NEW YORK – The new Malaysian permanent representative to the United Nations, who assumed office few weeks back, considers multilateralism to be very important for Malaysia.
The envoy, Datuk Syed Mohamad Hasrin Aidid, explained in an interview with Bernama in his office at the Malaysian mission, that “the multilateral system is important to us, as any change can impact us”.
“The UN is an important platform to project our development. Malaysia plays an active role at the UN,” said Mohamad Hasrin who has been in Malaysia’s diplomatic service since June 1994 and brings a wealth of diplomatic experience in earlier postings abroad, including at the Malaysian mission in New York, as consul general in Dubai, the deputy chief of mission at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta and as Malaysian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.
The envoy said that multilateralism, as manifested at the world body, was an essential element in solving the world’s problems.
Reflecting on the UN evolution of the world body, which celebrates its 75th birth anniversary in 2020, he said that the world’s geopolitics had changed, pointing out that lot of discussions were taking place on the changing relations of the big powers, as reflected in the ongoing US-China trade war, etc.
“We feel our voice should also be heard. We need a rules-based order (not only) in international security but also in international trade which should be free and fair. In our view, it is unfair to impose tariffs, for example, on our palm-oil exports. That is why I would reiterate that globalisation should be based on a free and fair international trading system,” he explained.
Malaysia will also pursue the Palestine issue which requires a two-state political solution, according to Mohamed Hasrin.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports more than five million registered Palestinian refugees, faces chronic shortage of funding with the U.S., its largest contributor, having withdrawn its support from the agency.
“We will continue our support for the Palestine issue at the UN and work with other member states,” he said.
Malaysia had taken the lead, along with other non-permanent Security Council members, to table Security Council resolution 2334 on December 23, 2016 on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem. The resolution was passed with a 14-0 vote by UNSC members. The four veto-wielding permanent members, China, France, Russia and Britain, voted for the resolution while the U.S. abstained.
It was the first UNSC resolution to pass regarding Israel and the Palestine territories since Resolution 1860 in 2009, and the first to address the issue of Israeli settlements with such specificity since Resolution 465 in 1980.
The Rohingya displacement was another troubling issue. Malaysia would take up this issue at international bodies, including the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Touching on the question of Malaysia’s contribution to the UN peace-keeping forces, the envoy said that Malaysia had steadfastly contributed with peacekeepers – the “blue helmets”, as they are called – under the UN flag.
“Since independence, Malaysia has contributed a total of 31,000 troops; the largest contingent of peacekeepers is stationed in Lebanon, including a large number of female peacekeepers. We have also been conducting specialised UN Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination Course in May at the Malaysian Peacekeeping Centre in Port Dickson,” he recalled.
Mohamad Hasrin said that many states had also expressed their desire that the US and Russia would continue their arms agreement. The US recently withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.
The US withdrawal puts an end to a landmark arms control pact that has limited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers and is sparking fears of a new arms race.
The Malaysian envoy will chair the Third Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
NPT held its third session from April 29 to May 10 this year at the UN in New York. This was the third and final session prior to the 2020 Review Conference.
The NPT is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. “We have a lot of work to do, especially since next year is the 50th anniversary of the NPT,” Mohamed Hasrin said.
He pointed out that Malaysia’s national development goals were, in fact, in sync with the UN’s Social Development Goals (SDGs) as outlined in the 2030 Agenda.
“We have almost eradicated poverty. Presently, poverty is only one per cent and our next target will be to ensure that all Malaysians enjoy equality in prosperity and development. Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Ministry has already put in place a SDG Progress Monitoring System,” he said.