SPEECH BY : THE PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA
DATO SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD
: DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
FUCTION : THE 12th CONFERENCE OF THE
HEADS OF STATE OR
HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE NON-ALIGNED
May I offer my congratulations to you Mr President on
your assumption of the Chairmanship of the Non-Aligned
Movement (NAM). My delegation and I are happy to be here
in South Africa again, this time in this beautiful city of
2. Please allow me also to express my sincere
appreciation to His Excellency President Andres Pastrana
of Colombia and, through him, to former President Ernesto
Samper for steering the Movement through the past three
years. Colombia's efforts as Chairman since our last
meeting in Cartagena have added more vigour to NAM's
3. Given the importance of the issue of apartheid in the
context of NAM and the role that our Movement played
towards its elimination, this meeting in Durban is of
particular significance for NAM. NAM rejoiced when South
Africa was freed from the odious apartheid regime and
achieved majority role. It is therefore most fitting
that President Mandela, the living symbol of the epic
struggle to end apartheid, has now taken over the mantle
of leadership of NAM. South Africa had for long been at
the core of NAM's effort to uphold the cherished
principles of freedom, justice and equality. This long
association, coupled with its active role in the Movement,
strengthens our confidence in South Africa's qualification
to lead NAM into the new millennium.
4. When NAM was founded in 1961 the world was divided
into two blocs, into Eastern and Western camps, into
Communists and non-Communists. It was an unstable world,
with the nuclear powers accumulating the weapons of mass
destruction sufficient to blow up this world. It was a
world perpetually on the brink of war. We the weak third
world countries lived in a state of trepidation and fear.
5. We felt a need to come together to protect our mostly
recently gained independence, our hopes and aspirations.
We did not want to be aligned with any of the blocs but to
retain our freedom of choice, our own systems of
Government, our rights as sovereign nations.
6. In this we felt we could succeed because we were in
many instances being wooed by both East and West. We had
the option to align ourselves with one or the other. And
that option forced the two blocs to treat us with a
modicum of consideration. Both were ready to extend help,
to give aid and loans and gifts etc. Their courting
enabled us to retain our precious independence. We were, I
believe, a little bit spoilt because of the courting.
7. Then the Eastern block decided to throw in the towel.
They surrendered unconditionally and a bipolar world
became unipolar overnight. Some of us liked to believe
that the more humane and righteous bloc won. Dictatorships
were out and enlightened democracy apparently triumphed.
Surely we would be seeing a better world, a world where
human rights are respected, where the rule of law prevails
internationally and nationally. We would see a world of
free countries exercising their rights freely.
8. But I think we are wrong. The loss of the option to
defect has exposed us to threats from which we find
nowhere to hide. We have to submit or we would be
bludgeoned into submission.
9. We have seen ample demonstrations of the kind of
things that can happen to those who fail to submit. I
will not elaborate but suffice to say that we and our
people, innocent or otherwise, are no longer safe. An eye
for an eye is said to be the basis of Muslim justice, but
for the vengeful powers one eye is not sufficient. Two or
more eyes can be exacted for the loss of one. It does not
matter if the eyes belong to the innocent. The important
thing is to teach the world a lesson. Submit or be
10. But physical assault is not the only weapon of the
powerful. A new weapon has been found which is even more
effective. Merely by devaluing the currency of a nation
and so impoverishing it, submission can be obtained even
from the proudest and the most independent of nations.
11. The highly successful dragons and tigers of East Asia
have now found how flimsy are their great economies. They
had thought that their mastery of industrial technologies
and management skills would enable them to grow into
developed nations, able to compete in the market place
with the most developed nations of the Western bloc. But
in a few months their decades of achievements have been
destroyed and they are reduced to begging for help.
12. When we achieved independence the world believed in
the sovereignty of nation-states. Proudly we maintained
that our internal affairs and our internal policies are
our own to determine. Our former colonisers should leave
us alone. While the Cold War lasted they did. But once
the Cold War was over the triumphant victors began to
enunciate new concepts of international relations which
could give them back their dominant imperial role.
13. After the Gulf War demonstrated that indeed there is
now only one power, a new concept of international
relations was introduced. Briefly no country is sovereign
if that country is judged by the Western bloc to have
breached their norms of correct behaviour. Initially
violation of human rights is expected to warrant
interference in the internal affairs of independent
nations. Very quickly the right to interfere extended to
political and economic systems or policies.
14. Now every nation must adopt the so-called free and
open market system which will enable the rich and
avaricious capitalists of the Western nations to enter and
leave any country at will. They can own and set up banks
and businesses everywhere and anywhere unfettered by the
national needs and aspirations of any nation. They must
be free to revalue and devalue currencies and shares
unimpeded by Government rules, laws and regulations. They
will control and determine the exchange rates of all
currencies anywhere, anytime. But the world must not know
who they are and how they work. While they require
Governments to be open and transparent, they themselves
will remain shadowy and their operation closed to
15. The countries of the world have two choices, submit
or be impoverished by having their currencies devalued and
their share markets destroyed. Unfortunately whether they
submit or they don't the result is the same. From being
stable and prosperous they will now become poverty-
stricken and beset with political and social turmoil.
Today more than 25 million workers in the countries
attacked by these capitalists have lost their jobs. This
means that they have no food, no medicine and no milk for
their children. For this the blame is put squarely on the
Governments of these countries for not providing a safety
net in the form of unemployment benefits. That the
practice in Asia is to provide lifetime employment is not
considered good for the workers. According to Western
belief workers should be sacked if the business is not
doing well and the Government will support them. Sackings
and uncertainty of employment is considered better than
guarantee of life-time employment. And so millions of
workers in East Asia are now unemployed because the
countries are being forced to accept the so-called
superior Western practices.
