A blunt PM means Malaysia will be heard, says Saifuddin

The foreign minister said he expected Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to keep playing an 'active role' in commenting candidly on international issues. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
The foreign minister said he expected Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to keep playing an 'active role' in commenting candidly on international issues. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 4 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s plain-spokenness can be advantageous to Malaysia by ensuring the country’s points are heard on the world stage, said Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

He said he expected Dr Mahathir to keep playing an “active role” in commenting candidly on international issues such as Palestinian rights.

“I think Dr Mahathir will be Dr Mahathir. He will speak his mind. He is strongly opinionated, and that is helpful in terms of foreign policy,” he told Malay Mail in an exclusive interview.

“I would recommend he keep doing what he is doing,” Saifuddin added, pointing out that Dr Mahathir is famous for his unwavering stand on issues in the past, such as his “buy British last” policy in the 1980s.

Back then, a disagreement with the UK over university tuition fees led Dr Mahathir to encourage a national boycott of all British goods here.

Although the British prime minister at the time, the late Margaret Thatcher, struck a deal with Dr Mahathir to end the campaign, it eventually led the latter to seek alternative development models in Asia and planted the seed for his “Look East” policy.

“Wisma Putra is anxiously waiting for Tun’s speech to the United National General Assembly, on our foreign policy.

“He has confirmed his attendance in September, and this will be something to look out for,” Saifuddin added.

The 73rd session of UNGA will open on September 18 in New York.