Posts filed under ‘Thinking Aloud’

Mahathir interview: The Straits Times

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad was interviewed by Malaysia’s fortnightly political tabloid Siasah on Aug 9. This is an extract from the interview published in the current issue of the tabloid.

THE SHAME OF IT: Today, it looks like Malaysia Tidak Boleh because we try to
seek the advice of outsiders. We ought to be ashamed at having to seek the advice of outsiders after 50 years of independence.

YES MEN: It’s the right of Umno members to topple anyone…(but) today, actually there is no Umno but Umyes. Everyone says ‘yes’. You can’t say ‘no’. At Umno meetings, no one dares speak. – TUN DR MAHATHIR

SIASAH: The Iskandar Development Region (IDR) is a massive and expensive project that is said to be very beneficial especially to Johor in the long run. But various quarters – including you, Tengku Razaleigh, PAS members and international financial analysts based in Singapore – are sceptical about whether the project will run as smoothly as planned.

Tun Dr Mahathir: We can develop our territory anywhere we like. But the problem is Singapore ‘s involvement in this project. Why must there be a special joint ministerial committee to decide on the development in Malaysia?

Why must we depend so much on Singapore’s participation to develop the IDR?
As we know, Singapore is not a good neighbour, and even if it agrees to be involved in the IDR, Singaporeans will eventually buy houses or factories and reside here.

Singapore reportedly has plans to increase its population to eight million to 10 million (sic), a large part of which will be imported from mainland China. As Singapore can only accommodate up to five million to six million, the rest of its population will probably be placed in the IDR.

So if we’re not careful, the IDR will eventually be filled with Singaporeans. Past experience has taught us that we lost Singapore because the Chinese population exceeded that of the Malays.

And tomorrow, if the government allows Singapore Chinese to occupy the IDR
(through business, employment and property purchase) to a larger extent than
the Malays, the IDR would be dominated by Singapore Chinese because the
Malays cannot afford to buy homes there.

Malacca and Penang remain in Malaysia because the Chinese population can
be offset by the large Malay population. But in Singapore, the Chinese make up
more than 75 per cent of the population while the Malays make up a mere 15 per cent. The Chinese there are rich and control the economy. For this reason, we had to release Singapore because the Chinese were too numerous and controlled the island.

And at that time, Lee Kuan Yew, who had initially agreed not to interfere in the political affairs of the peninsula, broke his promise by contesting in the 1964 general election in Bangsar, which led to the late Tunku (Abdul Rahman) becoming incensed and expelling Singapore ..

Today, we are trying to invite Singapore to enter Malaysia by participating actively in the IDR through various incentives and investment promotions. Eventually, the Johor Malays – who would initially refuse to sell their land – would be blinded by the highly lucrative offers for their properties and sell them to the Singapore Chinese for instant wealth.

After that, where will the Malays reside? They will be driven away from the rapidly developing IDR. They won’t be able to afford the costly property there and will be forced to live outside the IDR.

The IDR will then be filled with Singapore Chinese and Malaysian Chinese who can afford it. What if their numbers exceed the Malay population? We will once again lose Malay territory to the Chinese, as had happened with Singapore previously.

What about the Singapore Government’s active involvement leading to the formation of the joint ministerial committee? Is this necessary?

All this while, we had never sought anyone’s assistance or advice to develop our country. We had developed Kuala Lumpur ourselves without anyone’s aid. We never called on any foreign minister to advise us on how we should develop KL. We have the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) to plan and advise us on our development.

The development of Putrajaya, Labuan , Langkawi and the whole country was the
result of our hands and the expertise of our people. Why must we develop the IDR by seeking advice from Singapore ministers? They are just like us.

We developed this whole country without the help of foreigners and without the
advice of any foreign minister, including Singapore ‘s.

In fact, those Singapore ministers sitting on the ministerial committee can’t even make decisions without the direction and consent of the island’s most powerful man, Lee Kuan Yew.

Does this mean Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi did not receive correct advice on the IDR?

