UN members must stay cautious of terrorism possibility during COVID-19 – Muhyiddin


Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said apart from the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic, United Nation members need to stay cautious of the possibility of terrorism rearing its ugly head in this time of uncertainty. 

He said in the midst of the pandemic, transparent communication, good networking and greater intelligence cooperation at the national as well as international levels are imperative to counter-terrorism and radicalisation.

Speaking at the General Debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York virtually, Muhyiddin said nations must never discount the fact that terrorist groups could be ramping up their efforts to take advantage of the present uncertain times to further enhance their agenda.

“This is a psychological war waged on the vulnerable and we must win over “hearts and minds” to succeed. Effective communication strategies at all available channels must be prioritised to ensure that misinformation and disinformation is countered, without infringing respective domestic laws,” he said. 

On access to the COVID-19 vaccine, Muhyiddin said the manufacturing of a vaccine must promote international collaboration rather than nationalistic competition as saving lives should be UN members’ priority.

“We must remember that COVID-19 does not discriminate and because of that, our response should not too. 

“The pandemic has levelled the playing field for all nations and the race is on to obtain a vaccine. Until or unless we obtain the anti-viral medication required to treat and a vaccine to prevent this novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we can never fully declare victory against it,” he said. 

At the same time, he, nevertheless lamented UN’s slow action in aiding the response of Member States to COVID-19, citing that in the first few months of the pandemic, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) failed to discuss the issue although COVID-19 clearly poses a grave threat to the security of the world. 

He said the United Nations Security Council had adopted a resolution to demand an immediate cessation of hostilities only on July 1, which would allow nations to refocus resources on combatting the pandemic. 

“This is a positive step. However, we can only imagine the benefits of such action if it had been undertaken much sooner,” he said, adding that it is about time that the Security Council composition better reflects the UN’s current membership. 

In addition, Muhyiddin also pointed out that the five permanent seats in the Security Council which were reserved for the veto-wielding five victors of a World War has proven that the organisation (UN) needs to be reformed. 

“There would not be an alliance to pursue a common goal if one party thinks it has more right to decide than the others. Since 1946, the veto has been wielded more than 200 times. There is nothing democratic in the way the veto is used. 

“The veto is open to abuse, be it sanctimoniously, hypocritically, or to uphold wrongdoings. This is why we need to move the reform process forward. Only with an improved Security Council and United Nations can the world hope to see problems being addressed effectively,” he said.