Speech on the PM’s motion on the White Paper on Islamic State
Call for Parliamentary Select Committee to mobilise support for moderation and draft laws and measures to deal with the Islamic State threat
DAP welcomes the White Paper “Ke Arah Menangani Ancaman Kumpulan Islamic State” and the Prime Minister’s motion seeking Parliament’s support with Government’s efforts to deal with the Islamic State threat and to “menyeru semua lapisan rakyat Malaysia mempergiatkan usaha dan komitmen mereka untuk bersama-sama menyokong Kerajaan menangani ancaman berkenaan”.
Before I proceed further, let me state that the White Paper on the Islamic State is one of the three unfinished business which Najib should have completed in the present meeting of Parliament which ends tomorrow.
While welcoming the White Paper on Islamic State, I want to place on record the people’s disappointment and disapproval that the Prime Minister has refused to complete the other two unfinished business before Parliament adjourns tomorrow, viz:
Firstly, the Report of the Royal Commission of Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS), which is meant to end once-and-for-all the 40-year problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah which had multiplied 15 to 19 times in four decades from 100,000 in the seventies to 1.5 million to 1.9 million at present.
The Report of the RCIIIS was presented to the Federal Government on May 14, and the Prime Minister’s failure to present it to Parliament for more than six months and to allow for a full parliamentary debate, can only mean one thing – the complete absence of political will of the Barisan Nasional Federal Government and confirming that the RCI was just a Barisan Nasional ruse to secure votes from the Sabah voters for the 13GE in May last year.
The establishment of the Joseph Pairin Kitingan RCIIIS Report Review Committee – with no details as to who are its members, its terms of reference and time frame – is just the latest in a 40-year “merry-go-round” sleight-of-hand to kick the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah into the distant and indefinite future until the population of illegal immigrants in Sabah exceed the two million mark, completely changing the political demography and socio-economic landscape, reducing native Sabahans into strangers and a minority in their own land.
Twenty-eight years ago in Parliament in 1986, I had warned that if the illegal enfranchisement of illegal immigrants in Sabah continued unimpeded, in a matter of three years, the demographic distribution of the 48 state assembly seats with 21 Kadazan majority seats, 8 Chinese majority seats and 19 Malay majority seats would be so altered and gerrymandered that it could end up as 16 Kadazan majority seats, 2 Chinese majority seats, and 30 Malay/Filipino/Indonesian seats.
The people of Sabah are entitled to know whether the political demography would be further aggravated and worsened in another electoral constituency redelineation and this is one reason why immediate publication and implementation of the Report of the RCIIIS is imperative.
Although tomorrow is the last day of the current budget meeting of Parliament, it is still possible for the Report of the RCIIIS to be presented before Parliament adjourns tomorrow as the RCIIIS Report had been submitted to the Federal Government for six-and-a-half months, and I urge the Prime Minister to issue a directive for the Report of the RCIIIS to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow, followed by a parliamentary debate.
Secondly, a Ministerial statement by the Prime Minister –cum-Finance Minister on the roiling multi-billion ringgit 1MDB scandal and assurance that he is not trying to shut down public and parliamentary query and debate on the latest financial scandal by the threat of legal suit against the DAP MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua.
In fact, Najib should give a public undertaking that his threat of a legal suit against Tony Pua will not be used to shut down any public questioning of any aspect of 1MDB deals.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister had asked: “Where have we gone wrong?”,
This is one aspect where the Barisan Nasional Government have gone wrong.
I can still remember vividly that when Hussein Onn was the third Prime Minister, he insisted on tabling a White Paper in Parliament in 1979 on the Price Waterhouse Report on the Bank Rakyat scandal, which involved malpractices, mismanagement and misuse of public trust and funds to the tune of RM65 million.
This sum is now chickenfeed, for financial scandals are in the tens of billions of ringgit which do not cause the Prime Minister or Finance Minister (or one who is both) to bat an eyelid!
