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  • I'm here in Bangkok on the sidelines of the Asean Summit.

  • And I've just finished speaking to Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's

  • prime minister.

  • We talked about his change in stance on China,

  • as well as the succession saga in Malaysia.

  • But we started off talking about Jho Low, the fugitive financier

  • who allegedly is at the heart of the multi-billion dollar

  • embezzlement scandal involving 1MDB.

  • The US Department of Justice has reached a settlement

  • with Jho Low.

  • Did this deal come as a surprise to you?

  • Well, the amount is much bigger.

  • If he had said the full amount we would be very happy indeed.

  • But this is really a part of the money

  • that was made use by Jho Low to buy properties, et cetera.

  • So we are still going after the rest

  • of the money that has been made use of by Jho Low.

  • In light of this settlement, is Malaysia also

  • negotiating with him directly?

  • No, we have no contact with him.

  • We don't even know where he is.

  • Malaysia has said repeatedly that it

  • would like Goldman Sachs, which has arranged

  • 1MDB bonds, the proceeds of which allegedly

  • were used to then obviously be part

  • of the embezzlement of 1MDB.

  • And Malaysia has always said that Goldman should return

  • $7.5bn.

  • Is that a realistic sum in your view?

  • The amount is not beyond what their role is worth.

  • Goldman Sachs has offered less than $2bn.

  • Less than $2bn.

  • So we are not satisfied with that amount.

  • Do you have a sum in mind of an alternative?

  • No, I'm not supposed to say that.

  • The DoJ alleges that also other international banks

  • were apparently involved in helping, unknowingly.

  • Are there concrete plans of going after these banks

  • as well?

  • Where we can prove that it is our money,

  • we would make requests for the banks to freeze the account.

  • Can you give us some names?

  • I think the Deutsche Bank was mentioned, and UBS.

  • You have said in the past that freedom is not absolute.

  • And now we are seeing the rise of populism

  • in many western countries.

  • Is this a sign that western democracies are doomed?

  • Western democracy, I think, you have taken things too far.

  • There must be limits and you must recognise the limit.

  • And accept that as part of the democratic process.

  • There seems to be a retreat from the US

  • under the current Trump administration from the region.

  • What does this mean to you as a southeast Asian country,

  • also in light of the potential of China's rise

  • and China filling this gap?

  • For Malaysia, the current trade war between China and US

  • has resulted in lots of people who invested in China wanting

  • to move away from China.

  • And Malaysia is one of the destinations.

  • In terms of your relationship with Beijing,

  • it seems like there's been quite a reversal

  • since the very beginning of your latest term as prime minister.

  • It seems to be quite a 180.

  • Why did this occur?

  • Well, I was reminding not only China,

  • but other countries that there is such

  • a thing as new colonialism.

  • We should avoid this idea that you can colonise

  • through economic power.

  • So that was what I was saying, and it's not

  • directed at China alone.

  • In the China context of things, when you first

  • came back to power you mentioned that, for example,

  • some of the infrastructure projects

  • symbolised unequal treaties between China and Malaysia.

  • And obviously if one does believe

  • in the national security threats that the US, for instance,

  • outlined with Huawei, I mean, are those two risks not

  • a potential form of colonialism?

  • We are not worried about the Chinese.

  • We have been very friendly with the Chinese,

  • even during the first time I was prime minister.

  • But the previous government entered into agreements

  • to consult this railway line, which is not really

  • necessity at the moment.

  • In the future, maybe.

  • But the cost was horrendous.

  • It comes to about 60bn Malaysian ringgit.

  • We cannot afford that.

  • So, if possible we thought it was simply

  • just dropping the project.

  • But we found that we are obliged under contract

  • that if we unilaterally drop a project

  • we have to pay compensation.

  • And the composition amount is huge.

  • Speaking of your relationship with them,

  • I wanted to talk to you a little bit about Khazanah

  • Nasional, the sovereign wealth fund of which you are chairman.

