DOHA, Dec 14 -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said it is important for all countries to work together and learn from each other on issues that could affect the way they approach the world.
Speaking at the Doha Forum 2019 titled “Reimagining Governance in a Multipolar World” from Malaysia’s perspective on Saturday, the prime minister said no country could live in isolation, and in the case of Malaysia, it seeks partners and friends, not alignments.
“We are at a point in history where countries will need to have relationships across a broad spectrum. We have to accept the fact that we neither live in a unipolar nor in a bipolar world.
“We live in a multipolar world, in which there should be no hegemonic nation but interconnected relationships that go in multiple directions. In other words, it could be described as an integration of diversity and creativity among cultures, nations and economies in the world,” he said.
Among those present at the forum was the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Dr Mahathir said all countries must acknowledge that isolationism is now impossible and advances in communications have made us all next-door neighbours with porous borders.
“Countries that still believe in hegemony will only create friction, tension and instability. Therefore, a multipolar world has to be combined with a greater integration among friends and partners, as well as continued multilateral diplomacy at the global arena,” he added.
Dr Mahathir stressed that the first place Malaysia looks for friends and partners will be at its neighbours on the back of its slogan ‘prosper-thy-neighbour.
“Today’s world is confronted with increased concerns over the sustainability of global economic growth in the face of rising financial, political, social and environmental challenges. In Southeast Asia, 10 countries decided to work as a group. The net result is stability and prosperity,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said as one of the founding fathers of ASEAN, Malaysia continues to play a significant role in ASEAN’s community building and regional integration.
He said it has been the cornerstone for Malaysia foreign policy, and despite its members’ diverse political, economic and cultural fabrics, ASEAN has maintained peace and stability within the region for the past 52 years.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia is a friendly nation and wants to be friends with everyone and enemy of none, with one obvious exception.
“Our population is too small to provide a good market. We need the global market. There is no provision in the UN (United Nations) that allows one country to impose unilateral sanctions on another country. Unilateral sanctions create problems for other countries as well.
“Malaysia and many others lost a big market when the US sanctions are applied against Iran. Malaysia does not support the reimposition of the unilateral sanctions by the US against Iran. Such actions clearly violate the United Nations Charter and international laws. Sanctions can only be applied by the United Nations, in accordance with its Charter,” he said.
“I wish to reiterate my address at the recent United Nations General Assembly on this issue. If we want to have sanctions, let us have a law to govern them,” Dr Mahathir added.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said the trade war is just like all wars - primitive and favours the strong against the weak.
“It is the choice of bullies. It is unworthy of our claim to be concerned about human rights and values. The people who suffer the most are the poor people. They are the people that will suffer from deprivation, from high cost, shortages and the like.
“Conflicts over trade will occur. But their resolutions must be through negotiations, arbitration or through a court of law consented to by countries concerned. In all conflicts there must be a willingness to give up something in order to get something,” he said.
He also noted that climate change is another issue that is posing a grave threat to food security, access to clean water, livelihoods, infrastructure, economic and socio-cultural development gains, and it is a real concern for all.
Dr Mahathir said the global nature of this phenomenon requires a concerted and coordinated global response by all countries to address the current climate impacts and to reduce future impacts of climate change.
“For Malaysia, we have already begun undertaking measures to reduce emissions and to deliver our part on the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These are our efforts to prevent the devastating impacts that climate change may bring - not just for us but for our future generations,” he added.