16. With tens of thousands of businesses and many scores
of banks folding up Governments are now without adequate
revenue to pay wages and fund public works. The loans
they have been forced to take will ensure that for decades
to come they will be debt slaves to the rich in the world.
17. That the free flow of capital and the right of
speculators to determine the exchange rates of currencies
have clearly destroyed many vibrant economies, resulting
in chaos and extreme poverty, have not resulted in any
second thoughts on the rightfulness of the free market
system, of unregulated capitalism and the free-flow of
capital across borders. Instead the economic recession
and accompanying problems are blamed on the Governments.
The market forces are merely disciplining Governments so
that they will adopt superior Western ways of governance
and management of the economy.
18. The protests of the victims are not only ignored but
they are actually censored by the international media
controlled by the West. Apparently freedom of speech and
the press is not for everyone. And so the capitalists of
the West continue to revel in the ease with which they can
strip the wealth of the world. Their raids and attacks
have become more frequent and more widespread. Even the
former bastion of the Eastern bloc are not free from them.
19. Logically globalisation and a borderless world should
mean not just a free flow of capital across borders but
also of people. Yet the proponents of a borderless world
object strongly to the free flow of people into their
countries. Actual fences are being erected so as to stop
the people from poor countries from coming in. Those who
manage to overcome the physical barriers are subjected to
physical abuses and forced to recross the borders. In
fact those who profess religions which are not approved
are subjected to ethnic cleansing and forced out of their
20. Again we see here double standards. While
globalisation is interpreted as the free flow of capital
and goods from rich countries to poor countries, the free
flow of people across borders into rich countries is not
considered consistent with borderlessness and
21. The tendency of the rich and the powerful to
interpret everything to their advantage is not confined to
countering alleged terrorism and the markets of the world.
It extends into ideology and systems of decision making
and Governments. Thus the world is being told and indeed
being pressured into the acceptance of liberal democracy
and the will of the majority. Those who fail to accept
democratic practices of the most liberal kind are
subjected to harassments, sanctions, bad-mouthing by the
media and a variety of threats and pressures. That such
acts are actually undemocratic do not bother the liberal
democrats of the first world. Thus leaders of independent
nations are kidnapped and tried under laws which they
never subscribed to, harbours are mined and economic
sanctions applied unilaterally.
22. Yet in the United Nations there is not the slightest
semblance of democracy. Anyone of five countries can veto
the will of the majority, in fact can do anything they
like in the name of the Organisation simply because they
won a war fifty years ago. And so one country can reject
the will of six billion inhabitants of this planet while
demanding that other countries accept liberal democracy.
They see no contradiction in their stand.
23. The interpretations of the United Nations'
Resolutions have been appropriated by a few powers in the
United Nations Security Council. The United Nations
General Assembly is totally ignored and bypassed. And so
the United Nations' Resolutions in favour of their
proteges are upheld while those in favour of the countries
not categorised as their clients are either misinterpreted
24. The United Nations is a great concept but it was
formed by an exclusive club of Nations who presumed they
had a monopoly of the right to determine the shape of this
world forever because they won World War II. It was an
example of justice according to the victors. Such justice
is obviously biased. But nevertheless they will resist
any reform of the United Nations which might impinge upon
their right to use the United Nations to legitimise their
national policies. Democratic processes are no argument
for them to change their stance. They and in particular
the most powerful among them will do just what they like
in the furtherance of their national policies.
25. Those of us who entertain hopes of democratic reforms
in the United Nations should give up our dreams. We are
not going to see anything like the reforms we envisage.
If there is to be any reform it is only going to
strengthen the hands of those who are already strong and
who want more power for themselves.
26. The fact is that after fifty years of being free,
largely on account of the Eastern and Western blocs
confronting each other, our freedom is being eroded and
colonialism is coming back. Of course it is not going to
take the same form, but it is colonialism all the same.
The strong and the mighty will quite literally rule us,
determine our fate and our roles in the international
scheme of things. Poor as we are we will be exploited
even as in the past they exploited us.
27. Our only hope lies in staying together. The
relevance of being non-aligned in a unipolar world may be
questioned. But there are any number of reasons for us to
stay together. Divided one by one we will succumb. But
in unity there is a chance that we will survive and
possibly retain our integrity and independence.
28. The Non-Aligned Movement is therefore worth saving
and rejuvenating. After our meeting in Belgrade a small
group made up of 15 non-aligned nations was set up to
experiment with South-South Cooperation. It is not a
resounding success. Not every country is dedicated to
South-South Cooperation. But the modus operandi of
cooperation between the countries of the South have been
devised and tried out quite successfully. It is perhaps
time for truly interested members of NAM to be brought
into the scheme so that apart from our tri-yearly meet, we
can have mutually beneficial interactions. Since the
founding of the Group of 15 trade between them has
expanded by almost 400 percent. With greater effort trade
can be really substantial.
29. Clearly NAM is still a useful forum and organisation
for the countries unwilling to be mere clients of the
first world. It was founded in a bipolar world but it is
clearly still needed in a unipolar world. The need to
defend our rights is greater than ever. None of us can do
it alone but together we stand a better chance.
30. We now know that the weapons to be used against us
are not just military force but also economic forces. The
assaults through economic forces are more subtle but are
no less damaging and effective compared with military
assaults. We need to know about the economic forces that
may be used and how we may defend ourselves. As with the
struggle against colonisation, the time may come when the
good elements among the powerful will see the injustice of
their ways and throw their weight behind us. It may take
a long time as indeed colonialism took a long time to be
condemned. But God Willing, the day will come when
justice will triumph. Until then let us keep NAM alive
and let us do what we can for ourselves.
Source : Malaysian Prime Minister's Office