Mar. 21, 2003

Cut diplomatic ties with US, UK,
unionists urge Malaysia

Agence France-Presse

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's biggest labor federation called on the government Friday to cut diplomatic ties with the United States and Britain in protest against the war in Iraq.
"We urge the Malaysian government to not just talk about opposing the US attacks in Iraq but to walk the talk," said G. Rajasekaran, secretary-general of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).
Around a hundred trade union leaders representing the MTUC's 550,000 members were due to march in the administrative capital of Putrajaya later Friday to hand a memorandum on their demands to Acting Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
"The government should downgrade or cut off diplomatic ties with the US and UK immediately instead of just making statements," Rajasekaran told AFP.
This was necessary to give effect to the government's clear opposition to the war, otherwise powerful nations would continue to act in contempt of world opinion, he said.
"Malaysia should also initiate a UN resolution to apply sanctions against the US and UK, just as Iraq has had sanctions imposed on them."
Britain is US President George W. Bush's staunchest ally on Iraq, having sent 45,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen, 120 tanks, a 17-ship naval task force and more than 100 warplanes to the Gulf.
The Malaysian government has strongly condemned the war on Iraq, but Abdullah Thursday called on the country's Muslim majority to ensure that protests against the invasion were peaceful.