Call on Foreign Minister Hamid Albar to impress on Colin Powell Malaysian and international concerns about US stand on the issues of the war against terrorism, the Middle East, Iraq and the International Criminal Court

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The United States Secretary of State Colin Powell will be arriving in Kuala Lumpur on an overnight visit on his first trip to Malaysia as US  Secretary of State  and he has said that he would be on a “listening mode”. 

The Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar should ensure that Colin Powell hears the Malaysian and international concerns about the US stand on a variety of international issues, in particular on the war against terrorism, the Middle East, Iraq and the International Criminal Court, viz: 

(1) War against terrorism 

The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson recently said that the US war on terrorism is encoruaging less democratic countries to reduce human rights in the name of security and that countries accused of violating human rights have been using crackdowns in the United States and Europe since Sept. 11 to justify their own abuses. 

Governments from the United States to South Korea had rushed through laws since Sept. 11 giving themselves emergency powers with little regard for human rights.  

The Malaysian government on its own may not be concerned about the serious erosion of civil liberties in the name of combating terrorism, but Syed Hamid  should convey  the strong and unanimous view of protest  of the Malaysian Opposition and the civil society on this issue to Colin Powell, although he could qualify it with the government’s different position. 

(2) The Middle East

The major US policy shift in the United Nations Security Council that it would only consider Mideast resolutions that explicitly condemn Palestinian terrorism marks a greater gung-ho attitude to use its veto power to kill resolutions which condemn Israel for acts of terrorism 

The United States, which acts as Israel's protector in the Security Council, has used its powerful veto in favour of Israel  in the past but it had  never laid out conditions for consideration of resolutions.

The Bush administration is taking US unilateralism to new and irresponsible heights. 

The failure of the Bush administration to rein in Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, allowing the dastardly  Israeli air strike on the Hamas military leader in Gaza in order to sabotage Palestinian peace efforts, killing 15 including nine children, and its stubborn refusal to curb the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, are the latest examples of the total lack of even-handedness in the US handling of the Mideast conflict. 

Syed Hamid should express strongly and forthrightly to Powell Malaysia’s disappointment at the failure of the Bush administration to live up to its  claim that it wants to broker a full and  fair solution to the Palestinian question.

(3)  Iraq  

Syed Hamid must express the Malaysian government and people’s horror at Bush’s obsession at launching a war against Iraq to oust its leader Saddam Hussein, with speculation that the US-led invasion of Iraq could come as early as October this year. 

Let it not be said that it takes a rogue state to know a rogue state – with US unilateral policies running riot, undermining the very principle of democracy in international relations by refusing to submit itself to democratic consensus. 

Syed Hamid should ask Powell how the US could convincingly tout the virtues of international law and global standards of human rights while exempting itself from practicing them? 

(4) The International Criminal Court  

Hamid should not just  declare Malaysia’s  opposition to the US demand for immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its global peacekeepers, but should place on top of the agenda  of his meeting with Powell Malaysia’s urging that the United States ratify the Rome Treaty to give full recognition to the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

The Bush administration’s irresponsible unilateralism  starting with the "unsigning" of the Rome Treaty establishing the ICC  and now the US demand for immunity for US soldiers  from prosecution before the new court for any action they may take in their roles as global peacekeepers should be censured.

However, Malaysia’s stand can only be credible if the government announces ratification of the Rome Treaty before  Syed Hamid’s meeting with Powell.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman