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.