Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had its share of laments on issues ranging from the Rohingya crisis and Israel to the palm oil industry and the environment – all targeted at the West.
Where the 93-year-old leader had a pertinent gripe was on the veto power that the UN Security Council’s five permanent members enjoy. (China, France, Russia, Britain and the U.S.)
At the UNGA session on Friday, speaking in fluent English, Dr Mahathir reiterated a suggestion he had made at the same forum 15 years ago – that the veto power must be held by at least “two powers backed by three non-permanent members.”
That, to me, is a very valid point as it is a travesty of fair play if one country wields undue control over an international body! I often wonder how China became a permanent member of the U.N. Council when even Germany is not in it!
Japan is known for its war excesses particularly against China. So, Japan was out and China was in, with support from the U.S. I may or may not be wrong, but let me park my knowledge or ignorance aside and offer my thoughts from the outside, as an armchair critic, on the UNGA sessions!
India could have made a similar demand given that China has been vetoing India’s quest for NSG (Nuclear Suppliers’ Group) membership for the last several years. But then, the NSG and UNSC are different – the NSG has about 50 countries enrolled in it, including Japan. There are a few other countries opposing India’s entry into it.
Back to the UNGA session, India and Pakistan squabbled over terrorism even as the two countries were revelling in tit-for-tat beheading (as India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been quoted as saying) of their respective armed forces.
Even on terrorism, China has been vetoing India’s bid to get Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohamed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar to be declared a terrorist. So, India has a stronger case for arguing against the veto power that China enjoys.
Political Mileage, Only Aim
But then the Indian Government will get political mileage only by attacking Pakistan, which is a big friend of China!
The similarity between India and Pakistan was that their two leaders spoke in their own native languages – External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Hindi and her counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Urdu.
The veto power or the stipulation for consensus is just bogus, particularly when one of the member-nations is irresponsible and exercises under control – as I had argued in a few posts over the last two years. Let India show some vision, some cerebral power.
India must stop seeking NSG membership or for Masood being declared a terrorist. It must support Dr Mahathir’s call and start a campaign for the veto power to be taken away from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
G Joslin Vethakumar