  • Now earlier this year there was the announcement

  • that the founder of Chinese tech firm SenseTime

  • and a senior executive of Tencent

  • joined the Khazanah board.

  • Why did Malaysia decide to include these two

  • Chinese executives?

  • Well, these people are obviously very smart.

  • They have been able to manage their companies well

  • and we thought that the injection

  • of their ideas into Khazanah would be very useful,

  • especially as we had to deal a lot

  • with Chinese foreign investment.

  • Would it also potentially help Malaysia

  • to sell the around $33bn worth of assets

  • that Khazanah has potentially to Chinese investors?

  • We have no plans to sell to foreign companies.

  • As far as possible, we would like to sell to the locals.

  • But, of course, if we need the money and we

  • need the money to repay loans and all that.

  • We will consider the necessity for disposing of certain assets

  • to foreigners.

  • What do you think about some of the Asian leaders,

  • such as Indonesian President Joko Widodo or Pakistani leader

  • Imran Khan, in terms of their relatively weak responses

  • and stances versus how China is dealing with and treating

  • Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and what is your stance on that?

  • Well, our people have been there.

  • They are - perhaps they were not shown the whole thing,

  • but any - what they saw did not show that the Chinese were very

  • badly ill-treating treating the Uighurs.

  • But we are aware of the Uighurs' desire not to be part of China.

  • Turkey, which is a strong partner for Malaysia in terms

  • of the economy and defence, has come out and given a stance

  • with regards to the Chinese treatment of Uighurs saying

  • that it is a shame on humanity.

  • And you, yourself, have spoken up in defence of Muslims across

  • the world.

  • So do you have anything more to say about what

  • is happening in Xinjiang?

  • We would like to know more about what's happening

  • before we make our stand.

  • But with Turkey, of course, these are Turkic people

  • - the Uighurs are Turks.

  • But also Muslims.

  • Yes, they are Muslims, but everywhere else Muslims

  • are oppressed.

  • In Europe, in America.

  • There are oppressed.

  • This is something that is almost the norm at this moment.

  • The United Nations has said and confirmed that...

  • they claim that about 1m Uighurs are now

  • kept in what they have described as internment camps.

  • This, obviously, is an extremely problematic situation

  • and one that has been well documented also by the UN.

  • So do you think that this is enough information for you

  • to take a stance as, obviously, a leader of a Muslim majority

  • nation in the region?

  • There are so many problems with Muslims.

  • Why, the Rohingyas are being expelled

  • from their own country.

  • This is a much bigger problem than the Uighurs.

  • What's further evidence would you need, apart

  • from an institution like the UN confirming

  • that this is happening, in order for Malaysia to stand up

  • against this.

  • Well, if we see massive emigration of the Uighurs there

  • because of the ill-treatment, as happens in Myanmar, then,

  • I think, the world must take notice and I...

  • we'll join the world in protesting.

  • Another very topical and important issue

  • concerning Malaysia and Malaysian politics,

  • obviously, the issue of succession.

  • Will you step down in 2020 as originally planned?

  • No, there was no actual date or time mentioned.

  • But the actual time I will be there depends on the problems

  • that we face.

  • I've had some experience resolving financial problems,

  • so they want me to solve their problem before I sit down.

  • At the beginning of this latest term,

  • you mentioned that Anwar Ibrahim would be your successor.

  • Is that still the case?

  • Will he succeed you?

  • Yes, it is.

  • It is a promise that I made.

  • What do you respond to the theory

  • that there is a potential that you might not step down at all.

  • I've made many mistakes in appointing my successors,

  • so I don't mean too make another mistake this time.

  • So do you think that at the moment

  • Mahathir Mohamad remains maybe the only person that is

  • able to run Malaysia right now?

  • At the moment, maybe.

I'm here in Bangkok on the sidelines of the Asean Summit.

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マレーシアのマハティール・モハマド氏は留任を誓い、民主主義の限界を警告する I FT (Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad vows to stay on, warns of limits to democracy I FT)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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