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Speech of Former Malaysian Prime Minister H.E. Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad
2014-06-20
Title: Nation Building and Economic Development: The Malaysian Experience
Date: May 26, 2014
Time: 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Venue: Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei


        Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, H.E. Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, visited Taiwan for the first time and gave a speech on Malaysia’s experience in nation building and economic development on May 26, 2014.
 
        In the opening remarks, on behalf of the organizer the Association of Foreign Relations (AFR), H.E. Ambassador as well as the Chairman of the AFR Francisco H.L. Ou (歐鴻鍊) said, “Taiwan and Malaysia have geographical proximity. However, we still need prominent figures like Tun Dr. Mahathir to enhance mutual understanding and facilitate bilateral relations at various levels.”
 
        Been viewed as Malaysia’s “Father of Modernization,” Dr. Mahathir partly attributed the phenomenal growth of the Malaysian economy to three races within the country, which were Chinese, Indian and religious Malaysian. Chinese people devoted their dynamic energy on economy building. Indian helped focus on high-technology in Malaysia while local Malaysian devoted their effort in fishing and agricultural sectors. “The wealth of nation should be shared by three races,” Dr. Mahathir said.
 
        Dr. Mahathir also shared the political policy in building nation. He said, “There should be affirmative action to help poor people gain economic wealth. In my term, Malaysia developed very fast. We invited foreign direct investment and expertise to invest. Those investments used our labor and created jobs for poor segment. This helped attract immigrants from India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand come to Malaysia.”
 
        Dr. Mahathir was proud that Malaysia became developed in the early 20 century. The successful policy adopted by him allowed Malaysia to have educational work force and send many students to study abroad. They had spent more than 25% of budget on education in order to improve quality and increase capacity of work force.
 
        He hoped that by 2020, Malaysia can be a political peaceful entity and developed economy, where citizens’ average per capita income can be up to 18000 dollars. “Malaysia is a successful democracy, but we still on the way to mission of 2020,” Dr. Mahathir said.
 
        Being asked about the prospect of free trade agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir insisted that Taiwan should be an official member in APEC and attend every leaders meeting to discuss things related to free trade. But he didn’t pay much attention on FTA because FTA tended to regulate trade rather than “free” trade, according to Dr. Mahathir.
 
        When talking about the foreign relations, Dr. Mahathir used their experience to call upon Taiwan solving problems with neighbors peacefully without conflict. Staying as a block in East Asia, Dr. Mahathir viewed Malaysia as an agent of global economy. Compared to other countries, Malaysia should look after their people in the country and must learn to forget the past. A nation who wanted to make progress must think of only present and future and work together with every citizen to give people a better life in the future.
 
        Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad had been the Prime Minister between 1981 and 2003. He successfully led Malaysia and engineered the outstanding growth of the Malaysian economy into one of the largest in Southeast Asia during his tenure. He also played a pivotal role in framing Malaysia’s preeminent “Look East” policy in the country’s foreign relations.