Kuala Lumpur – For a country which prides itself as a model of a successful and moderate Islamic nation, it is indeed ironic that some of its neighbours are quick to point fingers at Malaysia whenever there are terrorist attacks or incidents of unrest in their countries. It doesn't help that two of Asia's most-wanted terrorists are Malaysian citizens. Amidst all that fingerpointing, Malaysia's role in helping to resolve conflicts involving armed Muslim groups in Southeast Asia appears to have gone unappreciated.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak noted that Kuala Lumpur had mediated to end fighting in the Philippines and Indonesia and stayed clear of any involvement in the unrest in mainly-Muslim southern Thailand.
"We do not see what is happening as having its roots in Malaysia. For example, the militancy in southern Philippines, it is not caused by us, but we played hosts for negotiations between the Filipino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who were at odds with each other," he told reporters on Nov 20 when asked to comment on the tendency of some quarters to blame Malaysia for their terrorism or separatist problems.
"We also placed our soldiers there for two years as part of a peacekeeping mission. Malaysia also helped out in Aceh where now the warring parties have agreed to peace and in southern Thailand, we never interfere at all as it is their internal matter."
On the involvement of Malaysians in terrorist activities abroad, Mr Najib, who is also Defence Minister, said: "It's very unfortunate that Malaysians like Dr Azahari Husin and Noordin Mohd Top played leading roles in the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist organisation in Indonesia, but these are matters beyond our control."
Bomb-expert Azahari was killed during a gunbattle with Indonesian police in East Java on Nov 9. Noordin, his right-hand man, remains at large in Indonesia.
Indonesian media reports have recently claimed that sympathisers in Malaysia had funded militants linked to Azahari and Noordin.
In the past, Thai politicians have also blamed Malaysia for the insurgency in Thailand's south, saying militants were training across the border.
Mr Najib said: "It's best to study the underlying causes and not be quick to lay blame on others without any concrete evidence."
* Don't link us to terrorism, Najib (Bernama, Nov 20)
* No proof Malaysia funded terrorists (New Straits Times, Nov 18)