Execution Of Bernard Then During APEC Shows Impotence To Terrorism – OpEd


The world is still in mourning for the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris a few days ago. The execution of a Malaysian citizen Bernand Then, snatched from a restaurant in Malaysian territory six months ago by Abu Sayyaf has shown just how inept and impotent governments are to terror attacks around the world.

The execution also hints of some global coordination, that hasn’t really been seen before.

Bernard Then, along with Thien Nyuk Fun, the owner of the Ocean King Seafood restaurant was taken at gunpoint by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group six months ago in Sandakan, Sabah, in Malaysian territory. Negotiations had been going on for many months to release them. Thien was released earlier this month, but negotiations to release Then broke down as the Philippine air force reportedly bombed Abu Sayyaf held territory in air raids.

Then’s severed head was found yesterday in a sack dumped near a municipal building in Barangay City last night.

This all occurred as 21 national leaders were gathering in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

The agenda for this summit included economics, regional cooperation, and terrorism.

This is the first time that world leaders have got together after the Paris terror attacks where the coordination of attacks on Syria is being discussed. US President Barak Obama was to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin, on ways to coordinate the fight against Islamic State.

President Obama, as some other leaders are under pressure to carefully screen any future Syrian immigration, due to potential risks of letting potential terrorists slip through.

However, the beheading of the Malaysian on the first day of the APEC Summit is a complete slur of utter contempt for the Asian-Pacific leaders meeting in Manila, especially with the backdrop of the recent Paris attacks.

This symbolically highlights the powerlessness of states against terrorism. It is also a reminder that terrorism can occur within any part of the globe without any great difficulties.

This in effect signals that there are no sanctuaries free of potential terror attacks.

There is a grave risk now that governments around the world will continue to curtail the freedom of its citizens in the name of ‘the war on terror’. However frankly, nothing can be done to prevent an attack made by any perpetrators, should they have the will to do so. The world must not risk making the same mistakes as stepping up attacks on IS and other terrorist strongholds, restrict the travel of its citizens to terrorist held areas, and further restrict freedom of movement within their own countries.

A new doctrine to fight terrorism that tackles the base problems is needed. The world has been on the ‘bomb it and rendition’ paradigm since 9/11. This has made the world a more dangerous place than it was 15 years ago.

Until the world is able to find a new paradigm in approaching terrorism, it will remain impotent to senseless acts of barbarism and terror.

Murray Hunter

Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 30 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic, and researcher. As an entrepreneur he was involved in numerous start-ups, developing a lot of patented technology, where one of his enterprises was listed in 1992 as the 5th fastest going company on the BRW/Price Waterhouse Fast100 list in Australia. Murray is now an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis, spending a lot of time consulting to Asian governments on community development and village biotechnology, both at the strategic level and “on the ground”. He is also a visiting professor at a number of universities and regular speaker at conferences and workshops in the region. Murray is the author of a number of books, numerous research and conceptual papers in referred journals, and commentator on the issues of entrepreneurship, development, and politics in a number of magazines and online news sites around the world. Murray takes a trans-disciplinary view of issues and events, trying to relate this to the enrichment and empowerment of people in the region.

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