Mahathirís foreign rhetoric is undermining Daimís budget to attract foreign investments and the best brains in the world

Media statement
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The Prime Ministerís speech to Muslim intellectuals and scholars  at the Diplomatic Club at Doha, Qatar yesterday is the latest example of  his foreign rhetoric undermining the policy of the Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin as spelt out in the 2001 Budget  to attract foreign investments and the best brains in the world.

There is nothing wrong in Mahathir warning that the Muslim nations stood to lose if they insisted on remaining spectators of the globalisation process, but it is a different kettle of fish in advocating the role to be a "virus" to paralyse the international financial system.

Stressing  that "globalisation could be made to work for the Muslim  community provided that it was properly understood", Mahathir said:

Is this Mahathirís vision of the role that Malaysia and other nations he could influence should play in the Information Age - to be a virus to paralyse the global system?

This is not the first time that Mahathir had spoken in foreign lands advocating a form of world revolution.

Early last year, Mahathir went to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and said that governments which "harbour currency traders and claim that they cannot control" them should resign or be removed - which embrace all Western governments and in fact almost all governments in the world, except Malaysia and those with capital controls.

Whether Mahathir or Malaysia has the capability to instigate a world revolution or be a virus to paralyse the international financial system is a separate matter, but Malaysians are entitled to ask Mahathir whether the Barisan Nasional government is serious about attracting foreign investment and the best brains "from Bangalore to California" when his foreign xenophobic rhetorics can only have a counter-productive effect.

In fact a day after Daimís 2001 Budget was presented in Parliament purportedly seeking to woo foreign investments and the best brains in the world to ensure the success of Malaysiaís IT ambition, the next day Mahathir  continued with his foreign diatribe when he spoke at the Asia Society in Hong Kong.  It is no coincidence that with such contradictory signals, the market reactions to the budget had been mostly negative in the two weeks after the budget as reflected by a plunging stock market in Kuala Lumpur.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman