1. When in 1990 I first met Nelson Mandela upon his release, the first thing he asked was how Malaysia defeated the guerrillas. He said when he was being trained in Yugoslavia and Libya he was told that guerrillas could not be defeated. So how did Malaysia defeat the guerrillas?
2. I explained that two things helped in the defeat of the Malaysian guerrillas.
3. Firstly was the decision to move out all the people living at the fringe of the thick Malaysian jungle and located them in protected new villages. Secondly was the campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people.
4. Perhaps Jamalul Kiram knows nothing about how Malaysia dealt with the guerrillas. His suggestion about conducting a guerrilla war in Malaysia seems to be based on ignorance. Yes, in the Philippines the Moros conducted a guerrilla war for decades. While it harassed the Philippine Government it did not result in attaining independence for the south. In the end common sense prevailed and the MILF decided on autonomy for the region.
5. Malaysia followed the Moro fight very closely and is well aware that guerrillas can be disruptive. It can render Malaysia less stable and secure. But the situation today is much better for Malaysia to defeat any attempt at guerrilla war by the Kiram and Suluks.
6. In the first place the people’s hearts and minds are already with the Government. True there are some, including leaders of the political opposition who are not with the Government but they are not able to influence the minds and hearts of the vast majority of the people.
7. We know about relocating people who may be terrorised into supporting the invaders and we have the money to do it.
8. And most importantly we have the forces to fight any guerrillas who may be persuaded to risk their lives for a useless adventure.
9. The soldiers and police who are currently participating in the fight against the terrorist in Lahad Datu are well-trained and well equipped. The Malaysian forces have inherited the knowledge and the skills in fighting anti-guerrilla wars. The spirits of the Malaysian security forces are very good and the attempt to frighten them by mutilating the bodies of their comrades has not worked. If at all it has made our security personnel very angry and more determine to defeat the enemy. It has become almost a personal war for them.
10. Malaysians must be thankful to our boys for their willingness to die for the country. It is not a sandiwara (stage play). It is real. The deaths and the wounding are real. If we are safe and secure, if we are stable and free from fear of guerrilla attacks it is because our soldiers and police are ready to die for us.
11. If they are not, what happens in the Philippines can happen here also. We will not be able to go about our daily lives without the certainty we take for granted that nothing will happen to us.
12. Peace and stability do not just happen. They have to be worked at. They depend on our awareness and our not taking things for granted. Look around us. Look at the Middle East or South Asia or Africa or Latin America. Look also at the economic and financial problem of America and Europe.
13. Then relook at our country. I think there is much for us to be grateful about and to say thank you to the people who secure our peace and stability.