After Malaysia achieved independence, it did what was natural, which was to join the British Commonwealth and became part of the Western Bloc. Malaysia rejected the Eastern bloc and for good reason, says Dr Mahathir. At that time, we were battling the communists. Malaysia supported the Americans in the Vietnam War because we believed in the Domino Theory that if Vietnam were to fall to communism, this would spread to the rest of the region. When Tun Abdul Razak became the prime minister, we began to see the beginnings of our country’s shift towards the non-aligned movement.
When Dr M came onto the scene, he decided Malaysia’s priority would be ASEAN followed by the poorer, developed countries of the world. Malaysia trained many diplomats and technocrats from third world countries. This has actually paid dividends because now it is easy for Malaysian businesses to enter into those countries. Petronas, for example, is in Chad, helping the country to produce petroleum.