Wednesday, June 21, 2006

VINTAGE MAHATHIR

Nearly 15 years ago, Malaysia launched a courageous diplomatic effort that woke the world up to the genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and, ultimately, helped stop the war.

I was there, reporting on behalf of the Business Times, the day Wisma Putra told the former Yugoslavia's ambassador to pack his bags and leave Malaysia. At the Jakarta Non-Blok (Non-Aligned Movement) conference in 1992, which I covered with KP Waran from NST and Wong Chun Wai from The Star, Dr Mahathir told the US to stop playing God and then he got NAM to sack former Yugoslavia for good measure.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was then the Foreign Minister.

At the Perdana Global Peace Forum today Prof Francis A. Boyle recalled those years and paid tribute to Malaysia and Dr Mahathir for our role in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

And he asked us to do it again. "You helped the Bosnians. You can help the Iranians."

(Boyle serves as counsel for Bosnia and Herzegovina in Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia (Serbia and Mentenegro)) currently pending before the International Court of Justice.)

He spoke at the Perdana Global Peace Forum in Putrajaya today, which was attended by foreign dignitaries, Malaysian NGOs, peace activists, journalists, and a small group of invited bloggers (including the two whose blogs have been banned by the NSTP).

Another panelist Dennis Halliday, who was the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, said NAM must not underestimate its power within the UN. It can put pressure on the world body to act on America's threat to invade Iran.

Hans-Christof von Sponeck, the man responsinble for directing all UN operations in Iraq, managing the distribution of goods under the Oil for Food programme and verifying Iraqi compliance with that programme Msia spoke out at UN, was also a panelist. (He resigned in Feb 2000 in protest of the international policy toward Iraq, including sanctions).

He also spoke of Malaysia's role at the UN "during those days".

"Malaysia was not a permanent member of the Security Council but it had the courage to speak out against the Big Five. It never ceased to inspire us," he told the forum.

Dr Helen Caldicott, a scientist/physician from Down Under, painted a most horrifying scenario in the event that America decides to drop its depleted-uranium nuclear bombs on Iran's nuclear power facilities (Iran does not have nuclear weapons, it has nuclear energy plants, she said).

Within 48 hours, she said, 2.5 million people will die and 10.5 million more will be exposed to radiation. We in Malaysia will also get some of that radiation.

Dr Mahathir, who chaired the forum, which was attended by more than 300 people (the Perdana Leadership Foundation invited only 150, including 20 bloggers) had no nice words to say about the perpetrators of the invasion of Iraq and the impending invasion of Iran.

I will not repeat his comments on Bush or Blair, or the OIC, here but I can tell you one thing - his "scathing attacks" aimed at the Abdullah adminstration, which riled the PM's editors and ministers, sounded almost soothing in comparison.

Go and catch (the real) Vintage Mahathir and the other panelists at the Putra World Trade Centre tomorrow for the public forum on the Perdana Global Peace Forum. From 9am to 4pm. It'll be worth your time.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:08 pm

    be prepared to see our dignity, integrity and pride go down the drain.
    you cannot get another leader like tun dr mahathir. he did so much forus and for our country.
    make no mistake, i was one of the thousands very very very very angry with him for sacking anwar. not that anwar was a saint or impeccable. no. but we did suffer the consequences of that as a nation. foreigners mocked us. it split the country. etc etc etc...
    but dr m remained unrelenting, unflagging. to this day.
    when i went to study in the US in in the late 70s, i had to explain to americans where malaysia was. later, travelling became a majorpart of my work..that was the time dr m became PM. he put malaysia on the MAP. people knew us, recognised us. it got better and better. stronger and stronger.
    and when i saw the proton on London streets, i was so so proud.
    well, my fellow malaysians, brace yourselves. we have been reduced to a fawning, psychophantic and pengecut people.

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  2. Anonymous3:11 pm

    we are already so happy if singapore wants to speak to us. we feel so grateful if the americans pat us on our heads....
    we will not know what hit us when proton goes way down the radar, when thousands lose their jobs...
    but i can tell you, some of us will know.

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  3. We lost our pride the day Dr.Mahathir retired. Before Oct 2003 Malaysia was feared by the superpower but now even the 'tiny mould' nation is taking us for a ride (and surely a round of golf). Though we continued to chair both the OIC and NAM, both the grouping lost its effectiveness the day Dr.M passed the baton.
    Be frank and ask yourself, where are we...where is our standing in grave international issues now. The answer is on the wall "We are nowhere and even when we say something (which is as rare as the leatherback turtles in Rantau Abang now) nobody gives a damn.
    Even in the OIC...not even a single Muslim nations talks about Malaysia now. We were supposed to be involved in a "trade pact" with Lebanon to capture the European Market for our products but even Beirut has lost confidence in Kuala Lumpur (read - Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his kitchen cabinet).
    The days when Dr.M was PM were the days when we had great pride in calling ourselves MALAYSIANS.
    Be it a poor African nation or a wealthy Arab territory..Dr.M comands great respect (until now).
    His without fear or favour statements pertaining international issues not only lifted his but also the nation's status in the eyes of the world.
    Be it Nelson Mandela or the victims in Bosnia ... Dr.M had a role in their struggles and achievements.
    We can keep on looking back but what the future holds for the future generation seems scary if Abdullah continues as the PM for another term.
    Twenty years ago ... foreigners will ask where is Malaysia when you tell them we are Malaysians. "Oh..is it north of Singapore ..or south of Thailand"...were famous quotes then. Dr.M came in in 1981 and with a strong 'fire in his belly'..changed that notion. He virtually dragged the whole nation towards betterment and instilled pride in each and every Malaysian. Only IDIOTS would term the Malaysia Boleh war cry as a mere slogan.
    In 22 years... things changed dramatically... the old quotes of "where is Malaysia?..changed and became...oh! You have the tallest twin towers in the world....oh! Dr.Mahathir is your Prime Minister'. (not to say the publicity given by F1 fans..:-)
    But where are we now...what has happened to us. We don't say anything concrete about Palestine, Iraq, Iran or any other matter. But then again... how could we, when Elegant Silence is the rule of the day.

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  4. Anonymous6:48 pm

    Paramedic:

    Even in the OIC...not even a single Muslim nations talks about Malaysia now.
    Kenyataan ini memang benar! Isteri saya yang bekerja di Tabuk, Kingdom Of saudi Arabia, berkata bahawa kawan-kawan antarabangsanya yang sama-sama mencari makan di luar negeri sebaik sahaja ekonomi Malaysia membeku, tidak tahu Malaysia dan tidak mengenali Perdana Menteri Malaysia Sekarang, Tetapi apabila beliau menyebut sebaleknya apabila di sebut nama Dr Mahathir mereka menyebut " Oh! Malayzia!.." dengan mata yang berlalak!
    -paramedik (Dah susah cari makan dibumi sendiri)

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