PHNOM PEHN: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has advised leaders of emerging economies to cherish their independence and not become indebted to other countries.
Speaking to The Phnom Penh Post in an exclusive interview yesterday, he said: “Never borrow more than you can repay. It is very important. Don’t spend more than your means and if you have to borrow, make sure you can repay the loan.
“Once you are indebted to other countries, you are no longer independent. So, value your independence.
“Even if your national development is slowed down, it is worthwhile because you don’t want to again be colonised by others – not directly, but indirectly through their influence over your economy,” he added.
Mahathir also advised Asean countries to remain steadfast in defending their national integrity and not allow any foreign power to dictate terms or interfere in their internal affairs.
Most countries, he said, preferred that their domestic affairs be left to themselves and not be interfered with by foreign powers.
However, he said there were some exceptions to the rule. “There might be some extreme cases, like during the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia, for example, where it was important for powerful nations to intervene.
“The Khmer Rouge period is an extremely unfortunate one in Cambodian history because the global powers knew about the widespread massacres and torture of Cambodians but did nothing.
“And now we all see what is happening in Myanmar, where the Rohingya are being murdered and massacred and the foreign powers simply give advice to the government and nothing else but that.
“But in the case of the US’ quarrel with Iran, it is willing to apply trade sanctions and other measures to punish that country.
“So, in my view, global powers care more about their own interests than about the interests of developing countries.
“And in any case, they are showing that they are not perfect either. Britain’s prime minister has just suspended its parliament, which is the most undemocratic thing to do,” he said when explaining the hypocritical manner in which some global powers behaved.
So, what is the way forward to stop global powers from interfering in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs?
Mahathir said: “If Western powers are told not to interfere, they will not listen. We can’t do very much because they are very powerful. But I think if we band together like in the Asean grouping, and if we are united and take action together, we will be more effective. — Joshua Purushotman, The Phnom Penh Post