DATO SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD

DATE             : 02/09/1998 
FUCTION      :
                          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

   own countries.


   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

   or ignored.


   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