Monday, June 2, 2014

Does Malaysia deserve a seat in the UN Security Council?

Last updated on 02/06/2014 - 07:15
31/05/2014 - 11:00      

Sonia Ramachandran

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is pushing for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for two years effective 2015.
But would Malaysia’s bid be affected by PAS’ determination to implement hudud and the raging debate on its likely impact on non-Muslims?
Ahmad Farouk
Islamic Renaissance Front chairman and director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa believes that the hudud issue could work against Malaysia’s aspiration.    
“If you hold a seat, you must recognise the 30 articles in the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights. One of the most important articles there is Article 18 which provides for the right to freedom of thought and religion,” he told theantdaily.
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 states responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
Article 18 states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Ahmad Farouk, who is also a cardiothoracic surgeon, said PAS’ proposed formulation of hudud law also provides for a law against apostasy which is against the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Yet we want a seat on the Security Council. You say you want a seat and yet you’re trying to implement something against human rights. This is unacceptable. You’re doing two things that seem to be opposite to each other at the same moment.
“A nation that aspires to hold a chair at the UN Security Council should at least embrace the minimum standards of human rights that are espoused by the UN,” said Ahmad Farouk.
PAS had initially wanted to table its Private Member's Bill in the June parliamentary session to enable it to implement hudud in Kelantan but has deferred the matter.
PAS has now agreed to form a joint technical committee with the federal government to further study the implementation of the Islamic penal code.
Malaysia has held a UNSC seat three times, starting in 1964/65 when it shared it with Czechoslovakia for one year each, and then in 1989/90 and finally in 1999/2000.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman had on May 23 in New York said that UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon had expressed his happiness over Malaysia's candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC, which he said was conveyed to him during his courtesy call on the secretary-general at his office.
Anifah was also quoted as saying that Malaysia believes in moderation and dialogue.
“Peace and security through moderation has been our goal all along. Malaysia has made great efforts to remain peaceful and stable….we have done this through acceptance of all races and religions in our country,”Anifah said. 
To which Ahmad Farouk, on the possibility of hudud in the country, said: “This is not moderation. This is the most extreme case in curtailing freedom of conscience.
“Malaysia is seeking a non-permanent seat in the Security Council which is considered one of the highest positions in the United Nations and this would entail an even higher commitment to human rights.”
For the record, Saudi Arabia, where hudud is implemented, was offered a seat on the Security Council in 2013 but rejected it.
Many would be tempted to say that if Saudi Arabia could be offered a seat, then Malaysia will have no problems being accepted.
However, some schools of thought have it that the oil-rich kingdom is given a certain leeway because of economic reasons, an advantage Malaysia does not enjoy.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s landscape is not the same as Malaysia’s multiracial and multi-religious one.
One thing most of the recent debates on hudud have shown is that its implementation will one way or another affect the non-Muslims.
This in turn might disrupt the social cohesion and peace in the country.
The UN Security Council is tasked with maintaining international peace so it might not look good if one of the very countries sitting on the council is not able to do that very thing on its very own soil.
The UN website says the UN Charter gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened.
It goes on to say that all members of the UN agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council and that while other UN organs make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.
The UNSC has 15 members made up of five permanent members with veto power and 10 non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term with each member having one vote.
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