MALAYSIA

 

STATEMENT

BY

AMBASSADOR HASMY AGAM

 PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF MALAYSIA AND CHAIRMAN OF THE MALAYSIAN DELEGATION

AT THE

FIFTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, NEW YORK

TUESDAY, 13 NOVEMBER 2001

(Please check against delivery)

 

Mr. President,

My delegation is pleased to see you, the distinguished Foreign Minister of an Asian country, the Republic of Korea, preside over the 56th session of the General Assembly. I have no doubt that under your able and wise stewardship you will be able to guide the proceedings of this august Assembly to a successful conclusion.

2.    I would also like to join other speakers in expressing my delegation's gratitude to your predecessor, His Excellency Hard Holkeri, for the excellent manner in which he had conducted and guided the work of the 55th session of the General Assembly.

3.    Permit me also to offer our congratulations to His Excellency Kofi Annan on his re-election as the Secretary General for a second five-year term. We are confident that he will continue to serve this Organization with the same single-minded commitment he had shown in the past. We would also like to congratulate the Secretary-General and the United Nations for being awarded the Centennial Nobel Prize for Peace. This is due recognition of the many contributions he and the Organization had made in the service of the international community.
 

Mr. President,

4.    We are gratified that we are finally able to convene the General Debate after the uncertainties that we have had to face in the wake of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. Malaysia had strongly condemned the terrorist attacks and shared the anguish of the American people over the senseless deaths of so many thousands of innocent people. We once again express our profound condolences to the United States as well as other countries that have lost their nationals in that tragedy. We ourselves had lost a number of our own and understand the pain of the bereaved. As an Islamic country, we are very much concerned that a group of misguided people, identified as Muslims, had carried out such terrible acts in the name of our sacred religion. They have tarnished the good name of Islam, which stands for peace, and have tried to equate their creed of terror with that of our faith, thereby doing a great disservice to our great religion and our community. Fortunately, their ploy has not worked. In this regard we are grateful to President George W. Bush and other world leaders in categorically rejecting the stereotyping and association of Islam and Muslims with terrorism. In this regard, every effort should be made to ensure that people of the Islamic faith are not discriminated against simply because of their faith, ethnic background or country they come from.

5.    On an unrelated matter, my delegation extends its sincere condolences to the delegation of the United States and those of other member States for the loss of their nationals in the tragic air crash that occurred yesterday in Long Island.
 

Mr. President,

6.    Malaysia is ready to contribute to the global effort to combat the scourge of terrorism. In dealing with the issue there is a need for the international community, through the United Nations, to work out a sound strategy incorporating all aspects of the problem. While we understand the natural urge for retribution against the people who were believed to be behind the heinous attacks and their supporters, we do not think military actions are the best and most effective solution, nor politically a wise one. We are concerned that military actions may raise more problems than they solve. A sound strategy should include, aside from the military option, political/diplomatic efforts, legal, economic and other measures. It should be a long and sustained campaign in an effort to get at and destroy, once and for all, each and every root of the terrorist organization or organizations behind the these attacks.

7.    A concerted and coordinated effort on the part of the international community is the most appropriate and effective approach. For this purpose there is a need for the convening of an international conference at the highest level to consider the issue of terrorism in all its aspects and manifestations, including the necessity of agreeing on the definition of what constitutes terrorism. This is important so that pure terrorism-which cannot be excused under whatever pretext-can be differentiated from legitimate struggles of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation for selfdetermination and national liberation, as recognized by the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and other international declarations. Agreement on the definition of terrorism is vitally important so as to clear up any ambiguities and uncertainties which may hamper international cooperation. Such a conference should also address the important issue of the root causes of or factors that spawn terrorism. These factors may be political, economic or social-but they must be addressed in all seriousness and objectivity so that appropriate strategies and practical and effective measures could be formulated to deal with them.

8.    As for Afghanistan, there should be immediate cessation of current bombings in order to spare the hapless people of Afghanistan from further harm and suffering. They have suffered long enough-twenty years too long! They should be allowed to return to their villages and homes to prepare for the cold winter season and Ramadan that are fast approaching. The cessation of the bombings would also allow for the return of international relief workers so that they can resume their commendable humanitarian work. Enormous amounts of international assistance are required and we commend those countries that have responded generously and appeal to those that have not given. We ourselves have set up an Afghanistan Relief Fund with very positive response from both the Government and the public. On the political/diplomatic front, the United Nations should exert every effort to bring about peace to Afghanistan through a political settlement.
 

Mr. President,

9.    The situation in Palestine and the Middle East continues to be a matter of serious concern to the international community. The issue must be urgently addressed not only for its own sake but also to avoid it from being exploited by certain groups of people for their own ends. It is imperative, if enduring peace is to be achieved in the Middle East, for the peace process to be revived on an urgent basis. We must rekindle faith for a peaceful solution of the conflict and douse any prospects of a return to a full- fledged war. This is important given the deep-seated mistrust that prevails on both sides.

10.    We believe that the Mitchell Report offers a good basis to bring the situation back to the negotiating table. We commend the Palestinian Authority for unambiguously accepting the Report. However, we regret that the Israeli side while indicating general "acceptance", rejected major parts of the report, including the call for complete cessation of settlement activity - one of the main causes for the current cycle of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory.

11.    Their continued military offensive against the Palestinians raise questions about the sincerity on the part of Israeli leadership to work for peace. The Israeli authorities have tried to cow the Palestinian population by an overwhelming use of force, using an assortment of its formidable arsenals. This excessive use of force has resulted in more than 800 Palestinians killed and more than 20,000 wounded. Regrettably, the calls of the international community have fallen on deaf ears as the Israeli forces continue their offensive on the Palestinians in the pretext of ending the campaign against terrorism. The aggressive actions by the occupying power must cease, if peace is to be given a chance to grow.

12.    There is no military solution to the problem. The provocative measures taken by Israel will only aggravate the situation. We therefore strongly urge the Israeli government to desist from pursuing a military solution. A just, comprehensive and lasting solution is only possible through a negotiated political settlement - a process that the international community and this august body must actively pursue. This must include the complete withdrawal of Israel from all Arab and Palestinian land occupied since 1967, including the City of AI-Quds AI-Sharif and occupied Syrian Golan. We also reaffirm our support on the establishing of an independent State of Palestine, with AIQuds AI-Sharif as its capital. Only the implementation of all international resolutions on the Palestinian issue, can guarantee lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. We, once again, call on Israel, the occupying power, to comply with Security Council resolution 242(1967) and 338(1973), and all other relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Equally, we look forward to the return of Syrian Golan without further delay. We hope to see a future in an environment that will bring development and opportunities in a peaceful and stable Middle East.
 

Mr. President,

13.    Malaysia has consistently voiced its opposition to the use of sanctions as an instrumentality of collective punishment. While sanctions may be invoked as a tool of international governance, no one can deny its debilitating effects on the general populace of the affected countries. We therefore strongly urge the international community, in particular the Security Council, to seriously review the impact of sanctions on Member States, particularly those imposed on Iraq and Libya-which, in our view, should be lifted as soon as possible as they have long served their purpose.
 

Mr. President,

14.    The danger of a nuclear holocaust remains real and serious. We should strive for the ultimate objective of a world free of weapons of mass destruction - nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons. We should make every effort to strengthen all existing nuclear-related disarmament, arms control and reduction measures. The multilateral search for genuine measures for disarmament and non-proliferation, particularly in the nuclear area must remain the highest priority on the global disarmament agenda.
 

Mr. President,

15.    This year witnessed the United Nations holding special sessions and review conferences on a host of issues, some timely, others long overdue.

16.    After more than 20 years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the United Nations finally recognized its catastrophic impact on populations around the world, and convened a special session to build awareness of the need for an expanded response to the pandemic. It is now up to the international community to take resolute and concerted action to combat this scourge and acknowledge that the world's most affected populations are also among the poorest, and lack the much-needed resources to act alone. With about 95% of all HIV-infected people living in developing countries, it is essential that every assistance be given to them in combating the scourge. We hope that a review conference be convened a few years from now to assess how far we have come in our fight against this devastating disease.

17.    Racism constitutes one of the most heinous forms of human rights violations, not only in itself, but as it also gives rise to other egregious forms of systematic human rights violations such as colonialism, slavery and genocide. These have in turn resulted in poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization and social exclusion for far too many. We are therefore heartened that the outcome of the third World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, recently, contain elements that will take our efforts to eradicate racism further, the most prominent of which is the recognition by the international community that slavery and the slave trade are crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, we view the outcome documents as inadequate as they do not sufficiently address the plight of the Palestinian people who are victims of policies based on discrimination and exclusion.

18.    We look forward to upcoming Special Session on Children, our most valuable resource, as an affirmation of the centrality of children to our common future and a positive proof of our commitment to ensuring the survival, protection and development of all children around the world. While many of the goals set out by the World Summit for Children have been achieved, an estimated 600 million children are still struggling to survive, eat and learn on less than US$1 a day. Let us also not overlook the plight of children affected by sanctions, such as the hapless children of Iraq, many of whom did not survive beyond the age of five.
 

Mr. President,

19. Many of us in the developing world had welcomed, indeed, embraced globalization almost unquestioningly, as if it was a panacea for all our problems-only to deluded, over time, when we found that rather than a holistic process benefiting all of humanity, it was being pursued, more often than not, as a strategy for the benefit of a few. While the world is richer today, millions of people are still living in absolute poverty, suffering from want, sickness and malnutrition. Globalization is a complex process, with as many opportunities as challenges. While the impact of globalization is profound and pervasive, not all of it is necessarily positive. As we embrace it, there is a need to ensure that we minimize its negative impact, particularly on the developing countries.

20.    While globalization may be an inevitable process, the challenge for us, at the national level, is to design policies that will take advantage of the opportunities it offers, while minimizing the attendant risks. Integration into the global economy, where competition is the order of the day, must be done in a way that will minimize these risks. The developing countries, especially those facing unsustainable external debt crisis and under the tutelage of the Bretton Woods institutions, must be allowed to formulate policies and strategies that will enable them to be integrated into the global economy while ensuring broad-based human development.

21.    If globalization in its present form is pursued, characterized, inter-alia, by weakened national sovereignty and growing ownership and control of new technologies by powerful nations, it will not be the universal remedy it was thought to be. The Asian financial crisis had illustrated forcefully the downside of globalization. It demonstrated the inherent instability of the world economic system in which trade and economic liberalization did not necessarily lead to faster growth and development for the developing countries. What is clear is that growth and development require an enabling international environment and international support that can promote growth with equity for the benefit of all.
 

Mr. President,

22. To enable developing countries to participate and benefit equally from globalization, adequate funding for development, among others, is required. It is therefore most disheartening to see the steady decline, over the years, in the volume of official development assistance (ODA) to the developing countries.

23.    Many donors experienced unprecedented prosperity but instead of moving towards fulfilling their pledge, made at Rio, to allocate 0.7% of their GNP for ODA, we see a decline in the ODA percentage of donor country GNP as a whole from 0.33 % in 1992 to 0.24% in 1999. Only a handful of developed countries, to their credit, have met or exceeded the agreed ODA target of 0.7 % of their GNP.

24.    The continued need for an inflow of ODA and new and additional financial resources will become even more critical with the advancement of globalization and the shift to the new knowledge-based economy. Unless the ODA situation improves, the developing countries will be further marginalized in a rapidly globalizing world economy, characterized by rapid change, high technology and stiff competition. The developing countries, particularly the least developed, must therefore continue to be assisted in a more sustained fashion in order to bring about a more equitable distribution of growth and economic prosperity. The developing countries, on their part, must put their house in order by adopting sound economic policies.

25.    The issue of financing for development is particularly relevant and vitally important in solving the problems of development faced by many countries. The International Conference on Financing for Development in Mexico, early next year, will provide us the opportunity to achieve international consensus on issues pertaining to financing for development in all its aspects. We thank the Government of Mexico for its willingness to host this important conference and look forward to participating constructively in Monterey. We hope that this conference will be able to address the core problems relating to financing for development, including other systemic issues, such as the reform of the international financial architecture, on which, in spite of a general recognition of the need for reform, there has been no progress thus far.

26.    As an innovative source of financing for development, the conference in Monterey could also consider, inter-alia, the possibility of establishing an appropriate system of international taxation for the purpose of infrastructure-building in the least developed countries. This international tax shall be contributed by those countries that have benefited from international trade, over and above the economic aid given by them to the developing countries. Malaysia is quite prepared to contribute to such an infrastructure tax.
 

Mr. President,

27.    The challenge facing developing countries, in integrating themselves into the international trading system, lies in their ability to fully and actively participate in the
multilateral trading system. Regrettably, many developing countries have not benefited from global trade liberalization because of their inability to access the markets of developed countries. Although globalization carries with it the notion of free trade, many developed countries maintain protectionist regimes and subsidies as basic instruments of economic policy, even as they insist on opening up the markets of the developing countries in the name of globalization.

28.    It is also disappointing to the developing countries that structurally little has been done in the area of trade to improve their ability and capability to compete in the global market. There is therefore the urgent need to facilitate the integration of the developing countries into the global trading system through, inter-alia, the special differential measures provided for under the Uruguay Round.

29.    A new round, should it be launched, should ensure that negotiations effectively address the particular concerns and problems of developing countries. However, any negotiations will have to formally recognize that the Least Developed Countries-indeed, for that matter, many of the developing countries-have neither the financial nor human resources to implement their existing obligations, let alone the outcome of future negotiations. In this regard, we believe that the role of UNCTAD, as one of the few mechanisms concerned with development of the developing countries, is of utmost importance. We hope that UNCTAD will continue to play a leading role in helping developing countries, particularly in efforts to reach the Millennium Declaration's development target of halving poverty by 2015.
 

Mr. President,

30.    The ongoing conflicts in Africa, and other parts of the world, continues to be a major concern. It is therefore imperative that the international community takes concerted efforts to close the chapter of violence, which has traumatized the majority of African people for so long.

31.    My delegation welcomes the United Nations Millennium Declaration adopted last year, which among others, pledged to allocate special attention to meet the special needs of Africa. The international community must continue to assist the African countries in their development needs. We should continue to assist our African brothers in their struggle for lasting peace, poverty eradication and sustainable development.

32.    Malaysia, for its part, has been able to make a modest contribution, through the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) launched in 1981. To-date, many participants from the African countries have undergone various short and medium term courses in the public, administration and technical fields in Malaysia. We have also developed economic relations with some African countries based on the concept of "smart partnership", involving governments and the private sector with the goal of promoting sound and sustainable economic activities to ensure a win-win relationship for all. Within our limited resources, Malaysia looks forward to further consolidating our cooperation and solidarity with Africa in the spirit of south-south cooperation.
 

Mr. President,

33.    Malaysia welcomes the Secretary-General's pledge to move the United Nations from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention. This culture should be the cornerstone of the Organization's collective security system for this century. It is a far better and more cost-effective approach, financially as well as in human terms, than mounting any operation or activity after a conflict has erupted. We are pleased to note that the Secretary-General continues to pursue this culture with the relevant regional organizations to further enhance a comprehensive approach by drawing on regional preventive strategies. We would like to urge the Secretary-General to continue to consult the relevant regional or sub-regional groups in this regard.
 

Mr. President,

34.    In conclusion, I should like to raise an issue which was mentioned by my Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, when he addressed the 54th session of the General Assembly. The problem relates to immunities granted to nationals of Member States by virtue of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 1946 and the Immunities of Specialised Agencies of the United Nations of 1947 once they are appointed as officials of the United Nations, such as a rapporteur. While Malaysia acknowledges the need for immunities to be granted to ensure that these official would be able to carry out their mandate effectively, it seems that they are able to hide behind this cloak of immunity for every criticism made of their own government, including word which fall outside their mandate. Surely even they should be treated as ordinary citizens, governed by the laws of the land, when they are not officially "on mission". My delegation calls for clear guidelines to govern the conduct of United Nations officials, especially when residing in their own countries, so that their actions fall strictly within their mandates and that they enjoy immunities there only at such times that they are officially performing their functions as UN officials, and not all year round. Surely, also, there should be a better basis for appointment of UN officials: nominees should be those who are known for their neutral or unbiased views, not one who, in the words of my Prime Minister, "is well known for his virulent attacks" to report on any given matter. Surely on this issue, the UN would be among the first to agree that while there is a need to protect and ensure the freedom and impartiality of its officials, it must also at the same time protect the rights and interests of its member states.

I thank you, Mr. President.