Executive Intelligence Review


Mahathir Sworn In as Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Praises China’s Belt and Road

May 10, 2018 (EIRNS)—Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, 92, has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia, following the stunning and overwhelming victory by the opposition coalition he put together to challenge his former UMNO party and his former protégé Najib Razak, who has been exposed as extremely corrupt. Mahathir’s press conference this morning focused on China, since he had campaigned in part against the high borrowing costs of some of the projects China has undertaken in Malaysia as part of the Belt and Road. But he made clear that he fully supports the Belt and Road, and will work closely with China, while also wanting to review some of the contracts.

A transcript of his answer to the first question to him, on China and the Belt and Road:

“We need to study all the things done by the previous government, not only about China—a lot of things inside the country. China has a long experience dealing with unequal treaties [under the British], and China renegotiated them. So if necessary we will renegotiate the terms. But what amount of money was borrowed by the government? RM55 billion [$14 billion] for the East-West railroad, and lots of other things which will be a great burden on the government. The government must try to reduce borrowing, otherwise we will be in bad shape.

“As far as the Belt and Road problem. We have no problem with that. Except we don’t want to see warships in the region, because warships attract other warships, and things will become tense. In the past we had a nuclear free zone, so we would not like to have potential warfare in this country.

“But we support the Belt and Road program. In fact, I myself wrote to Xi Jinping on the need of a land connection with Europe using trains, which are faster than ships. When the demand for oil grew, ships were built bigger and bigger, reaching a half-million tons, but trains have remained small, not long enough. So I suggested to Xi Jinping in a personal letter that we need big trains, and China has the technology to build big trains, to take goods to Europe, and also to make Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and so on—to be more accessible, to transfer their goods, their raw materials, to China, to Japan, and to Southeast Asia.

“That is our policy.”