If Hussein Onn was prepared to table a White Paper on a RM65 million financial scandal, why has Najib refused to submit to parliamentary accountability and to issue a Ministerial statement on the multi-billion ringgit 1MDB scandal?
Again, it is not too late as a Ministerial statement on the 1MDB scandal could be tabled in Parliament tomorrow, and I urge Najib to do so.
Coming back to the subject at hand, the White Paper on the Islamic State threat, Najib is probably the only head of government in the world to have publicly praised the Islamic State (formerly ISIL/ISIS) terrorists, when he exhorted UMNO members on June 24 to emulate what he described as the “brave exploits” of ISIL/ISIS for UMNO to survive.
Although Najib has since denounced Islamic State unambiguously and unconditionally at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 26, it had not been able to completely wipe out the horror of his ill-advised initial praise of Islamic State in June.
The White Paper indicated that the authorities had been tracking the activities of Malaysians suspected of being related to Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2012, and if so, Najib owes Parliament and the nation a proper explanation how he could be so badly advised as to publicly accord praise to ISIL/ISIS terrorists for their “brave exploits” five days before the declaration of the IS caliphate by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on June 29, 2014 – showing either poor security intelligence or abysmal judgment by the Prime Minister.
However, when Najib made amends and unambiguously and unconditionally denounced Islamic State when he spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 27, 2014, I did not hesitate to immediately commend him for his speech and his call on the global community to defeat violent extremism and religious intolerance.
I had earlier urged Najib to unambiguously and unconditionally denounce Islamic State in his United Nations General Assembly speech for three reasons:
- Firstly, Najib’s laudatory first reference to ISIL/ISIS on June 24, akin to glorification, which sent out a wrong message about Malaysia’s stand against Islamic militants, extremists and terrorists. In fact, former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir was incensed by Najib’s initial praise for ISIL/ISIS, coming out with a downright condemnation of ISIS on August 16 while making the caustic comment “I do not know if he knew what he was saying, but if Malaysia emulates Isis, this country will not be stable. Malaysia will become a very violent country.”
- Secondly, the daily ISIS sadistic and horrific human rights violations, including targeted killings, trafficking, sexual abuse, abductions, forced conversions and beheadings which run contrary to the Global Movement of Moderates and Wasatiyah advocated by Najib to reject all form of violence and extremism, whether political or religious.
- Thirdly, as Prime Minister of multi-religious Malaysia, with Islam as the official religion, Najib should speak loud and clear to lead the world, including Islamic nations, to condemn the terrorism and inhumanity of ISIS, not only as an affront and anathema to Islam as a religion of peace but for its crimes against humanity.
It would have been better if Najib’s unqualified condemnation of the Islamic State militants and extremists had been made very much earlier instead of waiting for the UN General Assembly on Sept. 27, some three months after his foolish and ill-advised praise for ISIL/ISIS on June 24, but it was better late than never.
A day before Najib’s speech at the UNGA, an international coalition of Muslim scholars had delivered a withering condemnation of IS by unpicking its doctrine in an open letter and declaring its existence “an offence to Islam”.
More than 120 Sunni imams and academics, including some of the Muslim world’s most respected scholars, signed the 18-page document which outlined 24 separate grounds on which the terror group violated the tenets of Islam.
The letter, addressed to the head of IS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, was significant not only because of its signatories but also its detailed references to the Koran and other Islamic texts to counter the justifications offered by the extremists for their bloody rampage across a swathe of Syria and Iraq.
The closely-argued document singled out the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines (which have since been followed by other atrocious executions, including the French Hervé Gourdel on Sept. 24, Britisher Alan Henning on Oct 3, American Peter Kasig on Nov. 16, as well as Kurds and Syrians) by saying the men were “emissaries” and their killings as “unquestionably forbidden”.
It also took ISIS to task over its countless acts of brutality and massacres under the guise of jihad, or a holy struggle. While acknowledging to Al-Baghdadi that “you and your fighters are fearless” and ready to die for their cause, the scholars stated their actions are “not jihad at all, but rather, warmongering and criminality”.
