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Malaysia PM's stealth approach in MH17 negotiation earns praise

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP's Lim Guan Eng among those who praised Malaysia PM Najib's handling of the MH17 negotiations.

KUALA LUMPUR: The risk taken by Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in negotiating with the leader of separatists over the MH17 tragedy in Ukraine has earned praise from the opposition.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Najib's stealth approach when negotiating with pro-Russian separatist leader Alexander Borodai was correct.

"The negotiation may spark controversy but it is the correct thing to do. As a responsible leader, the prime minister must protect the people's interest and there is no other way than to negotiate with the separatists," he said when debating the motion condemning action leading to the MH17 tragedy at a special sitting of parliament on Wednesday (July 23).

Anwar stressed that parties responsible for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft must be brought to justice. "We must ensure that those responsible are brought to the international court. I urge the government to be firm and must not fear to prosecute despite going against two super powers."

He said the opposition strongly supported government efforts to find the truth about the MH17 tragedy and to bring back the remains of Malaysians.

Lim Guan Eng said the stealth diplomacy deployed by the government was a good way to achieve the desired results. The DAP supported the government's efforts to bring home the remains of victims and to ensure a thorough investigation and justice for the victims.

Lim said the DAP is confident and will continue to support national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS). "As a token of appreciation and support for MAS employees, we will continue to fly Malaysia Airlines, if time permits."

He urged the government to apply pressure on Moscow, including economic pressure, if they failed to cooperate in dealing with the MH17 tragedy. "We must not be afraid to use whatever influence we have to apply pressure and get to the truth."

Lim proposed that Malaysia defer payment for the purchase of Sukhoi SU-30MKM fighter jets worth US$900 million. "The 18th aircraft was delivered in August 2011 and if Malaysia has yet to settle payment, we must be willing to defer payment. If we feel that Russian authorities do not fully cooperate with the international community, Malaysia must be prepared to cancel the second Astronaut project, which is part of the purchase of the Sukhois."

Meanwhile, Datuk Mahfuz Omar said the government and MAS should learn a lesson from the MH17 tragedy to prevent a recurrence. "Following the tragedy (MH17), MAS, AirAsia, the Foreign Ministry or the government must conduct risk assessment to prepare a complete report on safe routes, especially over countries in conflict. We cannot forever rely on ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) to determine whether the routes are safe or not."

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