OCT 22, 2002 TUE
Malaysia is safe, Abdullah assures
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi assured foreign governments yesterday that his country was safe from terror threats.
The assurance came a day after Australia postponed a film festival and education fair here because of fears of regional terrorism.
He urged countries not to cancel any planned events in Malaysia or advise their citizens to avoid travelling here because of the recent bomb attacks in neighbouring Indonesia and the Philippines.
'Maybe other countries that are easily scared will follow' Australia's move to reschedule its events in Malaysia,' he said.
'But those who are a little braver will think a little harder, will make inquiries for information,' he added. 'I believe they will obtain information that will convince them that our country is peaceful and safe.'
The Australian High Commission announced on Sunday that it was postponing the two events scheduled for later this month owing to 'new information about possible generic threats in the region'. This came in the wake of the Oct 12 Bali nightclub bombing that killed nearly 200 people, many of them Australian.
Canberra last week urged its citizens in Indonesia to consider leaving and warned of increased risks of terrorist activity in nine other South-east Asian nations.
In Malaysia, Australians should 'avoid any large public gatherings', the government said.
Since August last year, the Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 70 suspected Islamic militants, including dozens accused of belonging to the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah regional militant organisation.
It has been fighting hard on several fronts to clear its name of any taint of terrorism.
It has threatened to sue the weekly Far Eastern Economic Review, which apologised last week for identifying Malaysia incorrectly as a country where bombings linked to JI have taken place.
It is also considering legal action against Sri Lankan academic Rohan Gunaratna, the author of a book allegedly linking the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to the Al-Qaeda terror network. --AP, AFP