The documents cited multiple examples of atrocities committed by IS fighters, describing the murder of hundreds of ethnic Yazidis in northern Iraq as “abominable crimes” and describes its attitudes to women and children as morally repugnant.
The letter concluded: “You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder. This is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world.”
The letter, whose signatories come from Sudan to Iceland and include the grand mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Shawqi Allam, and the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine, Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, was the latest from leading Muslims around the world condemning IS and its doctrine.
The White Paper said: “Malaysia berdiri teguh bersama masyarakat antarabangsa untuk menentang kumpulan pengganas ini kerana perjuangan IS mencermarkan nama baik Islam dan bertentangan dengan nilai kemanusiaan.”
In fact, the Global Movement of Moderates should be in the forefront of an international campaign to mobilise world opinion against the IS terrorists, as Najib had repeatedly made the clarion call in international fora, including thrice at the United Nations General Assembly, for “moderates of all countries, of all religions, to take back the centre, to reclaim the agenda for peace and pragmatism, and to marginalize the extremists”.
As Najib has repeatedly stated, “the real divide is not between East and West or between the developed and developing worlds or between Muslims, Christians and Jews; it is between moderates and extremists of all religions”.
Unfortunately, the Global Movement of Moderates initiated by Najib is unable to rise to the challenge of the times to mobilise national and international opinion against the violent extremism and religious intolerance in Syria and Iraq as it is desperately fending off attacks from extremists and intolerant right-wing groups in the country for being “seditious” as a result of a “white terror” spree by Najib’s government in the past few months through a sedition dragnet to stifle freedom of speech and legitimate criticism and dissent – which ironically granted immunity and impunity to the extremist and intolerant elements in the country for serious violations of the law.
Najib must align his domestic policies with his international pronouncements or he would forfeit all respect and credibility, whether at home or in the international arena.
Just as Islam is not under siege internationally, it is not under siege in Malaysia, and those who use the name of Islam to justify extremist and intolerant outbursts and actions must be contained, not only internationally, but also nationally.
This was why in my statement immediately after Najib’s speech at the UN General Assembly, I had made two proposals for Najib to align his domestic policies with his international pronouncements on moderation and the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), namely :
- to end the “white terror” sedition spree in the past weeks through malicious and selective prosecution and investigation under the Sedition Act, drop all Sedition charges, and empower the Global Movement of Moderates to launch national and international initiatives to promote moderation and reject all forms of violence and extremism in the face of the IS threat; and
- move a motion when Parliament meets on Oct 7 to condemn in unambiguous and unconditional terms the extremism, violence and barbarism of IS.
The motion to condemn IS now before the House, but Najib has still to align his domestic policies with his international pronouncements on moderation and the establishment of GMM.
In his first speech to the UN General Assembly on 27th Sept. 2010 when he first broached the idea of a Global Movement of Moderate (GMM), to promote international peace and harmony and counter Islamophobia which demonize Islam and offend the one and a half billion adherents of the religion, he praised the group of American Christians who had “worked tirelessly to prevent the threatened burning of the Quran with the compelling argument that it is in fact un-Christian to burn the Quran”.
Najib said at the time that this was a clear example of what can be achieved “when moderates in each faith stand up to the extremists that are trying to hijack the universal value of our religions”.
Yet, Najib was not prepared to come to the forefront to denounce Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat in January 2013 to burn the Malay-language Bible with the compelling argument that it was un-Islamic to burn the Bible or any other holy books of any religion – not to mention the double standards of his Attorney-General, refusing to prosecute Ibrahim Ali whether under the Sedition Act or other laws while sanctioning sedition prosecutions against Pakatan Rakyat leaders, activists and intellectuals like law lecturer Dr. Azmi Sharom and Ali Abdul Jalil, who had to flee Malaysia and seek asylum and protection in Sweden because of oppression from authorities and gangsters.
In his Aidiladha message, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reiterated that he would keep faith with the “moderation” pledge he reiterated at the 69th United Nations General Assembly in September this year.
