11 Oct 1998
Malaysia, as expected, was last Thursday easily elected by a massive majority - 174
votes out of possible 176 votes - for a third time in 41 years to be a non-permanent
member of the powerful UN Security Council for a two-year term effective in the New
Malaysia replaces Japan, the Philippines, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Chile obtained one vote
each and Greece 87 votes.
A European ambassador told me minutes after the results came out that it was a good
endorsement for Malaysia despite the troubles at home.
He said: "In view of what had taken place in Kuala Lumpur it is an extremely
good result; a salutary tribute to the Malaysian government and its people."
The other winners were: Argentina (171 votes), Namibia (167 votes), Canada (131 votes)
and the Netherlands (122 votes).
Argentina replaces Costa Rica, Namibia Kenya, Canada and the Netherlands took over
seats vacated by Sweden and Portugal.
We first served the Council in 1964-65 sharing the two-year term with Czechoslovakia
(one year each) and again in 1989-90.
Malaysia is a prominent proponent for reforming the Council.
Many nations want reform of the UN, the Security Council in particular, on the grounds
that the present setup is not consistent with today's realpolitik and continually
changing political developments.
Brazil, Germany, Japan, South Africa and India are bucking for permanent seats in
addition to the existing permanent five with veto powers - the US, China, Russia,
Britain and France.
All are qualified although one or two of them have better credentials!
One nation which is opposed to Germany and Japan as permanent members is Italy whose
chief spokesman is my good friend, the formidable Ambassador Francesco Paolo Fulci,
Rome's long-time Permanent Representative at the UN.
Every nation agrees that the reform is long over due, however, after five years of
talking it does seem to me (after more than two years here) "the reformasi"
is no where near achieving its objective - the enlargement of the Security Council's
Fulci reiterated to me for the "hundredth time" at the Asean Ministers'
reception two weeks ago that Rome wanted "a more democratic, a more transparent
Security Council", adding that "the various positions remain unresolved;
still wide apart Abdullah, five permanent members are enough, more than enough in-fact.
"What I want is every nation's participation, without exclusion."
Always friendly and courteous to me he said Italy had submitted a new proposal of
its own; increasing the membership of the Security Council by another eight or ten
non permanent seats (now ten) to enable more frequent rotations to occur for some
In any event that is what is happening, some countries rotate more offer than others.
Their contributions to the UN in general and their donations to the peacekeeping
operations do carry weight.
Contributions to peacekeeping include providing troops.
Election to the Security Council is keenly contested.
It has produced occasionally very "expensive races".
I have a fairly rough idea what it takes to win, and I had written about it in previous
What is our stand on reform?
We look for a comprehensive reform and restructuring of the influential Security
This means the enlargement of the membership in both categories - permanent as well
as non-permanent circumscribing, if not totally abolishing the use of the veto power,
improving the working methods of the Council including increased transparency, accountability
and participation by the larger membership of the world body via more open debates
on issues of peace, sanctions and any other subjects which are vital for world peace
and the international community.