Anwar praises PM in jetliner tragedy

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today praised the prime minister for brokering a deal with pro-Russian rebels to retrieve the remains of the passengers and the black boxes from the MH17 crash site.

He said a responsible leader would put the lives of his people above everything else and praised Datuk Seri Najib Razak for using diplomacy in negotiating with rebel leader Alexander Borodai.

"I would like to congratulate the PM and the government on the way they handled this tragedy. The situation was complicated because it involved the clash between two powerful nations," he said in debating the motion on the MH17 tragedy in parliament.

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday reported that Najib used "secret diplomacy" with pro-Russian rebels to reach an agreement to retrieve the bodies and black boxes from the crash site.

Anwar said Najib's actions might be controversial, but it was the mark of a responsible leader.

"I feel that a responsible leader will put the lives of his people who perished in the incident above everything else."

The Boeing 777-200 was on the way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was struck down by a surface-to-air missile near the war-torn region of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine last Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

The pro-Russian rebels and Moscow have denied responsibility for the incident and have blamed the Ukrainian military instead. Kiev has also denied any involvement in the incident.

The de facto PKR leader said that although it was unclear who was responsible for the crash, the Malaysian government should push the international community to uncover the truth about the disaster.

"We also have to take a stern and tough stand to call on the international community to bring those responsible to justice.

"Because it is an international crime, there should not be any attempt to cover up or protect those responsible," he said, adding that the advanced weaponry used to down the plane could only come from either Russia or the United States.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng also praised Najib, saying that the DAP agreed with the prime minister’s actions in using "quiet diplomacy" to achieve a positive outcome.

"We agree with the PM that in this conflicted area, quiet diplomacy is the best way to get what we want.

"It was a risky move because it involves dealing with someone who is not a recognised leader (Borodai). And in fact, diplomatic protocols were breached. But it was worth it," he told the House.

Lim also said that the party's stand is to support any effort to bring back the bodies of the victims of the crash, in order to bring closure for the families.

Malaysia should not be scared to call up the ambassadors of both Ukraine and Russia to demand an explanation from them over their countries' involvement in the shootdown.

"How can we make sure that it was the rebels who did it and how can we know if the Russians are the ones who supported them?

"We should not be fearful about calling up these diplomats and demanding an explanation, just like Germany did not hesitate to call up the US diplomat to get an explanation over the spying allegations," he said.

Lim, who is also Bagan MP, said if Russia was responsible, the Malaysian government should join the US and the European Union in imposing sanctions on the country.

"Malaysia has to be prepared to cancel the space programme with Russia if it does not cooperate in the investigations into the disaster and also join in the sanctions on Russia by the international community.

"We are the political victims between conflicting powers and we are not involved or interested in the political conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

"But if they are the ones who did it, they must be punished. We only want our prople to be safe and we want justice for the victims of MH17."

MIC deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam called on Asean to convene an emergency meeting to condemn the downing of MH17 and to exert pressure to identify the "terrorists" responsible for the crime.

"This tragedy is a huge crime and those responsible for it are criminals and murderers who should face the full brunt of the law," he said. – July 23, 2014.