralism with the re-emergence of the new law of the international jungle where might is right!


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman