Laman Webantu   KM2: 6554 File Size: 7.9 Kb *

| KM2 Index |

SYDNet: Getting To The Roots Of Malaysian - Afghani Relations
By Gary Knight

3/1/2002 12:16 am Thu

Getting To The Roots Of Malaysian - Afghani Relations

By Gary Knight

For Australians to fully understand the complexities behind the people-smuggling rackets of Afghani and Iraqi people which commence from the minute they hit KLIA in Kuala Lumpur, I have gone to the journalistic experts in KL to source some views.

While writing this story I was genuinely pleased by an interview I heard on ABC where Alexander Downer said the Government was planning to use whatever it could to request that countries such as Indonesia make moves to stem the people smuggling rackets.

They are finally on the right track - and although it will not be an easy road to hoe, I am pleased that they are starting to attack the problem and not the victims.

I have written this story to give people an insight into why Malaysia is the source of nearly all of the people smuggling rackets in this region - and Australia has to use whatever pressure it can to bring about an attempt by Malaysian authorities to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from their shores.

Many Australians who watch or listen to the ABC would already have heard of rebel journalist M.G.G. Pillai or "MGG" as everyone in Malaysia knows him as, and I have another two journalistic contacts in Malaysia whose names I will not mention as they are in far more vulnerable positions than MGG.

MGG is already banned from Singapore, has been sued for libel by Mahathir cronies and his opinions on Malaysian political life are valued internationally and are formed with a deep understanding of both the issues and the people involved in them.

I don't always agree with MGG and we have sat in Brickfields (the Indian quarter in KL) and disagreed over our Rogan Josh and naan bread.

All of my colleagues in Malaysia agree that the relationship between Malaysia and Afghanistan is strained mainly due to the fact that Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mohammad Mahaathir actually supports a rival Muslim group in Aghanistan to the ruling Taliban.

Only recently Mahathir has been trying to rout out student members of the Kesatuan Mujahideen Malaysia (KMM), which has recently changed it's name to Kesatuan Militant Malaysia. This group of Muslims favour the imposition of a Talib-style system of law in Malaysia. He made much to do in the Malaysian press about the dangers this group posed to security and rule of law in Malaysia.

Mahathir himself prefers to support the Ahmad Shah Masood faction in Afghanistan - and the embassy in Kuala Lumpur also represents that faction, therefore making it clear to the Taliban that the Malaysian Government does not recognise its legitimacy.

This also makes it abundantly clear to all Afghanis who are threatened by the Taliban or oppose them, that Malaysia is a very "safe" first port of call in their journey to another life.

Ahmad Mahsood's "foreign minister" was in Malaysia only recently and he was given the red carpet treatment by the Government - and no mention was made of the fact that he is in fact a member of a rival mujahideen ensconced in the Pansheer Valley and at war with the Taliban.

MGG reported that there has been an "unusual number of Afghans" flying into Malaysia first class and staying in KL's large array of five star hotels.

He says this is strange because Mahathir has been declaring in recent times that the Taliban and the KMM in Malaysia have been formenting trouble in Malaysia - yet the Afghanis continue to arrive in KL unchecked and unhindered.

MGG raised the question of why the practice is allowed to continue if that is the case and they are in fact coming to Malaysia to join or instruct the KMM.

He accuses the Mahathir Government of having no policy on Afghanistan or the steady flow of Afghanis into Malaysia.

Prior to Mahathir supporting Mahsood's faction Malaysia, via the actions of now-detained Anwar Ibrahim, the former Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, the Government had thrown it's weight behind the mujahideen forces of Gulbudeen Hikmateyar.

He also had an official visit to Kuala Lumpur and was paraded as a representative of the Afghani Government before his forces were expelled from Kabul by the Taliban.

When Gulbudeen and his Pathan (the superior tribe in Afghanistan) forces combined with others to cause the Soviet Union severe international embarrassment by continually out-manouevering the Soviet armed forces, Malaysia sent troops and mercenaries to fight alongside the Pathan forces.

Nearly all of these Malaysians were drawn from the ranks of the KMM.

Those who know say there is little chance that the forces of Mahsood can ever oust the Taliban and as they are non-Pathans many believe this only makes their task harder. Neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and India would see a Mahsood victory as a danger and an inspiration to "lower - castes" and they would much rather deal with the Taliban rather than the lower ranked forces of Mahsood.

Even the Durand Line that marks the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan is dubious and there are homes built along the imaginary line that have their living room in one country and their bedrooms in another.

This makes for easy exit for many Pathans and refugees from Afghanistan to Jalozai and then to points beyond.

Many Australians think that all the exits from Afghanistan are made via the Khyber Pass and this is clearly not the case.

Malaysia is using Afghani problems as a political football as Mahathir is very determined to keep down the threat posed to his Government by the Islamic Party PAS, and is also looking to be seen as receptive towards Muslims from other countries that are in dire trouble.

That is one way of diminishing the groundswell of support for PAS and to a lesser extent the Kaedilan Party which is headed by Ibrahim's wife Wan Aziza - with very strong Muslim roots.

For Australia the situation is disastrous. The Afghanis will continue to fly into KL - they will continue to be helped by the Malaysian military and law enforcement agencies and the smugglers will continue to collect the cash.

Mahathir is not likely to "turn the tap off" and ebb the flow of Afghanis into Malaysia.

He would fear being seen as not willing to help the Muslims who are in trouble and people such as Dato Fadzil Noor (the leader of PAS) and Aziza would immediately jump on any attempt to ebb the flow - to use to their advantage in order to corner the significant Muslim vote.

Therefore Mahathir is caught between a rock and a hard place.

For the last three years the ruling UMNO Party of Mahathir's has been "on the nose" with the electorate in Malaysia.

The general population has been embittered by the continual financial failures by Mahathir's favourited supporters.

The recent uprising from the judiciary in attempting to provide judgements from the bench that are correct at law and free from political interference, has also caused a great deal of consternation within the Malaysian public - aimed at the Government for it's meddling with the courts.

Even if Alexander Downer, Peter Reith and Philip Ruddock, the three Government ministers currently in Indonesia, are able to extract any sort of agreement out of the Sukarno-Putri Government, it will do little unless they continue their journey.

They must sit at a table with Rafidah Aziz, Rais Yathim, Daim Zainuddin and other Mahaathir Ministers to extract similar agreements out of Malaysia.