I’m not sure whether or not he received correct advice. But for sure his decision (on the IDR) is wrong.

He often boasts that the idea of the IDR project is his. A leader should be responsible for every decision made, be it on the advice of others or on his own. He has the prerogative to reject incorrect advice if he thinks it is not good for the country. And if he agrees to the advice of others, it means he can’t later wash his hands of the matter and say that the project was made on the advice of others because, ultimately, a premier must be responsible for all the decisions made.
If the government is not careful about securing the participation of bumiputeras, particularly Johor bumiputera businessmen, in the IDR project, they will be driven out of this rapidly developing zone because of unaffordability. What is the government’s role and responsibility to ensure that they are not sidelined but are protected and, if possible, actively involved in the project?

Simple. Don’t involve the Singapore government. We do it ourselves.

If they wish to invest in the IDR, we can study and consider their participation, but there’s no need to seek their advice. We have our own capabilities. We have certain bodies to play their roles. Look at all the development around us (in KL) and throughout the country – it is our own effort, without foreign assistance and advice.

All the development from the time of Tunku and Tun Razak right down to me was never carried out based on the advice of outsiders. We have the EPU to advise us.

When we decided to make Malaysia an industrialised nation, we consulted the EPU and not outsiders. We can do it if we want to because that’s our slogan: Malaysia Boleh. But today, it looks like Malaysia Tidak Boleh because we try to seek the advice of outsiders. What others can do, we can do. We ought to be ashamed at having to seek the advice of outsiders after 50 years of independence.

Take for instance the Petronas Twin Towers – we built them with our own capability and confidence. I visited many countries – Japan , America, Europe and other developed countries. I saw that we could build skyscrapers like them if we wanted to.

At first, many Malaysians doubted our ability to build the tallest building in the world. I said we try. Previously, our roads were built by foreign workers from India, but today Malaysian companies are invited to build roads and highways in India.

Indonesia too is developing a special economic zone encompassing Bintan, Karimun and Batam. Foreign investors particularly from Singapore are said to be actively involved. Won’t this affect the development of the IDR?

That’s not a problem to us. The problem is Singapore’s active participation in the IDR. I was told Indonesia gave exclusive rights to Singapore to develop Batam. Former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie aspired to make Batam like Singapore , but apparently it did not work out. An international airport was not even built, and its port is small. Singapore places its interest above that of other countries.

It does not really intend to develop the special zone.

Recently, Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew commented that investors from Singapore could not expect privileged treatment from the Malaysian government in the IDR project. He said Johor Umno members were not pleased with Singapore ‘s active participation in the project, similar to your views and criticisms. And even more strangely, he accused Johor Umno of no longer having confidence in PM Abdullah’s leadership and of wanting to topple (menjatuhkan) him. What’s your comment?

It’s the right of Umno members to topple anyone. Umno members, led by Tengku
Razaleigh, Musa Hitam, Radzi, Shahrir Samad and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had
tried to topple me too. It’s their right in a country that practises democracy. If they disapprove of a leader, we may replace him with a more qualified leader. Datuk Onn Jaafar was replaced by Tunku Abdul Rahman. And Tunku was terminated because of opposition from the people. This is common in Umno.

And the allegation about some Umno members trying to topple Abdullah may be
true. Kuan Yew may have gleaned this information from those Umno members
themselves who have vested interest. Many Umno members are now involved
in corruption and always holidaying in Singapore. These people are smart talkers purporting to serve the religion, race and country, but doing otherwise.

You are seen as being critical and have made many criticisms against the attitude of the government and Umno members, who would rather follow the leaders without trying to censure their erroneous acts.

Today, actually there is no Umno but Umyes. Everyone says ‘yes’. You can’t say ‘no’. At Umno meetings, no one dares speak. I tried to become a delegate to speak up but I was restricted through various means. No Umno member dares to speak up and take my side. All have become ‘yes men’.

