Mahathir told an airport press conference:
"Initially I was asked to make a keynote address. But since I think many top leaders were expected to come including (President Bill) Clinton they changed the program, which made me a member of a panel along with his excellency (George) Soros.
"I was of the opinion that as a member of a panel I would not be able to speak much, only to answer questions for two to three minutes.
"So I felt there was no gain and it seems that they do not want to hear our opinion – but only the opinions of developed countries."
The question Malaysians want to know is whether their Prime Minister had been snubbed by the WEF organisers in Davos, and if so, the Malaysian government should lodge a formal protest against the WEF to uphold national honour and dignity and Parliament when it reconvenes on February 14, 2000 should adopt a motion to censure the WEF organisers to protest against such a snub on the country’s Prime Minister!
Looking at the programme of the WEF Annual Meeting 2000 in Davos, Switzerland 27 January - 1 February 2000, I have still to be convinced that the Malaysian Prime Minister was snubbed by the WEF organisers.
Mahathir was slated in the prestigious traditional opening plenary debate "It’s Not The Economy, It’s The Society" on 28th January 2000 focussing on the outlook for the world economy under the WEF Annual Meeting 2000 theme of "New Beginnings: Making a Difference", which would be telecast live as well as webcast on the Internet.
Others slated to appear in this debate with Mahathir were Saxony’s minister president, Kurt Biedenkop, Renault CEO Louis Schweitzer and financier George Soros, with Ronnie Chan, Chairman of Hang Lung Development Company, Hong Kong SAR as the chairman.
This is how the WEF outlined the themes and issues expected to
be dealt with by this prestigious traditional opening plenary debate:
"Bill Clinton famously concentrated his successful 1992 election campaign around the mantra, ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ For the voters, his team believed, all that mattered was improvement in the economy. On the morning of Friday 28 January, a different perspective will be debated at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum.
"Economic pressures and demands certainly cannot be discounted. The pressures of globalisation, of demands for increased returns on investments, of flexibility, are increasingly forcing people to live purely according to economic prerequisites and criteria. But if the market economy has won the battle, the challenge for leaders is to ensure that society is more than just the market. In fact, people want to live in a market economy, but not everyone desires a market society.
"Malaysian prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamed, Saxony’s minister president, Kurt Biedenkop, Renaut CEO Louis Schweitzer and financier and philanthropist George Soros will lead the discussion, under the chairmanship of Ronnie Chan, Chairman of Hang Lung Development Company, Hong Kong SAR.
"Traditionally, the opening plenary on Friday in Davos concentrates on the outlook for the world economy. Part of the ‘New Beginnings: Making a Difference’ theme of the Annual Meeting 2000 is the shift in outlook that ‘It’s not the economy, it’s the society’ may bring to participants at the Annual Meeting."
Mahathir said "he would not be able to speak much, only to answer questions for two to three minutes".
According the WEF website information, Mahathir’s opening plenary was slated to be held for 70 minutes from 8.20 to 9.30 a.m. on 28th February 2000, which meant everyone of the five speakers would have at least 12 to 13 minutes - a far cry from "two to three minutes".
Mahathir was also slotted in another plenary session (which unlike other "interactive sessions" are on the record and transmitted live in the press conference room, and on all the TV monitors throughout the Congress Centre and hotels in Davos), namely:
"The global peace imperative: preventing major conflict in this century": -
The scheduled panellists of this plenary session were:
This should give Mahahtir another 10 - 12 minutes, making a total of some 25 minutes.
According to the WEF website information, US President Bill Clinton gave a "special message" to the conference on Saturday, 29th January 2000 lasting about 25 minutes at the entire WEF Annual Meeting.
Other national leaders who were given from 20 to 30 minutes to give special messages were British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, King Abdullah II Ibn Hussein or Jordan, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mikhail M. Kasyanov and South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Was the Malaysian Prime Minister snubbed in WEF in Davos and were the voice of the developing countries silenced in the Swiss Alpine village?
Apart from the complete absence of an official representation from Malaysia, Asia and the ASEAN countries were strongly represented with strong delegations from China, Japan, South Korea and India. ASEAN nations were represented by Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Supachai Panitchpakdi, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry George Yeo and Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines Rafael Buenaventura.
All MPs should be given all available information for them to decide whether the Malaysian Prime Minister had been snubbed in Davos, and I have no doubt that if there had been such a snub, MPs regardless of party affiliation, whether Barisan Nasional or Barisan Alternative would take a common stand to censure the WEF organisers to redeem Malaysian national honour and dignity.
In any event, Mahathir owes an explanation to Malaysians as to why the
Malaysian government is the only government which wants to be a major
player in the global marketplace as well as an IT power which did not send
any representative to the WEF in Davos, regarded as the world's top networking
and brainstorming session which was participated by over 30 national
leaders and some 2,000 movers and shakers on the globe with
the technological revolution and globalisation high on the Davos agenda.