Mahathir urges ASEAN to be vigilant against big power involvement in region
KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia said today big power rivalry and foreign interference swirling around the Middle East is yet another reminder why Malaysia and ASEAN must be forever vigilant against big power involvement in the region, Bernama reported.
The Malaysian leader said if Malaysia and ASEAN were not careful, the same fate that had befallen the Middle East could overtake as well with the same predictable consequences.
“Countries in the region will be forced to buy ever-increasing amounts of weapons from the big powers so that they can fight each other, resulting in big power and foreign countries gaining profits while ASEAN becomes progressively impoverished and unstable,” he said
According to Bernama, Mahathir said that countries in Asia are also beginning to see what he described as “the seeds of confrontation and rivalry in our region.” “Lines are being drawn. Bases are being built. Armadas are being readied. The pressure is on to take sides,” he said during “Stand With Yemen” Symposium and Photo Exhibition here today.
His speech text was read out by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
Mahathir said Malaysia would work with friends in ASEAN to upgrade existing regional frameworks to ensure that the region leaves no room for big power intervention and to ensure that the growing rivalry between the United States and China does not lead to regional fractures.
“Malaysia has always put its hopes on non-alignment, on being open and friendly to all countries. We will not take sides in big power rivalries and neither will we rely on military alliances or strategic partnerships.
.This policy has served Malaysia and ASEAN well through the most intense periods of big power rivalry in the past and will continue to remain relevant as a regional security framework,” he said.