Najib should realize that his wasatiyyah (moderation) campaign of justice, balance and excellence would have no credibility whatsoever unless he is seen as upholding all these principles not only in the international arena but also in his government policies inside the country.
This is why all eyes are on the UMNO General Assembly this week, as all Malaysians, Umno and non-Umno, Malays and non-Malays, are asking the question of “Where have we gone wrong” in promoting wasatiyyah not only under the present Prime Minister but in the 57-year history of the nation that a former Chief Justice (Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad) could deliver a keynote address (ucaptama) at the National Unity Convention of Malay and Muslim NGOs on Sunday warning that the Malays could suffer a fate similar to Red Indians in the United States unless PAS and UMNO unite to allegedly stop DAP from attaining federal power.
In the first place, DAP had never said or believed that it could attain federal power without being part of a Malay-dominated political coalition.
This is not the only falsehood or fallacy in the thesis of the former Chief Justice, which runs counter to all the three Wasatiyyah principles of justice, balance and excellence.
Is Najib, Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy UMNO President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the UMNO Vice Presidents, Hishammuddin, Zahid and Shaqfie Apdal admitting that UMNO as a party for the Malays, had failed the Malays after ruling Malaya and then Malaysia for 57 years under six UMNO Prime Ministers to the extent that Malays now risk suffering a fate similar to the Red Indians in the United States – and that this horrible outcome could only be averted and the Malays saved from such a fate if PAS unite with UMNO to save the Malays.
Will Najib and Hishammuddi admit that their respective fathers, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein, had been such failures as the second and third Prime Ministers as to place the Malays in Malaysia under such a risk?
The “Red Indian warning” has been a favourite ploy of Tun Dr. Mahathir. Is Mahathir admitting that he had been such a n abysmal failure as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years from 1981 to 2003 that he has left the Malays after over two decades of premiership risking the fate of Red Indians in the United States?
We are confronted with the challenge whether we are prepared to be moderates in our own country, which is the real test whether we can be true moderates in the world in a Global Movement of Moderates campaign to lead the battlecry to isolate and marginalize all forms of extremism, intolerance and terrorism..
After governing the nation for 57 years, UMNO should be more and more inclusive and less and less exclusive – but the reverse is taking place, becoming even more exclusive and less inclusive than in the past.
Is UMNO prepared to draw the line in the sand, and the UMNO General Assembly this week demonstrate that UMNO stands solidly for moderation to marginalize extremism, intolerance and bigotry in Malaysia”?
The motion before the House asked for support for government policies and efforts to deal with the threat from the militant Islamic State – “menyokong Kerajaan melaksanakan dasar-dasar dan usaha-usaha yang diperkenalkan menangani ancaman kumpulan militan Islamic State; melulus dan merestui dasar-dasar dan usaha-usaha yang diperkenal oleh Kerajaan untuk menangani ancaman kumpulan militan Islamic State” and “menyeru semua lapisan rakyat Malaysia mempergiatkan usaha dan komitmen mereka untuk bersama-sama menyokong Kerajaan menangani ancaman berkenaan”.
If the battle for moderation, the campaign of the Global Movement for Moderates, is to succeed nationally and internationally, in the face of the threat posed by Islamic State and such-like extremist, intolerant and terrorist organizations, it must be a national effort uniting all Malaysians of all ethnicities and faiths which transcend race, religion or politics.
For this reason, I call for a Parliamentary Select Committee to mobilise support for moderation and draft laws to deal with the Islamic State threat, for the threat by extremist , intolerant and terrorist organizations like Islamic State cannot be countered and won unless it is an all-Malaysian, and not just UMNO or Barisan Nasional, effort – especially at a time when the UMNO/BN Government is only a minority government with minority support from the people of Malaysia.
Such a Parliamentary Select Committee to mobilise support for moderation and to draft laws and measures to deal with the Islamic State threat should be formed before Parliament adjourns till March tomorrow.