STATEMENT BY H.E. AMBASSADOR RASTAM MOHD ISA,

PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF MALAYSIA

TO THE UNITED NATIONS,

IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE

COORDINATING BUREAU OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT AT THE

 COMMEMORATIVE MEETING OF TEN YEARS OF FREEDOM IN SOUTH AFRICA

 NEW YORK, 27 APRIL 2004

 

Mr. President,

I join other speakers in congratulating you for convening this historic Commemorative Meeting at the United Nations.  We are all well aware of the momentous contributions that we, Member States of the United Nations, have collectively made in instituting change and establishing freedom in South Africa a decade ago. 

 

2.         I wish to thank His Excellency Ambassador Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo, Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, for extending this invitation to me to participate in this occasion in my capacity as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of NAM. I am honoured and privileged to be a part of it.  Ambassador Kumalo and the Delegation of South Africa have been and continue to be very active and dynamic in representing their country at the United Nations.  Colleagues in the Coordinating Bureau of NAM recall Ambassador Kumalo’s exceptional leadership and vision during South Africa’s chairmanship of the NAM Coordinating Bureau from September 1998 until February 2003. 

 

3.     On behalf of all the member states represented in the Coordinating Bureau of NAM as well as the Government and people of Malaysia, I wish to extend to Ambassador Kumalo and, through him, to the Government and people of South Africa our sincere congratulations and warm felicitations on the auspicious occasion of the commemoration of Ten Years of Freedom in South Africa today.  The Non-Aligned Movement happily shares this joyous occasion with South Africa.

 

4.     This is indeed a historic day.  The strenuous efforts and contributions made by NAM in ensuring the realization of freedom in South Africa are well known and well documented.  NAM had been engaged on the issue of apartheid right from the very beginning of the Movement’s inception. Precisely at the First NAM Summit in Belgrade in September 1961, NAM had resolutely condemned the policy of apartheid practised by the Union of South Africa and demanded the immediate abandonment of this policy. NAM had also championed the fight against apartheid at the United Nations.  Then and now, NAM has maintained the position that the policy of racial discrimination anywhere in the world constitutes a grave violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Mr. President,

 

5.     The Non-Aligned Movement takes great satisfaction in its consistent, continuous and constructive efforts at various levels to bring about a just and lasting end to policies such as that practised then by the apartheid regime in South Africa.  The day of freedom and democracy which eventually came to South Africa on 27 April 1994 marked the day when South Africans from all walks of life and across the colour spectrum stood in line to cast their precious and long-desired right to vote.  We know that the vast majority of them were doing it for the first time in their lives.  But they did exercise their right with determination.  They voted for a non-racial and democratic government.  The Non-Aligned Movement shared the joy felt by the people of South Africa then just as the Movement had shared their pain and suffering during the days of apartheid.

 

6.     With its newfound freedom and democracy, South Africa has played a tremendously active and proactive role in international relations, including at the United Nations.  South Africa has certainly made its mark as a leader in the family of nations.  It has made very important contributions towards peace and security as well as development, not only in Africa but throughout the world. South Africa has unequivocally renounced weapons of mass destruction and played a constructive role in advancing the aspirations of the Non-Aligned Movement in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. 

 

7.     In the ten years of freedom, South Africa has hosted international conferences such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 1999, the World Conference against Racism in 2001 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development as well as the inaugural Summit of the African Union in 2002.  Of particular pride and gratitude to NAM is the fact that South Africa became a most hospitable and gracious host to the XII NAM Summit in September 1998 and subsequently steered the Movement as a very able and innovative Chairman for over four years until February 2003. 

 

Mr. President,

 

8.     The Non-Aligned Movement maintains the highest regard and admiration for the leadership role and vision provided by South Africa.  My country, Malaysia is especially gratified to have inherited the leadership of the Movement from South Africa including the Chairmanship of the NAM Coordinating Bureau here in New York.

       

9.     The struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa, epitomised by Mr. Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress for over four decades is indeed one of the greatest epics of all time.  The blood, sweat and tears as well as the ultimate sacrifice of numerous individuals struggling to free themselves from the despicable of the tyranny of apartheid continue to be admired by all.  Today, the world still has a lot to learn from the remarkable experience of South Africa. 

 

10.    The chilling days are over in South Africa when once, it was a crime to walk through a Whites Only door, to ride a Whites Only bus, and to use a Whites Only drinking fountain.  It was a crime to walk on a Whites Only beach and to be on the streets past eleven o’clock.  It was a crime not to have a pass book and a crime to have the wrong signature in that book.  Today, South Africans, regardless of the colour of their skin, are free and equal before the eyes of the law.  South Africans have demonstrated their collective resolve and wisdom to leave the horrific past behind them and look ahead towards a bright and promising future.  Today, South Africans have enjoyed ten years of freedom. The Non-Aligned Movement is confident that this day of freedom will certainly continue to be commemorated with pride and dignity in decades to come.  The Non-Aligned Movement finds strong inspiration in the experience of South Africa in the Movement’s struggle to eliminate injustices in the international system. 

 

Mr. President,

 

11.    I wish to reiterate the unequivocal commitment of the Non-Aligned Movement and its Member Countries to the cause of peoples throughout the world in seeking freedom and democracy.  Apartheid and other similar practices have no place in a civilized global community.  Our collective duty now is to ensure their total elimination, wherever they exist.  The Non-Aligned Movement will continue to play its part and the NAM Coordinating Bureau will play its part at the United Nations.

 

Thank you.