This mustn’t be allowed to continue, or the Malays will become ‘yes men’ who dare not criticise leaders who commit mistakes. If we don’t criticise leaders, they will continue to make mistakes. And if we let them be, without criticising them, it means we approve of their erroneous acts. If this happens, it spells great misfortune for Umno members and Umno itself.

You are actually angrier about PM Abdullah’s scrapping of the crooked bridge
project than about other issues. What do you think are the real reasons (other than those already given by the government) that caused PM Abdullah to scrap the project, which held such great potential?

The bridge is vital to Johor’s development, especially in relationship to the development of the IDR. The Johor Causeway is too congested and Johor needs a new bridge (be it straight or crooked) that is modern and sophisticated to overcome the congestion which is worsening daily.

It is purported that the crooked bridge can’t be built because Singapore is asking for the use of airspace and the sale of sand. But the crooked bridge has had the approval of then-Singapore PM Goh Chok Tong and it can be built if the government is truly determined to do it.

Why didn’t the government go through with it? I received information that, actually, the Malaysian government – through a certain person – had agreed to sell sand to Singapore, but this was strongly opposed by Johor people (Umno). The straight bridge would have been built if Johor Malays had not opposed the plan.

The issue is, if the straight bridge could not be built, we could have proceeded to build the crooked bridge on our side. But even this, the government didn’t want to do. This is what I don’t understand.

There’s talk that Khairy Jamaluddin’s interference was the key factor influencing the PM’s decision?

This I don’t know, even though there are allegations that this is so. What I know is that when people ask about Khairy, the PM merely says: ‘He’s my son-in-law.’

There’s talk among Johoreans that the crooked bridge won’t be built now, but it may be considered and built if (Deputy Prime Minister) Najib becomes PM. What do you think?

That’ll depend on the considerations of the prime minister (Najib) and Umno then. If he thinks it’s necessary and good for the country, particularly the development and progress of Johor, he may build it. It greatly depends on the will and courage of the PM then.

Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore-Malaysia ties went through a difficult time during your rule. By ‘difficult’, is he referring to your actions, for instance, in the building of the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), which was said to have seriously affected the earnings of Singapore ‘s key port?
Besides your request to raise the selling price of raw water, which was unthinkable to Singapore , Kuala Lumpur International Airport ‘s opening too had to some extent impacted the speed of Singapore Changi Airport ‘s progress.

I had initially tried to resolve the issue amicably with Singapore, but Lee Kuan Yew refused to yield. He was very resistant and totally refused to compromise.

Sabahans and Sarawakians can withdraw their CPF money, but West Malaysians
can only do so after the age of 55. Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia. How can foreigners (Singapore ) try to differentiate between them and divide our people as they like? We are one people.

The price of water we sell is indeed not fair – 3 sen (1.3 Singapore cents) per 1,000 gallons. Today, what can be done with 3 sen? We tried to raise the price slightly but they refused, saying that the first agreement had lapsed.

In fact the agreement has not lapsed. How many thousand times the selling price they earn from selling water to their people? So I decided to give a financial allocation to Johor to build its own water filtration plant. This means we don’t depend on buying water from Singapore .

And Johor too can sell water to Malacca at 30 sen (1,000 per cent higher than the price of water sold to Singapore). Johor too can make a reasonable profit from selling water to Malacca.

Besides this, our development of PTP has angered Lee Kuan Yew because it badly affects the income of Singapore ‘s key ports. Singapore carries out all sorts of schemes to beat PTP. They reduce their ship-handling charges to woo the foreign businessmen using our ports. And they give financial loans to companies intending to use their port services. But PTP continues to progress and expand, which is what Singapore does not want to see. We are more progressive than Singapore because we try to beat its expertise.

The Indonesian government faces difficulty ratifying the Defence Cooperation
Agreement and extradition treaty with Singapore. Singapore resolutely refuses to amend the contents of the agreements with Indonesia. What’s your take?
Singapore places importance only on its own interests and not mutual interests. It does things that are more beneficial to itself than to its neighbours’ interests and needs. Singapore once considered itself a Chinese island in the middle of the Malay ocean.

