From Muin Abdul Majid
NEW YORK, Sept 26 — In a frank observation, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that powerful and small countries alike are showing disrespect to the United Nations (UN).
“The problem is that we don’t respect the UN. Big countries, powerful countries just disregard the UN and the resolutions that they make,” the Malaysian prime minister said.
He noted that when the big countries disregarded the resolutions of the UN, small countries would follow suit, and now even small country such as Myanmar could thumb its nose at the world body.
“And because we’re helpless to do anything, what we’re seeing now is that resolutions made by the UN don’t seem to affect the thinking or policies of any country,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, who is in town for the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), said this when responding to questions from the floor at the World Leaders Forum at the Columbia University here on Wednesday.
On the Rohingya crisis, Dr Mahathir said there was a very clear weakness on the part of the UN in that when it saw a government being brutal towards its own people, nothing could be done.
“We can preach, we can pray, we can ask them please don’t do such things, but they can continue doing it because we don’t invade countries to remove such regimes,” the prime minister said.
He expressed disappointment in once democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi for not supporting those in dire straits in her country of Myanmar.
Dr Mahathir said when Aung San Suu Kyi was confined to her house, Malaysia sympathised with her and campaigned to get her released.
“But now we find that she’s not standing up for other people who are distressed,” he said, noting the sad truth that the world was really not in a position to help its inhabitants despite the talk of human rights and so on.
On China, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia wanted to remain friendly with the powerful country and would not unnecessarily annoy it.
“They claim that the whole South China Sea belongs to them, that is their claim. So long as they allow ships to pass through (the waterway) that’s okay,” he said.
“We can also claim that Australia belongs to us but Australia won’t care simply because it’s not going to happen,” he quipped.
The prime minister said the fact remained that South China Sea as well as the Strait of Melaka were vital for East-West trade, and that China itself would suffer if the waterways were closed.
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