ADUN SPEAKS | Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador's latest comment that "no one will be spared from police action if found spreading terrorist ideologies", is something that no Malaysian will dispute. But, how will the police define "terrorist ideologies" and what action will be considered as "supporting terrorist organisations" here? There are many Malaysians who are sympathetic towards many struggles for self-determination throughout the world. Will all those sympathisers also be branded as "terrorist supporters"?
The Malaysian media often describe the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist outfit, based on the European Union ban on the organisation back in 2006. But, the same EU has also listed Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which are organisations that champion the liberation of Palestine, as terrorist organisations.
And almost 90 percent of Malaysians back the liberation of Palestine and the right to self-determination of Palestinian people. In fact, former Hamas chairperson Khalid Meshaa has met Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mahathir in Putrajaya on May 22. And former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak had visited Gaza in 2013 and was greeted by Hamas officials there. Najib's visit then was even denounced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
My question is, will the police investigate both former and current prime ministers for their support for an organisation, which was listed by the EU and the US as a terrorist outfit? If not, what’s the difference between Hamas and LTTE? Why can one support Hamas, an active armed group, but not LTTE, now since defunct? When I say support, I’m referring to moral support; not financial or material support.
Our police force should be able to understand the difference between terrorist organisations and freedom fighters. For decades, western countries had a bias against liberation movements; especially against the liberation movements in Asia and Africa. Nelson Mandela, a man who fought against apartheid in South Africa, was on the US Terror Watchlist until 2008. Surprisingly, a majority of these western countries, except the US, had never listed the Irish National Liberation Army and the Irish People's Liberation Organisation as terror outfits, despite their armed struggle against the United Kingdom.
If Malaysia wants to use the EU and the US's definition of terrorism in classifying an organisation, it will be an outright opposition against many liberation movements, including Hamas. Is Malaysia going to take such a stand? Was this discussed by the Malaysian cabinet at any point of time?
Mahathir is known for his outspokenness when it comes to world political order. He had insisted on many occasions that not everything that US or western countries are saying is right. When the US initiated the war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Mahathir said, "Malaysia will not support the war, even if United Nations sanctioned the military action.” That is the non-conformity position of Malaysia in the international arena. The Malaysian police should not forget it. Why are we suddenly taking the US and EU list as gospel truth? With such a stand, will Malaysia’s position on Hamas, too, change in the near future?
Malaysians have every right to show their moral support for freedom movements in Palestine, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan and elsewhere, without having to fear police action. If someone is found to be channelling funds, and getting involved in other illegal activities with such an organisation, then it’s wrong. Showing support morally for freedom movements, be it Hamas or LTTE, is not wrong.
LTTE, like Hamas, fought for the self-determination of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka after the minority Tamils faced decades of discrimination. Maybe, some of its military tactics were wrong; but the struggle was for the self-determination. In fact, in recent years, when the Muslims in Sri Lanka are facing the same kind of oppression from the Sinhalese extremists, people tend to understand the reason behind the Tamils' struggle for self-determination. However, the armed struggle of LTTE had been silenced since its defeat in 2009. Why would anyone still want to view the group as an active organisation when it is totally defunct for more than a decade now?
If IGP Abdul Hamid is really concerned about the so-called terror links, he should first convince the government to deport a foreign criminal, who is wanted for money-laundering activities in his own country, suspected of channelling those laundered funds to terrorist organisations and radicalising thousands of youths in South Asian countries. That will be a major success for him and his force in the fight against extremism and radicalisation.
SATEES MUNIANDY is the state assemblyperson for Bagan Dalam and DAP Youth international secretary.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.