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October 2, 2007 at 12:20 pm 4 comments

The tyranny of good intentions

The Shame of Being an American by Paul Craig Roberts
Dr. Roberts is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions
 G entle reader, do you know that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing in southern Lebanon? Israel has ordered all the villagers to clear out. Israel then destroys their homes and murders the fleeing villagers. That way there is no one to come back and nothing to which to return, making it easier for Israel to grab the territory, just as Israel has been stealing Palestine from the Palestinians.  Do you know that one-third of the Lebanese civilians murdered by Israel ‘s attacks on civilian residential districts are children ? That is the report from Jan Egeland, the emergency relief coordinator for the UN. He says it is impossible for help to reach the wounded and those buried in rubble, because Israeli air strikes have blown up all the bridges and roads. Considering how often (almost always) Israel misses Hezbollah targets and hits civilian ones, one might think that Israeli fire is being guided by US satellites and US military GPS. Don’t be surprised at US complicity. Why would the puppet be any less evil than the puppet master?  Of course, you don’t know these things, because the US print and TV media do not report them.  Because Bush is so proud of himself, you do know that he has blocked every effort to stop the Israeli slaughter of Lebanese civilians. Bush has told the UN “NO.” Bush has told the European Union “NO.” Bush has told the pro-American Lebanese prime minister “NO.” Twice. Bush is very proud of his firmness. He is enjoying Israel ‘s rampage and wishes he could do the same thing in Iraq.  Does it make you a Proud American that “your” president gave Israel the green light to drop bombs on convoys of villagers fleeing from Israeli shelling, on residential neighborhoods in the capital of Beirut and throughout Lebanon, on hospitals, on power plants, on food production and storage, on ports, on civilian airports, on bridges, on roads, on every piece of infrastructure on which civilized life depends? Are you a Proud American? Or are you an Israeli puppet?  On July 20, “your” House of Representatives voted 410-8 in favor of Israel ‘s massive war crimes in Lebanon. Not content with making every American complicit in war crimes, “your” House of Representatives, according to the Associated Press, also “condemns enemies of the Jewish state.”  Who are the “enemies of the Jewish state”? They are the Palestinians whose land has been stolen by the Jewish state, whose homes and olive groves have been destroyed by the Jewish state, whose children have been shot down in the streets by the Jewish state, whose women have been abused by the Jewish state. They are Palestinians who have been walled off into ghettos, who cannot reach their farm lands or medical care or schools, who cannot drive on roads through Palestine that have been constructed for Israelis only. They are Palestinians whose ancient towns have been invaded by militant Zionist “settlers” under the protection of the Israeli army who beat and persecute the Palestinians and drive them out of their towns. They are Palestinians who cannot allow their children outside their homes because they will be murdered by Israeli “settlers.”  The Palestinians who confront Israeli evil are called “terrorists.” When Bush forced free elections on Palestine , the people voted for Hamas. Hamas is the organization that has stood up to Israel . This means, of course, that Hamas is evil, anti-Semitic, un-American and terrorist. The US and Israel responded by cutting off all funds to the new government. Democracy is permitted only if it produces the results Bush and Israel want.  Israelis never practice terror. Only those who are in Israel ‘s way are terrorists.  Another enemy of the Jewish state is Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a militia of Shi’ite Muslims created in 1982 when Israel first invaded Lebanon . During this invasion the great moral Jewish state arranged for the murder of refugees in refugee camps. The result of Israel ‘s atrocities was Hezbollah, which fought the Israeli Army, defeated it, and drove it out of Lebanon . Today Hezbollah not only defends southern Lebanon but also provides social services such as orphanages and medical care.  To cut to the chase, the enemies of the Jewish state are any Muslim country not ruled by an American puppet friendly to Israel . Egypt , Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the oil emirates have sided with Israel against their own kind, because they are dependent either on American money or on American protection from their own people. Sooner or later these totally corrupt governments that do not represent the people they rule will be overthrown. It is only a matter of time.  