Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who returned here to attend an Asean meeting after 15 years, says Malaysia is concerned over the megatrends involving the trade war between major powers.
He said the trade war was not going to benefit the countries concerned or the rest of the world.
“As Malaysia is a trading nation, it needs stability in the world market and if that is undermined, naturally the country will suffer,” he said at the inaugural Asean Leaders’ Gathering here yesterday.
“For this reason, we are all for settling all problems – not through wars of any kind but through negotiations, arbitration and resorting to the world court.
It was at the Asean Summit here that Dr Mahathir bade farewell to the 10-member grouping when he stepped down as prime minister in 2003.
This visit is Dr Mahathir’s second to Indonesia since becoming prime minister again after Malaysia’s historic general election in May.
In his address, he said he would like to see Asean assume a bigger role than before.
“I count on my Asean colleagues to work together to achieve the SDG targets for our individual countries.
“I also hope to see renewed support from the IMF, World Bank and the United Nations, through its various agencies, for Asean and for this region,” he said.
He also said Malaysia had always been very conscious of the sustainability of its development.
“It’s true that we have felled many trees in our forest to grow oil palm trees but today, we have stopped as we feel there could be other sources of income for us.
“At the same time, we are ensuring that palm oil production follows certain standards.
“We feel that we owe this to the world and we hope that the world will respond to our effort,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also referred to the attempt (by the European Union) to label palm oil from Malaysia as being unsuitable, saying that it was not at all true since palm oil had been consumed by millions of people without any harm.
“In fact, Malaysia’s forest is very sustainable with 48% being covered with virgin jungle,” he explained, adding that “we absorb much of the world’s carbon monoxide produced by others”.
He said Malaysia was keen to work with all other Asean countries in improving living standards and was willing to share its methods to sustain Malaysia’s development.
“However, we hope that we will be able to do this while ensuring the recovery of our economy, finances and the stability of our country,” he said, adding that Malaysia had gone through a change in government after 61 years.
Malaysia is faced with inherited problems and is now trying to resolve issues that affect the finance and administration machinery.
But the new government, he said, was committed to the programmes laid out by Asean.
Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Papua New Guinea has observer status.
Dr Mahathir returned to Kuala Lumpur last night.