| Saturday, 13-Oct-2001 10:58 AM
Mahathir using the WTC tragedy
to tighten his grip
by Tian Chua from Kamunting
The tumble of WTC building shocked
the world. While I was denied the privilege of watching the scene
on TV, I had tried to imagine the images of horror and tragedy.
The fall of twin tower on Sept 11 also symbolized the collapse of
public confidence in the security on the USA. Indeed citizens throughout
the world are dismayed. The terrorist group – who ever done
it –demonstrated its power to threaten the security of any
individual, in any corner of earth. That was the point the terrorist
intended to express – neither the issue of Palestine, nor
Islamic crusade, nor anti imperialism, nor anti globalization, nor
any causes of human concern – but plain terror, terror par
excellence, an expression of power to inflict maximum pain and fear.
The fear unleashed by the terrorist attack, however, should be transformed
into a maximum hysteria. The global community must console the psychical
and psychological wounds of the American people. At the same time,
the world must caution of U.S government not to reply violence with
violence. The escalation of violence does not enhance global security.
The U.S government has to respond to the provocation with great
prudence, especially careful not to alienate the larger Islamic
and third world nations. The action to arrest the responsible culprits
must avoid any innocent casualty. In the shirt term, terrorist group
must be carefully investigated and correctly identified. Those that
threatening world peace should be promptly dealt with by utilizing
the existing international mechanisms.
In the long run, the causes of terrorism must be addressed. Most
importantly global injustices have to be addressed. Only with the
elimination of oppression and exploitation, the world security can
The democratic societies of the world should also be mindful not
to lose their humanistic values in the hysteric fear of terrorism.
Civil liberties should never be compromised in the name of national
security. Anti terrorism sentiment could be expedient to many authoritarian
regimes around the world. By allying with the global campaign against
terrorism, these regimes seek support from the Western nations to
tighten their repressive rule. The West will lose the prospect of
lasting global peace if they unwillingly legitimize authoritarianism
in the process of combating international terrorism.
Dr. Mahathir is one of the dictators who have cunningly seized the
chance to justify his suppression of his politic critics. He claimed
that the ISA is in fact an instrument to prevent terrorism. In April
this year, he ordered the arrest of 10 activist of Reformasi movement
including me. He accused us for planing an armed insurgency and
subsequently 6 of us were sentenced to two years imprisonment without
trial. 2 month later, he arrested 12 supporters of P.A.S. they too
were accused to have belonged to an armed subversive group known
The Malaysian public is unlikely to be convinced. The ISA allowed
the government to arrest and detain anybody suspected of anti government
without a formal trial. This is our main objection. If the government
has concert evidence that we, the Reformasi activists as well as
the so-called KMM indeed involved in terrorist violence, we should
be brought to an open court. We challenge the government to produce
the proof in court.
Riding on the public emotion against terrorism, the Dr. Mahathir
government intends to confuse the danger of international terrorists
with legitimate political opposition. Before the WTC attack, the
authority claimed that terrorist elements had infiltrated all levels
of society – schools, universities, government departments,
civil services, mosques, religious institutions, etc. the government
even accused the so called KMM members were trained by Taliban in
Afghanistan. It is said that KMM extensive international networks
in Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Dr. Mahathir gave the world an impression that terrorists are dangerously
active in Malaysia. With the international links, they are a serious
threat to South East Asian region or even world stability. If that
is so, Dr. Mahathir should not keep us and the so called KMM behind
the tall fence of Kamunting Detention Camp. He should be completely
transparent with our subservient activities. The public have
the right to know what is the real danger they are facing? In the
view of the recent tragedy in New York and Washington, the world
has the right to know too.
If these ISA detainees truly involved in violent activities such
as bank robbery, murder, bombing, kidnapping, hijacking in Malaysia,
Indonesia and Philippines, their threat certainly go beyond our
national boundary. If all these were true, Dr.Mahathir should have
share these info with other Asian governments as well as the USA.
After all, Dr. Mahathir was amongst the first to pledge support
for an US – led global alliance against terrorism. Well, why
doesn’t Dr. Mahathir start with inviting some foreign experts
to come here to investigate our terrorists activities.
On the other hand, if Dr. Mahathir refuses to present concrete evidence
to the international community, he might be perceived as “harboring
terrorists” and risks facing international sanction. However,
Malaysians themselves hardly take Mahathir's allegation of terrorism
seriously. Deep in our heart, we all know these scare tactics are
nothing but a poor excuse to crackdown the opposition.
Dr. Mahathir’s black propaganda has a very negative impact
on our international image. His fabrication of political instability
posed by fancy armed terrorists might even convince foreign investors
and tourists to avoid Malaysia. In the current gloomy global atmosphere,
these lies will further sunken our economic downturn.
In short, Malaysia cannot avoid a genuine democracy reforms. The
continuous power manipulation by Dr. Mahathir is dragging the country
into greater disaster. For Malaysia, the ultimate solution to any
form of extremism, is to establish democratic institutions and the
respect for human values.