Malaysia’s election to the prestigious seat — the third time in the country’s history — will reflect Putrajaya’s status as a “major player” in international diplomacy and strengthen the voice of Asian and Muslim nations in the 15-member Security Council. It will coincide with Malaysia’s chairmanship of Asean, which represents more than 500 million people, next year.
It also comes as the world is grappling with the safety of civil aviation in conflict areas, following the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and the ongoing fight against the militant Islamic State group — two issues that Najib will likely dwell on in his key UN address. He will address the 69th session of the UN General Assembly on Friday, the highlight of his jam-packed nine-day visit here.
Malaysia was last elected to the powerful policymaking council for the 1999/2000 term, winning a massive 174 votes out of the 176 cast — the highest number of votes polled among the five countries elected as non-permanent
Will Malaysia be able to repeat its remarkable feat this time around? Malaysian diplomats based here are upbeat about the chances, but privately said they needed to continue to work hard. “We cannot take things for granted,” said one.
Soon after Najib’s address at the UN, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman will travel to South America before returning here for last-minute lobbying among UN member nations. Anifah has been embarking on intense diplomatic shuttles — flying to dozens of countries, from Samoa to Bahamas and Azerbaijan — to seek support for Malaysia.
“We have a very good chance of being elected to the Security Council,” he told a briefing for Malaysian media ahead of Najib’s arrival here late yesterday (this morning Malaysian time). Besides the 10-member Asean, Malaysia received the backing of the Asia-Pacific Group at the UN, Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council, not to mention strong endorsement from the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and 120-member Non-Aligned Movement.
Tomorrow, Najib will address the international launch of the Global Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Alliance. The alliance is designed to connect students from around the world via a collaborative digital platform and social learning network. At the event, Najib’s wife, Datin Seri
Rosmah Mansor, will receive the STEM Hero Award for her contribution to early childhood education and development in Malaysia. Najib is due to deliver a keynote address at Georgetown University in Washington DC the next day, before returning here on the same day.
Anifah said the tragedies of flights MH370 and MH17 would dominate discussions in the General Assembly and meetings on the sidelines. At a Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Friday, Malaysia raised concerns over the fragility of the ceasefire in the crash site area and said Putrajaya would not rest until justice was done.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, at the meeting, blamed Russia for arming rebels in eastern Ukraine and making the crash site unsafe. “Let me be clear, the security situation around the site and in much of eastern Ukraine has deteriorated because of Russian support to arm separatist groups,” she was quoted by Australian media as telling the Security Council. Russian envoy at the UN Vitaly Churkin said Moscow was a victim of an “information war”.
- New Straits Times