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Lebanon Sees Two Sides of Malaysia

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Public attention has largely been focussed on the recent arrests of two Malaysian terror suspects in Lebanon, but these are seen as isolated cases and certainly not representative of the real Malaysia.

For that, we should look at the other face of Malaysia that Lebanon will see through the Malaysian peacekeeping force serving under the United Nations. Almost 600 members of the Malaysian Battalion 5 (Malbatt 5) have now joined the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) this week.

The first group of 300 members left for Lebanon on October 22 and the second group 241 departed on Tuesday. They will have a 12-month mission in Lebanon under the UN mandate.

While it may seem ironic to the Lebanese to receive a peacekeeping force from Malaysia barely a few days after two suspects from the country were arrested on terror charges, it is in keeping with Malaysia's firm commitment to peace.

"Malaysia has been committed to UN peacekeeping efforts and we have earned the respect and acknowledgement of the international community," said the Joint Force Headquarters public affairs director Lt-Kol Salawati Yahaya.

"The arrests will not jeopardise our peacekeeping efforts because it is an isolated incident," he added.

In fact, Malaysia is not seen as a hotbed of terrorism internationally nor are the two suspects in Lebanon an indication of any broader trend within our society.

This was emphasised by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein who said Malaysia is not a regional recruitment port for terrorists.

"Terrorists don't just come into Malaysia but also travel to Middle East countries. They can be recruited anywhere as a result of today's globalisation and technology," he noted on Wednesday.

Lebanon will see Malaysia for what we truly are, a peaceful, moderate nation that is a leading regional player economically and democratically.

UNIFIL was originally created by the UN Security Council in March 1978 to confirm Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon and assist the Lebanese government in restoring its effective authority in the area.

Following the crisis in 2006, the Security Council enhanced the peacekeeping force and decided that it would also monitor the cessation of hostilities, support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon, and ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the safe return of displaced civilians.

For the Malaysian peacekeepers, their mission is an important one.

"I am very proud to represent Malaysia.

"Although this is my first mission, I am not afraid," said Kapt Amril Syahiedzran Kamarudin.

26-year old Lt Nazatul Shiena Mohd Kamarulzaman admitted that she was a little nervous about the mission.

"I'm excited but nervous about going into a conflict area," she said.

That is not surprising with the growing turmoil in neighbouring Syria. Malaysian Battalion (Malbatt) 5 troops serving under UNIFIL have been urged to be wary of any spillover from the violence in the region.

This latest mission is yet another step in Malaysia's contribution to peace. For the past 50 years, our nation has actively supported UN peacekeeping missions all over the world.

Over 20,800 military personnel and about 1,000 civilian police have served in missions in more than 20 countries. 26 brave Malaysians have lost their lives in their pursuit to uphold peace and order all over the world.

The Choice hopes that this is the face of Malaysia that Lebanon best remembers.

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