For months, Mahathir Mohamad had been enjoying himself – bashing and condemning everyone and every country he didn’t like, as if the world revolves around him. He has slammed the U.S., Hong Kong, India, Israel, Singapore and even Myanmar. In the process, he has insulted the Hindus, Chinese, Jews, Americans and practically everyone who was non-Muslim.
Fortunately, he was not the President of the United States. It was also lucky that Malaysia was not America. If Malaysia were the military and economic superpower United States and its leader happened to be Mahathir, he could have had launched military strikes against any nation that refuses to “kowtow” to him – sending the world into oblivion.
We’re talking about the man who could not accept criticisms even from fellow Muslim brothers. When a Turkish author, Mustafa Akyol, criticised Mahathir over his remarks against the Jews during a talk in the United Kingdom, the Malaysian prime minister immediately slammed Mr. Mustafa. Mr. Mahathir said he has every right to express his opinion in the name of free speech.
But when his own “chief strategist” Rais Hussin told a forum that the present government was in serious danger of losing the election if polls were to be called, Mahathir went ballistic – threatened that any member of his own party PPBM (Bersatu) found making statements or announcements that could spoil the image of the party would be subjected to disciplinary action.
Mahathir’s hatred towards the Jews is legendary, so much so he made personal attacks when he described them as “hook-nosed”. Perhaps his advisors should advise him that US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are closed buddies. Mr. Trump is someone you don’t want to offend because he couldn’t care less about political correctness.
Despite criticisms from the Muslim world – even with threats of new terror attacks – Trump defiantly and stubbornly announced on December 2017 the United States recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and ordered the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something that past presidents had not dared do.
Mahathir had labelled Israel as a criminal state for terrorising Palestinians. He had condemned the Myanmar people for their treatment of the Rohingya Muslims. He had indirectly slammed China for suppressing, oppressing and repressing the Muslim Uighurs. He had anticipated applauses and cheers from Arab nations and the Muslim world, but he got none.
Clearly, the 94-year-old man missed very much his first stint as the country’s prime minister (from 1981 to 2003) where he was treated as the ultimate Muslim hero for speaking against the West. But today, all his former dictator buddies – Egyptian Hosni Mubarak, Libyan Muammar Gaddafi, Zimbabwean Robert Mugabe, and Indonesian Suharto – had either suffered a terrible death or lost power.
Besides using hate preacher Zakir Naik to condemn China for its mistreatment of Rohingya Muslims, Mahathir had poked his nose in the internal affairs of Hong Kong, saying its leader Carrie Lam should resign over the city’s increasingly violent pro-democracy protests. But the Hong Kong chief executive was a political appointee of Beijing so it was a criticism against China.
Hong Kong protesters are angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in their city’s affairs despite a promise of autonomy in the “one country, two systems” formula under which Hong Kong returned to China in 1997. To suggest that Carrie Lam should step down, Mahathir has not only interfered in China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, but also condemned Beijing’s internal policies.
On Monday (Oct 21), Mr. Mahathir, obviously panicked, told all and sundry that Malaysia could be hit with trade sanctions amid rising protectionism highlighted by the US-China trade war. “Economically, we are linked to both markets, and physically we are also caught in between for geographical reasons. There are even suggestions that we ourselves would be a target for sanctions,” – said the premier.
Interestingly, Malaysia was placed on the U.S. Treasury watch list for currency manipulation in May for its bilateral trade and current-account surplus. Of course, the central bank – Bank Negara – has denied the nation manipulates its currency and said it supports free and fair trade. However, it’s true that Mahathir was responsible for foreign exchange losses suffered by Bank Negara in the 1990s.
Together with then finance minister Anwar Ibrahim and ex-Bank Negara advisor Nor Mohamed Yakcop, as well as Daim Zainuddin (finance minister from July 1984 to March 1991), Mahathir administration had intervened and involved in speculation of currency trading from 1992 to 1994. As a result, the country had lost at least RM31.5 billion when their gambling stunt backfired.
Fortunately, being labelled a currency manipulator doesn’t come with immediate penalties, even though it can rattle financial markets. But Malaysia’s trade surplus of US$26.5 billion last year with the U.S could land the country in trouble, if Trump administration decides to slap Malaysia with sanctions. To be fair, the U.S. has also added Singapore and Vietnam to the list.
Mahathir will definitely know if his anti-Semitic is the reason the U.S. punishes his exports-reliant country with trade sanctions. Trump should fairly slap Singapore and Vietnam with sanctions too, without which is clear indication that Malaysia is being targeted solely due to the prime minister’s toxic mouth on the world stage.
Singapore, China and the United States were top three biggest export destinations for Malaysia between January and August this year. India, on the other hand, was the country’s 7th biggest trading partner in 2018. Hong Kong, surprisingly, was Malaysia’s 4th top trading partner last year. Amazingly, Mahathir has offended all those countries, one way or another.
India – one of the biggest importers of Malaysian palm oil – was toying with the idea of imposing trade restrictions on the Southeast Asian nation. Modi government wants to send a strong signal of its displeasure to Malaysian government over its interference in the internal affairs of India, after Mahathir accused New Delhi of having “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir.
New Delhi was also not impressed when Mahathir stubbornly and arrogantly chooses to protect and harbour Zakir Naik, a controversial Indian Islamic preacher wanted by the Indian government for spreading hate speech, laundering money, and funding terrorism. The drama of Mahathir, whose Indian ancestry is a public knowledge, looking down on India didn’t end there.
PM Mahathir’s insult of India’s democracy and judicial system has obviously rubbed the 1.32-billion population nation the wrong way. Despite boastfully telling the world that his newly installed government was committed to the rule of law, the 94-year-old premier arrogantly said he would not deport the radical and extreme preacher – even if India asked for it.
Hence, it was absolutely hilarious when Mahathir also complained of being bullied by powerful nations, referring to a campaign by European countries against Malaysia’s palm oil. It appears that he wants the privilege to bully everyone, but would cry, whine and bitch when he is at the receiving end. A trade war with India together with trade sanctions from the U.S. (and probably China) will send the country into financial meltdown.
His latest complaint, however, was cleverly designed as a pre-emptive warning that he is not to blame if indeed India eventually boycotts Malaysian palm oil and other products. It is also not his fault if the U.S. decides to specifically target the country with trade sanctions. And it is certainly not his leadership problem if the country plunges into another financial crisis due to boycotts and sanctions.
Source : Finance Twitter