Mahathir  hits  out  at
rich  Western  powers

Dr Mahathir asked whether the new world of open markets would lead to more exploitation.  There was a planned effort to weaken the Asean economies by undermining their currencies.   Giant companies were swallowing up chunks of the business in the developing world.   They monopolise the services sector through their huge shipping, airlines, insurance companies and banks.   The media, print and electronic, are now controlled by them throughout the world.
MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad launched a scathing attack yesterday on rich Western nations, currency speculators and multinational companies.
  Dr Mahathir promoted Asean unity and the need to become prosperous, but he peppered his remarks to the foreign ministers of the Association of South-East Asian Nations with criticism of the United States and the European Union, without directly naming them.
  Dr Mahathir questioned whether the new world of open markets would benefit developing nations or lead to more exploitation.
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  "The world now talks glibly of a borderless world, of the information age, of open markets and open societies," he said.

  The world's most powerful nations had decided that they, and they alone, should determine the fate of every country.

  "When they agree on anything, as for example, the revalutation of the yen, we have to pay the price -- and when they quarrel we will be trampled under."

  After referring to the victory of Vietnam against "the greatest power on earth", he said no one should assume that only they had solutions to problems.   "They have failed far too often for us to know the solutions to all problems," he said.

  Dr Mahathir said Asean must resist attempts to coerce it to pass judgement, deny membership and apply pressure on potential candidates which would force that country to remain poor and therefore unstable.

  Asean members must maintain stability, economic strength and stick together to become "less susceptible to the kind of outside pressures our detractors like to apply."

  In addition to Malaysia, Asean groups Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and two new members admitted on Wednesday -- Laos and Burma.

16       THE  WEST  AUSTRALIAN  FRIDAY  JULY  25  1997

  Dr Mahathir revived by implication his concept of the East Asia Economic Caucus, a proposal for a group that would exclude Western countries, unlike the rival Australian-inspired Asia Pacific Economic Forum.

  "We are glad that when the leaders of the Asean nine meet, there will also be a meeting in North-East Asia," he said, reinforcing links to Japan, South Korea and China, which are members of the Asian team in the Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM).

  Dr Mahathir said there was a planned effort to weaken the Asean economies by undermining their currencies.   "Our economic fundamentals are good yet anyone with a few billion dollars can destroy all the progress that we have made.

  "We are told that we must open up, that trade and commerce must be totally free.   Free for whom?   For rogue speculators.   For anarchists wanting to destroy weak countries in their crusade for open societies, to force us to submit to the dictatorship of international manipulators.

  "We want to embrace borderlessness, but we still need to protect ourselves from self-serving rogues and international brigandage," Dr Mahathir said.

[ Top of Document ] [ Foot ]
  He did not name his target, but his comments were aimed at New York-based financier, George Soros, well known for his speculative plays in global currency markets.   Mr Soros has denied Dr Mahathir's charges.

  Dr Mahathir said giant companies were swallowing up chunks of the business in the developing world.

  "They monopolise the services sector through their huge shipping, airlines, insurance companies and banks.   The media, print and electronic, are now controlled by them throughout the world."

  In an apparent nod to China, Dr Mahathir said Asean would not become a military alliance and would not label anyone as a potential enemy.   He urged nations to support Asean's nuclear free zone of peace, freedom and neutrality.

  He rejected a costly arms race, saying economic prosperity was the answer to Asean security problems because it would mean Asean would be taken seriously.

  In another implied attack on the US, he rejected outside offers to protect Asean, saying that the pledge to protect human rights irrespective of borders and sovereignty had proved empty time and time again.

  Dr Mahathir said Asean countries knew what was meant by good government and their model should be emulated.


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