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
the United States to South Korea had rushed through laws since Sept. 11 giving
themselves emergency powers with little regard for human rights.
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.
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.
Malaysia’s stand can only be credible if the government announces ratification
of the Rome Treaty before Syed
Hamid’s meeting with Powell.