Indeed Bush and Israel may be hastening the process in their frantic effort to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran . Both governments have more popular support than Bush has, but the White House Moron doesn’t know this. The Moron thinks Syria and Iran will be “cakewalks” like Iraq, where ten proud divisions of the US military are tied down by a few lightly armed insurgents.  If you are still a Proud American, consider that your pride is doing nothing good for Israel or for America .  On July 20 when “your” House of Representatives, following “your” US Senate, passed the resolution in support of Israel’s war crimes , the most powerful lobby in Washington, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), quickly got out a press release proclaiming “The American people overwhelming support Israel’s war on terrorism and understand that we must stand by our closest ally in this time of crisis.”  The truth is that Israel created the crisis by invading a country with a pro-American government. The truth is that the American people do not support Israel ‘s war crimes, as the CNN quick poll results make clear and as was made clear by callers into C-Span.  Despite the Israeli spin on news provided by US “reporting,” a majority of Americans do not approve of Israeli atrocities against Lebanese civilians. Hezbollah is located in southern Lebanon . If Israel is targeting Hezbollah, why are Israeli bombs falling on northern Lebanon ? Why are they falling on Beirut ? Why are they falling on civilian airports? On schools and hospitals?  Now we arrive at the main point. When the US Senate and House of Representatives pass resolutions in support of Israeli war crimes and condemn those who resist Israeli aggression, the Senate and House confirm Osama bin Laden’s propaganda that America stands with Israel against the Arab and Muslim world.  Indeed, Israel, which has one of the world’s largest per capita incomes, is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. Many believe that much of this “aid” comes back to AIPAC, which uses it to elect “our” representatives in Congress.  This perception is no favor to Israel , whose population is declining, as the smart ones have seen the writing on the wall and have been leaving. Israel is surrounded by hundreds of millions of Muslims who are being turned into enemies of Israel by Israel’s actions and inhumane policies.  The hope in the Muslim world has always been that the United States would intervene in behalf of compromise and make Israel realize that Israel cannot steal Palestine and turn every Palestinian into a refugee.  This has been the hope of the Arab world. This is the reason our puppets have not been overthrown. This hope is the reason America still had some prestige in the Arab world. The House of Representatives resolution, bought and paid for by AIPAC money, is the final nail in the coffin of American prestige in the Middle East . It shows that America is, indeed, Israel’s puppet, just as Osama bin Laden says, and as a majority of Muslims believe. With hope and diplomacy dead, henceforth America and Israel have only tooth and claw. The vaunted Israeli army could not defeat a rag tag militia in southern Lebanon . The vaunted US military cannot defeat a rag tag, lightly armed insurgency drawn from a minority of the population in Iraq , insurgents, moreover, who are mainly engaged in civil war against the Shi’ite majority. What will the US and its puppet master do? Both are too full of hubris and paranoia to admit their terrible mistakes. Israel and the US will either destroy from the air the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon , Palestine , Syria , and Iran so that civilized life becomes impossible for Muslims, or the US and Israel will use nuclear weapons to intimidate Muslims into acquiescence to Israel ‘s desires. Muslim genocide in one form or another is the professed goal of the neoconservatives who have total control over the Bush administration. Neocon godfather Norman Podhoretz has called for World War IV (in neocon thinking WW III was the Cold War) to overthrow Islam in the Middle East, deracinate the Islamic religion and turn it into a formalized, secular ritual. Rumsfeld’s neocon Pentagon has drafted new US war doctrine that permits pre-emptive nuclear attack on non-nuclear states.  Neocon David Horowitz says that by slaughtering Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, “Israel is doing the work of the rest of the civilized world,” thus equating war criminals with civilized men.  Neocon Larry Kudlow says that “Israel is doing the Lord’s work” by murdering Lebanese, a claim that should give pause to Israel ‘s Christian evangelical supporters. Where does the Lord Jesus say, “go forth and murder your neighbors so that you may steal their lands”? The complicity of the American public in these heinous crimes will damn America for all time in history.   .  

June 18, 2007 at 4:07 am Leave a comment


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