Military action alone inadequate to tackle terorrism, says Anifah


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is waging a constant war against the Islamic State (IS) and other extremists on the ideological front, while also countering the threat of physical attacks.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, speaking at the Institute of International Relations in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, during his official visit to the country on Thursday, said that with the IS losing its stronghold in the Middle East, Southeast Asia has been identified as a new base by the terrorists.

"A crisis like this which affects the wider region makes the ground more fertile for the spreading of terrorism and violent extremism.

"Malaysia believes that tackling the scourge of terrorism requires a broad-based, long term strategy. Military actions alone are inadequate. Rather, root causes must be addressed, ideally through a multi-pronged approach.

"Preventive measures, vigilance, education, public awareness and de-radicalisation campaigns together with effective rehabilitation programmes are all necessary to combat these threats," he said.

He added that the IS and its ilk seek to penetrate and infect the minds of youth with malicious ideologies and agendas, particularly through the digital platform.

He said Malaysia is seeking to respond to this threat by developing and disseminating correct counter-narratives.

"Currently, such efforts are spearheaded by two digital counter-messaging centres under the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and police, both established in 2016," he said.

Anifah said Malaysia is also deeply concerned over the recent development in the Middle East region and is of the view that the ongoing crisis needs to be resolved expeditiously between the countries concerned.

"Malaysia continues to uphold our policy of neutrality and moderation in this issue and urges all parties involved to make the necessary efforts in deescalating tensions.

"Malaysia hopes for an amicable solution to the ongoing crisis in the region.

"Malaysia remains committed to combating and confronting terrorism and extremism, and support all efforts in achieving peace and stability in the region," he said.

On the Palestine issue, he said Malaysia had and would remain fully committed to the Palestinian cause, and had never wavered from defending this just cause.

"So when Malaysia took its place at the horseshoe table - as the Security Council is nicknamed - we took every opportunity to highlight the injustices and suffering faced by the Palestinian people," he said.

Commenting on the Rohingya issue, Anifah said Malaysia's position was well-known and consistent, that the situation in Rakhine State was no longer a domestic conflict.

"Recent experiences elsewhere have shown that if not addressed effectively, the situation currently unfolding in Rakhine will result in a full-blown regional humanitarian crisis; a mass exodus of people from Myanmar fearing persecution or retribution would inevitably lead them to neighboring countries, including Malaysia.

"Malaysia has always maintained good bilateral relations with Myanmar and has no desire to interfere in its domestic affairs.

"That being said, Malaysia stands ready to assist Myanmar in finding a just, durable solution to the protracted situation in Rakhine," he said.

He added that Malaysia's effort in aiding the Rohingya currently focus on providing humanitarian aid including the field hospital which had been set up recently in Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh for medical relief of the refugees. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd