Speech by Prime
Minister The Honorable Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Opening
Session of the XIII Summit Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement at Putra
World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur on Monday, February 24 2003
Date:24 February 2003
On behalf of the Government
and People of Malaysia, may I extend a very warm welcome to all of you to
Kuala Lumpur to this XIII Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.
2. It is indeed a great
honour for Malaysia to host this Summit Meeting and to assume the
chairmanship of the Movement.
3. As the host, Malaysia is gratified at the high level of participation
in spite of the uncertainties of the international situation today. This
clearly demonstrates our continued and abiding faith in, and commitment to
our Movement and our collective wish and determination to strengthen our
unity and cohesion.
4. I take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to the Republic of
South Africa, in particular His Excellency President Thabo M'beki, for his
and his country's outstanding stewardship of our Movement for the past
four years a little longer than they had bargained for when they assumed
the Chairmanship at our Summit Meeting in Durban. We congratulate them for
the admirable way the Republic of South Africa has held high the banner of
NAM despite cynicism about its relevance.
5. We are also gratified that under South Africa's leadership our Movement
has intensified the serious and critical examination of our organisation
and has initiated some important steps towards its revitalisation a
process which Malaysia will pursue with the help and cooperation of the
members of NAM.
6. This Summit Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the first to be held in the new
century, indeed the new millennium, is taking place at a most crucial
time. The world now lives in fear. We are afraid of everything. We are
afraid of flying, afraid of certain countries; afraid of bearded Asian
men, afraid of the shoes airline passengers wear; of letters and parcels,
of white powder. The countries allegedly harbouring terrorists, their
people, innocent or otherwise are afraid too. They are afraid of war, of
being killed and maimed by bombs being dropped on them, by missiles fired
from hundreds of miles away by unseen forces. They are afraid because they
would become the collaterals to be killed because they get in the way of
the destruction of their countries.
7. The preparations and the measures taken to ensure security go on
frantically. Trillions of dollars are spent by the world for new weapons,
new technology, new strategy; the deployment of forces and inspectors
worldwide. Those who cannot afford these security measures must simply
await their fate and trust in God. Yet despite all these, terrorist
attacks have taken place where they are least expected, killing the
collaterals again. There is still no guarantee that the well dressed,
clean shaven family man next door might not become another hijacker,
crashing his aircraft into buildings and killing collaterals.
8. In the meantime the economy of the world has slowed down and in some
instances has been reversed, with huge deficits burdening countries. Jobs
are lost and poverty is increasing even in the rich countries. No new
investments in foreign countries or at home. With the threat of war oil
prices have shot up, increasing further the economic and social burdens of
the poor countries.
9. Aid for the poor has practically stopped and loans are not available as
the poor countries defaulted and defaulted again.
10. Truly the world is in a terrible mess, a state that is worse than
during the East West confrontation, the Cold War. All the great hopes
following the end of the Cold War have vanished. And with the terrorists
and the anti terrorists fumbling blindly in their fight against each
other, normalcy will not return for quite a long while.
11. Surely at some stage we must ask ourselves why this is happening to
the world. Why is there terrorism? Is it true that the Muslims are born
terrorists because of the teachings of a prophet who was a terrorist? How
do we explain the pogroms, the inquisitions and the holocaust which
characterised Christian Europe for almost 2000 years? Why did the Jews
choose to seek haven in Muslim countries whenever Christian Europeans
persecute them? Do people seek safety in the land of terrorists? Does not
sound very likely.
12. The Christians too were terrorised, not by Muslims but by fellow
Christians who condemned them as heretics. They were persecuted, tortured,
burnt at the stakes for their beliefs and forced to migrate. Seems that,
the Muslims did not have a monopoly of terrorism, certainly not on the
scale of the holocaust, the pogroms and the inquisition.
13. So it cannot be that Muslims are the sole cause of all these problems.
If they are not then is it a clash of civilisation, a clash of the Muslim
civilisation against the Judea Christian civilisation, that is
14. Frankly I do not think so. Frankly I think it is because of a revival
of the old European trait of wanting to dominate the world. And the
expression of this trait invariably involves injustice and oppression of
people of other ethnic origins and colours.
15. If we care to think back, there was no systematic campaign of terror
outside Europe until the Europeans and the Jews created a Jewish state out
of Palestinian land. Incidentally terrorism was first used by the Haganah
and the Irgun Zvai Leumi to persuade the British to set up Israel. The
Palestinians were actually ejected from their homes and their country and
forced to live in miserable refugee camps for more than 50 years now.
16. It is the struggle of the Palestinians to regain their land that has
precipitated, first conventional wars, then civil protest and eventually
violent demonstrations. The Israelis demanded European support to atone
for European crimes against them in the past. In desperation the
Palestinians finally resorted to what is described as acts of terror.
Rightly, this is condemned by the world. But the world does not condemn as
acts of terror the more terrifying acts of the Israelis; the massacres in
Sabra and Shatila, the shooting and killing of children, the use of
depleted uranium coated bullets, the bulldozing of Palestinian homes while
the occupants are still in them, the helicopter gunships etc. And Israel
is now threatening to use nuclear weapons.
17. This blatant double standards is what infuriates Muslims, infuriates
them to the extent of launching their own terror attacks. If Iraq is
linked to the Al Qaeda, is it not more logical to link the expropriation
of Palestinian land and the persecution and oppression of the Palestinians
with September 11? It is not religious differences which angered the
attackers of the World Trade Centre. It is simply sympathy and anger over
the expropriation of Palestinian land, over the injustice and the
oppression of the Palestinians, and Muslims everywhere. If the innocent
people who died in the attack on Afghanistan, and those who have been
dying from lack of food and medical care in Iraq, are considered
collaterals, are not the 3,000 who died in New York and the 200 in Bali
also just collaterals whose deaths are necessary for the operations to
18. Actually the life of any human being is sacred, no matter if the
person is a friend or an enemy. That is why war is not a solution. A
contest based on who can kill more people in order to establish who is the
Victor and who the loser, worst still in order to determine who is right
and who is wrong is primitive and does not speak well of the so called
high level of civilisation we have achieved. The greatness of a nation
should be based on a culture that values high moral qualities, aesthetics,
learning and advancements in the sciences. Unfortunately thousands of
years after the stone age we still measure the greatness of a nation by
the capacity to slaughter the greatest number of people.
19. But the oppression and injustice is not confined to waging war and
killing people; there is oppression in ideological propagation. We are now
allowed only a democratic system of Government. We admit it is by far the
best system of Governments. But applying sanctions, starving people,
denying access to medicine in order to force the acceptance of democracy
hardly seem to be democratic. Actually millions have died because they
have not converted to this new religion. And millions more are suffering
because they are unable to make democracy work, because of the resulting
20. Relieved of the need to compete with the Communists, the capitalist
free traders have ceased to show a friendly face. Their greed knows no
bounds. They want countries which had fought hard to gain independence, to
give up that independence, to do away with their borders, to allow the
capitalists free access to do what they like to the economies of these
countries. They call this free competition. As they merge and acquire each
other, they become monstrous giants against whom the small businesses in
the developing countries will not be able to compete. What is the meaning
of competition if you cannot win at all. In the end a few of these
monsters will control the economy of the whole world.
21. The sad thing is that they are not above cheating and corruption. And
we know they can fail. We have seen how spectacularly they fail losing 100
billion dollars in one year. And that is only one corporation.
22. Then there are the rogue currency traders who destroyed the economies
of half the world, threw tens of millions out of work, bankrupted banks
and thousands of businesses, cause the collapse of Governments and
precipitated anarchy; all so that half a dozen individuals can make
billions for themselves.
23. Now the rich give no more aid. They do not lend either. And all the
time the international agencies they control try to strangle the debt
laden poor countries which had been attacked by their greedy market
24. The disparities between rich and poor widen daily. The rich have per
capita incomes of more than 30,000 US Dollars, the poor only 300 US
Dollars. Still the rich want to squeeze out literally the last drop of
blood from the poor.
25. It is this which plague the word today, this oppression of the poor by
the rich; this injustice, this inequality. To nib salt into the wound the
poor are always being told that they lack transparency and good
governance, they don't respect human rights, they don't uphold freedom of
speech, freedom of the press and so on and so forth, when in fact it is
the rich who lack transparency, who do not respect human rights, who curb
our rights to speak the truth about what they are doing, who use their
media to hide their misdeeds and spread lies. How else can we interpret
the operations of the hedge funds and the currency traders, sanctions and
the systematic bombings of certain countries, the impoverishment of the
already poor, and the censorship of news as well as distorted and
fabricated reports about the south.
26. The fact is that the poor countries have been and are being oppressed
and terrorised by the rich countries. Naturally the poor are bitter and
angry and have lost faith in justice and honour. And the last straw which
caused them to resort to futile and destructive terror attacks is the
blatant support for state terrorism as practised by Israel and others. If
Israeli terrorism is a response to Palestinian terrorism, then Palestinian
terrorism, and terror acts by their sympathisers must be due to the
expulsion of Palestinians from their land, the further occupation of
Palestinian territory and the open support for Israeli intransigence and
terrorism by the Europeans. But the developing countries must admit that
we are also responsible for the mess the world is in today. We have not
used our independence and freedom to develop our countries for the good of
our people. Instead we have been busy overthrowing our Governments,
setting up new Governments which in turn would be overthrown. We have even
killed our own people by the millions. And frequently, frustrated with
anarchic democracy we resort to autocratic Governments, exposing ourselves
to much vilification.
27. The result of this confrontation between the haves and the have nots,
the developed and the developing is a word that is practically
ungovernable. Despite all the advances in science and technology, the
world is in a terrible state. With more than enough food to feed the six
billion people of the world, fully one in six is actually underfed,
starving, with hundreds dying daily.
28. Since Sept 11, the rich and the powerful have become enraged with the
poor half of the world. And their extreme measures to ensure security for
themselves have only amplified the anger of the oppressed poor. Both sides
are now in a state of blind anger and are bent on killing each other, on
29. War solves nothing. War is primitive. Today's war is more primitive
than stone age wars. The targets are not the fighters, the combatants. The
target is the ordinary civilians, the women, children and old people.
Whether it is terror attacks or military action, these are the victims.
30. In primitive wars the carnage is witnessed by the warriors. While the
suicidal terrorists die with each attack, the great warriors who press the
buttons see nothing of the mangled bodies, the heads and limbs which are
torn from disemboweled bodies, the blood and the gore of the innocent
people who an instant before were living people like them. And because
they don't see, the button pressing warriors and the people who commanded
them go back to enjoy a hearty meal, watch TV shows or moral boosting
troop entertainers and then retire to their cosy beds for a good sleep.
Tomorrow they would make more sorties, to carpet bomb more children, women
and old people or they would press more buttons to send missiles to tear
off more heads and limbs.
31. War is about slaughtering people. Newer and more brutal weapons are
being invented to kill more people more efficiently. And now there is talk
that the use of nuclear weapons is justified. Is it because the people to
be slaughtered are chromatically different? Is it because they cannot hit
32. Our meeting here today is a meeting of Heads of States and Heads of
Governments. We must admit that our organisation has not been as effective
as it should be. We may want to remain uninvolved and to avoid incurring
the displeasure of the powerful countries. But our people are getting
restless. They want us to do something. If we don't then they will, and
they will go against us. They will take things into their own hands.
Unable to mount a conventional war they will resort to guerrilla war, to
terrorism, against us and against those they consider to be their
33. They cannot be ignored any longer. We cannot incarcerate them all for
we do not always know who they are or where they are.
