On the 20th of March 2003, at approximately 10.30 a.m. Malaysian time, the United States of America, together with Britain and its other allies, commenced military action against Iraq.
This course of action was taken without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. Malaysia deeply regrets this action as it blatantly disregards the multilateral process and the United Nations (UN) Charter; it is in contravention of international law, upon which the security and stability of the world is based.
This military action does not have the support of the majority of nations and peoples of the world, including many citizens of the United States and Britain themselves. Malaysia has repeatedly voiced its stand at the UN and to the United States, that the issue of Iraq should be resolved through the multilateral process. Any military solution should only be considered as a last resort after all other avenues have been exhausted, and should be sanctioned by the UN. Malaysia is of the opinion that there is neither sufficient evidence nor justifiable cause for invading Iraq. Iraq has progressively disarmed in compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution. Malaysia remains unconvinced by allegations that Iraq is in a position to be a threat to other nations, especially to the United States, given the latter's military strength and geographical distance from Iraq.
The world is now at a critical juncture following the action of the United States and its allies, which will go down as a black mark in history. A large and powerful nation, along with its allies has acted with disregard for international law, humanity and universal justice. It has launched an attack against a sovereign state that has diminished capacity to defend itself.
What is more worrisome is the wanton destruction of Iraq that could come through the use of the most sophisticated weapons in the world, on a people and nation who have already suffered for 12 years as a result of the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
Malaysia remains steadfast in its belief that war is not a means to resolve international conflict. We stand together with the international community in condemning war, which we consider to be a primitive solution.
The use of pre-emptive force by the United States and its allies not only threatens the foundation of international law but also sets a dangerous precedent in the international political arena. The use of military might to destroy nations that are weak and incapable of defending themselves will provoke the anger of the world community.
The consequences of this war will not only have devastating implications on Iraq and the Middle East, but will ultimately impact upon the entire world. The international campaign to rid the world of terrorism will be undermined. Anti-American sentiment around the world will rise, as will extremism and militancy.
War brings death and destruction. Lives will be lost, people injured and resources destroyed. The waging of a modern war, using sophisticated weaponry, will result in untold ruin. Many of the weak, the old, women and children will become victims. Wives will be made widows and husbands will be made widowers. Children will be orphaned and parents will lose their children.
World trade will be affected. Supply of oil will be disrupted resulting in an increase in fuel costs. The transportation and tourism sectors will languish if the war becomes a protracted one. Global economic growth will slow down and unemployment will rise. The effects of war will only trigger suffering, to be borne by many citizens of the world.
Our country will not be spared from the negative effects of this war, and we will have to take the necessary measures to lessen its impact. The Government will be proactive in managing the nation's economy. The capital market, the financial system and other sectors will be managed and supervised to ensure its stability, resilience and vibrancy.
At the same time, Malaysians must also be wise in facing the crisis that is before us. We must act rationally and not be guided by sentiment and emotion, which can endanger harmony and stability in the country. We must preserve the stability and integrity of the nation to ensure that the people's livelihood will not be threatened. Economic activity and daily life must continue uninterrupted. Gatherings must be held in an orderly fashion, in accordance with the nation's laws to prevent threats to public order and ensure the safety of foreign interests in Malaysia. Any action that can result in racial discord must be avoided.
Malaysia must also prove to foreign investors that the nation is safe for them and their investments. Visitors and tourists to Malaysia should not be given cause to fear for their safety. Malaysians must continue to show that we embrace peace and reject violence in any form.
It must be stressed that the war waged against Iraq is a decision made by the Government of the United States of America and its allies. We firmly oppose this policy of the Government of the United States of America. We are not against the people of the United States. We sympathise with the families who have lost their loved ones during wars and acts of terrorism. We also do not bear any ill feeling towards the business community who invest and operate in our country. All Malaysians must understand this distinction clearly.
We must realise that the world's political scenario has changed significantly. The world is now seeing that `might is right'. The fate of smaller nations appears to be at the mercy of those who possess military power.
The only strength that countries such as Malaysia can wield is unity. Unity in purpose and unity to defend the sovereignty of our nation. Peace must be upheld in Malaysia. We must be ever vigilant against internal and external elements that may take this opportunity to disrupt peace in Malaysia.
I call upon all Malaysians to pray for the crisis in Iraq to be resolved expeditiously, for the people of Iraq to be shielded from suffering and destruction, and for the well being of the world to be preserved.