Soviet military build-up a threat to world peace and regional stability

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, to the Socialist International Advisory Council (SIDAC) meeting held in Tokyo on November 8-10, 1984

Soviet military build-up a threat to world peace and regional stability

The SIDAC meeting in Tokyo is being held against the back-drop of two important events; the landslide re-election of US President, Ronald Reagan, and the recent tragic assassination of Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, who was also chairman of the Non-Aligned Nations Conference.

Both events are relevant to the world effort to achieve arms control and halt the madness of the arms race, as the success of disarmament endeavours would depend not only on the super-powers, the United State and the Soviet Union, but also on the Non-Aligned Nations.

With the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the pre-occupation of her successor-son Rajiv Gandhi to establish his authority as Prime Minister in India, it is unlikely that India would be able to play an active role in the international arena in the near future. This will be a loss not only to the Non-Aligned Nations, but also to world disarmament efforts to give the Third world a greater influence in world events.

Disarmament is closely intertwined with the world war against poverty and hunger, for vast sums of money spent on arms are monies lost for the fight against poverty and hunger.

If world disarmament talks are to make any impact, it must be able to relate to the problems faced by the masses of the Third World where ironically, there is trend towards greater militarisation consuming scarce resources which are more needed for socio-economic progress of the people.

The arms race in Third World countries are partly caused by internal political, socio-economic factors and partly by great power rivalries in various parts of the world.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the relentless Soviet military build-up has posed the greatest threat to world peace and regional stability.

In the early 60s, the Soviet-Union lacked an ocean-going navy, sea-based airpower, long-range transport aircraft and amphibian skipping.
She could not maintain a fleet at sea and had few friendly ports of call.

But by the early 1980s, all of these disadvantages had been overcome in the Asia-Pacific region.

The soviet Pacific fleet, the largest of the four Soviet fleets, acquired sea-based air-power in 1979 with an aircraft carrier that takes 35 vertical fighter and landing planes in 1979. It was recently reported that the Soviets had stationed ss-20 missiles at Cam Ranh Bay, changing the strategic balance in the region.

Soviet military power in Indo China have now the potential to reach every Asean capital and even the Australian cities, and to disrupt shipping in the Malaysian and Indonesian straits, which is used by the bulk of the shipping in the region, and through which passes 50% of the world’s oil supplies.

Soviet Union has gained strategic bases in South East Asia for its military and economic assistance to Vietnam, especially in the invasion and occupation of Kampuchea after the signing of the Soviet-Vietnames Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation in 1978.

Although Vietnamese leaders have repeatedly denied that USSR had been given permanet bases in Vietnam, since 1979 Soviet ships and planes regularly operate from Cam Ranh and Danang and from the Kampuchean port of Kompang Sam, which are manned by Soviet ground personnels and equipped with a sophisticated Soviet communications system.

Soviet Union has pluged South Ast Asia once again as one of the centres of Super-power contention by supporting Vietnam in the invasion of Kampuchea.

The United Nations General Assembly has recently, for the sixth year and with an even greater majority, passed a resolution calling on Vietnam to withdraw its 180,000 armies from Kampuchea, and to allow the people of Kampuchea to determine their own future under United Nations auspices

The people of Kampuchea now face the danger of cultural extinction and loss of their homeland, as hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese are settled in various parts of Kampuchea to achieve Vietnamese ‘colonization’ and drastic demographic charges.

Bolstered by Soviet military and economic support, the Vietnamese had shown little interest in military withdrawal or political settlement of the Kampuchea question.

Vietnam must be made to understand that it is to her long-term national interest not to be totally dependent on Soviet Union or to maintain one million people under arms while the people of Vietnam continue to share great poverty.

Vietnam’s security interests must be taken into consideration in any Kampuchean settlement but this could not legitimise an illegal act of invasion and occupation. Vietnam regards Kampuchea as a ‘buffer state’ but Asean nations regard a Vietnamised Kampuchea as a ‘front-line’ state threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Asean nations.

The solution must lie in the neutralisation of Kampuchea, under United Nations auspices, when the security considerations of all concerned could be satisfied.

The next century has been described as the Pacific century, to signify that the world economic and political centre would been shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Socialist International must keep in step with this trend, and pay greater attention to Asia-Pacific problems such as Indo-China, Afghanistan, the two Koreas, Soviet-Japan problem, China, the Indian Sub-Continent, etc.

Released by DAP Headquarters on November 13, 1984