34. Sept 11, has demonstrated to the world that acts of terror even by a
dozen people can destabilise the whole world completely, put fear into the
hearts of everyone, make them afraid of their own shadows.
35. But their acts have also removed all the restraint in the countries of
the north. They now no longer respect borders, international laws or even
simple moral values. And they are now talking of wars, of the use of
military conquests in order to change Governments. They are even talking
of using nuclear weapons.
36. It is no longer just a war against terrorism. It is in fact a war to
dominate the world i.e. the chromatically different world. We are now
being accused of harbouring terrorists, of being Axis of Evil, etc. NAM
has a lot of problems and issues which it must tackle. But at the moment
the most important threat that we face is the tendency of the powerful to
wage war when faced with opposition to the spread of their dominance. We
cannot fight a war with them.
37. Fortunately many of their people are also sick of war. They have come
out in their millions to protest the warlike policies of their leaders. We
must join them. We must join their struggle with all the moral force that
we can command.
38. War must be outlawed. That will have to be our struggle for now. We
must struggle for justice and freedom from oppression, from economic
hegemony. But we must remove the threat of war first. With this Sword of
Democles hanging over our heads we can never succeed in advancing the
interests of our countries.
39. War must therefore be made illegal. The enforcement of this must be by
multilateral forces under the control of the United Nations. No single
nation should be allowed to police the world, least of all to decide what
action to take, when.
40. Globalisation must not be confined to the exploitation of the wealth
of the earth only. Globalisation must include the multilateral protection
of countries threatened by war or hegemony.
41. There must be a new world order in which power is shared equitably by
all. The United Nations must be reformed. It must no longer be bound by
the results of a world war fought more than half a century ago. Everyone
must disarm. Weapons of mass destruction must be disallowed for all. And
there should be no more research into making conventional weapons more
42. If it is right for an international agency in a globalised world to
oversee human rights, business practices and the kind of democracy
practised by countries, then a truly International Agency beholden only to
the United Nations General Assembly should oversee the military budget of
all countries, big and small. Trading in arms must come under United
Nations supervision. Brutal ethnic cleansing must be stopped by a
multinational standing army.
43. When Japan was defeated, it was allowed to spend only one percent of
its GDP on its armed forces. If such a condition can be imposed on Japan,
why cannot it be imposed on all countries?
44. In the struggle to outlaw war and control arms, nuclear as well as
conventional, NAM will find growing support from among many people in the
North. It is a daunting task nevertheless. But unless we take the moral
high ground now, we will wait in vain for the powerful North to
voluntarily give up slaughtering people in the name of national interest.
45. Again I would like to say that NAM must struggle to outlaw war. NAM
must struggle to outlaw nuclear weapons. NAM must struggle to stop the
research and development of more and more lethal so called conventional
weapons. NAM must struggle to control the arms trade.
46. We must work for a new world order, where democracy is not confined to
the internal governance of states only but to the governance of the world.
We must work for the revival of the United Nations and multilateralism. We
must work to do away or modify the powers of the victors of a war fought
half a century ago.
47. We know we are weak. But we also know we have allies in the North.
They too want the abolition of wars, the slaughter of people for whatever
reason. They may not agree with us in everything. But in the opposition to
war very many will be with us. They are ready to oppose their warlike
leaders. We must work with them.
48. This then is our struggle. We are not irrelevant. We are not
anachronistic. We have a vision, the vision to build a new world order, a
world order that is more equitable, more just; a world order which is
above all free from the age old belief that killing people is right, that
it can solve the problems of relations between nations.
49. For all these we must revitalise the Non Aligned Movement. And that
vitality can only come from our closing ranks and acting together.
50. I thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak before this august
assembly. Malaysia pledges to work vigorously to oppose war including the
war against Iraq and to ensure the success of this our Movement.
Prime Minister's Office