|Return of the strongman, Mahathir Mohamed. Photo: EPA|
MALAYSIA’S MAHATHIR: GOOD NEWS FOR CHINA, NOT SO MUCH FOR THE US
Economic plan, check; action plan on Najib Razak, check; making nice with coalition parties, check. Foreign policy ... hmm
BY BHAVAN JAIPRAGASCOCO LIU
20 MAY 2018
It’s been a week since Mahathir Mohamad took office as Prime Minister of Malaysia, for the second time. And the 92-year-old has already moved with the aplomb expected of an ex-strongman – he ruled Malaysia with an iron fist from 1981 to 2003 – to assert control over all levers of government. On the economic front, his one-time right hand man Daim Zainuddin, 80, is helming a “Council of Eminent Persons”, which just days after being appointed last week, has come up with a plan to scrap the unpopular goods and services tax (GST) by June 1 – a top campaign pledge of the victorious Pakatan Harapan alliance … for more, go to http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2146850/malaysias-mahathir-good-news-china-not-so-much-us
So, The Star, what was all the fuss about China and Dr M?
KUALA LUMPUR (May 2018): So, what was all the fuss about?
The Star had on May 17 published a report titled Embassy of China hopes to meet Dr M soon to promote cooperation.
In the report was this paragraph: It is believed that the Embassy of China had sent a request for a meeting with Dr Mahathir, but there is no news up to now. (Read this for context: https://ilovemalaysiachinasilkroad.blogspot.my/2018/05/the-star-thinks-dr-ms-ph-government.html - The Star thinks Dr M’s PH government will cancel China’s projects in Malaysia)
The Star had, thus, implied in the report that Prime Minister (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamed (Dr M) did not want to meet or is hesitating to meet China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian.
At that time, Dr M had not even set up his Cabinet after leading his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition to a historic electoral victory that saw the end of Alliance-Barisan Nasional (BN)’s six-decade rule of Malaysia on the May 9 14th General Election (GE14).
On May 24, Bai made a courtesy call on Dr M and said: “Bilateral relations will further improve with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's second stint as premier.
“We appreciate that you openly reiterated your support for the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) and welcomed Chinese investment shortly after assuming office.
"China always regards Malaysia as an important partner for the 21st century maritime silk road and is ready to promote the Belt and Road initiative together with Malaysia, striving for the common prosperity and development of the two countries and the building of an Asian Community of Common Destiny.”
So, to the MCA (a Chinese political party, now in the Opposition)-owned The Star, what other doubts do you have about Malaysia-China’s relations?
Here’s what The Star Online posted on Bai’s courtesy call on Dr M:
"Envoy: China-Malaysia ties to further improve under Dr M
Thursday, 24 May 2018
8:29 PM MYT
He called on the Prime Minister at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here on Thursday, and said that Dr Mahathir is a well-respected, long-term friend of the Chinese people.
In a statement on Thursday (May 24), he said Dr Mahathir had previously laid a solid foundation for China-Malaysia relations, including initiating the China-Asean cooperation.
He said China is looking forward to working with the new Malaysian Government to advance cooperation in a spirit of equality, mutual trust and mutual benefit.
"We appreciate that you openly reiterated your support for the Belt and Road initiative and welcomed Chinese investment shortly after assuming office.
"China always regards Malaysia as an important partner for the 21st century maritime silk road and is ready to promote the Belt and Road initiative together with Malaysia, striving for the common prosperity and development of the two countries and the building of an Asian Community of Common Destiny," he said.
He said both countries are standing at a historical juncture, blessed with huge potential and bright prospects.
"Both countries shall work together for common development and prosperity," he said.
This is also the inherent essence of President Xi Jinping's idea of building a community of shared future for mankind, which echoes well with the Asian values Dr Mahathir has consistently promoted.
Dr Mahathir said China has always been a close friend and important partner of Malaysia.
"The new government of Malaysia will further enhance the all-round cooperation with China especially in political, economic and trade fields," he said.
He said in recent years, China has achieved phenomenal success in economic development, infrastructure building including rail systems, technological advancement in areas like agriculture production.
"Malaysia can learn from China and share the good practices and experiences of economic and technological development. There are many things to do together between the two countries.
"Malaysia welcomes Chinese investment and expects further growth of bilateral pragmatic cooperation," he said.
Bai also invited Dr Mahathir to visit China, and the Prime Minister pointed out it had been quite some time since his last trip there and was looking forward to visiting the country again."
|Many experts believe Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will refrain from drastically changing relations with China. © Reuters|
KUALA LUMPUR -- Since Mahathir Mohamad won Wednesday's Malaysian general election, the world has been trying to predict the consequences of the unprecedented change in power. As the new Prime Minister gets down to work with the new government, relations with China are one of the topics in the spotlight. Mahathir's predecessor, former Prime Minister Najib Razak, clearly leaned toward China during his term of office, which many admit supported the economy to a certain extent. In contrast, Mahathir strongly criticized some of the country's Chinese-backed infrastructure projects during the campaign for not benefiting local people. He promised to review them in the manifesto of his then-opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope. Among the projects mentioned in the past for review is the East Coast Rail Link, Malaysia's largest single railway project, connecting Kuala Lumpur to the Thai border via Kuantan on the east coast. Mahathir has also criticized the Forest City, a development project near the Singapore border. "We are entitled to study [the terms of the projects] and if necessary, we will renegotiate the terms," Mahathir said in a news conference on Thursday. He pointed out that China itself in the past had "a long experience of dealing with unequal treaties," and had solved the issues by renegotiation. To back up his argument, Mahathir said he was concerned about the public debt that the government has taken on in exchange for projects that in theory stimulate the economy. The East Coast Railway alone is said to account for 55 billion ringgit ($13.7 billion) worth of debt … for more, go to https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Malaysia-in-transition/Mahathir-strives-for-balance-on-ties-with-China
|In this 2001 photo, China's then-President Jiang Zemin, left, greets Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before the start of the APEC summit in Shanghai. © Reuters|