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‘2020: Realistic or Idealistic?’

Kuala Lumpur, 24 February 2016- The Oxford and Cambridge Society of Malaysia hosted the Honorary President of the Perdana Leadership Foundation, YAB Tun Dato’ Sri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and YAB Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali at Hotel Maya in Kuala Lumpur on 24 February 2016.  

Held as a closed door session under Chatham House Rule, Tun Dr. Mahathir spoke on the topic ‘2020: Realistic or Idealistic?’.  The dialogue was moderated by the Society’s President, Mr. Mark Disney.  More than 170 members and guests attended the dialogue which was preceded by a networking cocktail reception.  The event was made even more meaningful for the Society as Tun Dr. Mahathir defied doctor’s orders and honoured his commitment to speak after initially being advised by doctors to cancel all speaking obligations on that day due to him (Tun Dr. Mahathir) being unwell.  It clearly displays the fortitude for which Tun Dr. Mahathir is justifiably known for.  Tun Dr. Mahathir gave his views on Vision 2020 and offered his take on the geopolitical challenges of the Middle East and China.  In response to Mr. Mark Disney’s question on whether Malaysia can achieve the nine Vision 2020 goals, Tun Dr. Mahathir said, “We have made progress in terms of economic development, from an agricultural to an industrialised country, but maybe not in others. Some of the liberal ideas of the West are fine for them – freedom of speech, the press, and moral attitudes - but we cannot adopt these 100%. Look at the West – marriages between men and men, women and women – which go against all our religious beliefs. We should not copy that… You cannot have freedom to insult people – look at Charlie Hebdo – in a multiracial country like ours you cannot go beyond the limits. There must be some limit to your exercise of freedom. The most important freedom is the right to choose your own leaders”.

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Tun Dr. Mahathir gave his views on Vision 2020 and offered his take on the geopolitical challenges of the Middle East and China.  In response to Mr. Mark Disney’s question on whether Malaysia can achieve the nine Vision 2020 goals, Tun Dr. Mahathir said, “We have made progress in terms of economic development, from an agricultural to an industrialised country, but maybe not in others. Some of the liberal ideas of the West are fine for them – freedom of speech, the press, and moral attitudes - but we cannot adopt these 100%. Look at the West – marriages between men and men, women and women – which go against all our religious beliefs. We should not copy that… You cannot have freedom to insult people – look at Charlie Hebdo – in a multiracial country like ours you cannot go beyond the limits. There must be some limit to your exercise of freedom. The most important freedom is the right to choose your own leaders”.On why Malaysia was the only country in the world that calls itself democratic yet has only had one party in power, Tun Dr. Mahathir said “It’s the choice of the people. In Malaysia, we hit on a system where the BN (National Front) was accepted by the people. Some may say we are not that democratic but we have lost whole States to the Opposition. Look at Kelantan – we can’t win it back”.   

On why Malaysia was the only country in the world that calls itself democratic yet has only had one party in power, Tun Dr. Mahathir said “It’s the choice of the people. In Malaysia, we hit on a system where the BN (National Front) was accepted by the people. Some may say we are not that democratic but we have lost whole States to the Opposition. Look at Kelantan – we can’t win it back”.  

The floor was then opened for comment, leading to a frank and thoughtful exchange of views on many of the ‘unmentionables’ currently swirling around the country. Topics included the TPPA, relations with Singapore, ASEAN’s culture of ‘impunity’, affirmative action and the NEP, the police, the judiciary, and why war should be illegal as well as immoral.  

The Society wishes both Tun Dr. Mahathir and Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah many more years of good health and hopes to have the honour of hosting both of them again in the future.  

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