Dr M tells Apec leaders to make bloc truly equal

Leaders of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) bloc at the Apec 2018 Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea November 18, 2018. — Picture courtesy of Information Dept
Leaders of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) bloc at the Apec 2018 Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea November 18, 2018. — Picture courtesy of Information Dept

PORT MORESBY, Nov 18 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that he told leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) bloc to raise up developing nations, citing fears of worsening inequalities caused by technological advances.

The Malaysian prime minister said information technology in less developed countries must be improved.

“I pointed out that one of the most important things in Apec is that while we are equal members of Apec, but we are not equal in terms of development.

“Unless there is proper understanding of the new technologies on the part of the countries which are behind, the disparity might become even worse,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference here on what transpired during the Apec leaders’ retreat at the Papua New Guinea capital.

The 21-member Apec group comprises a range of economies from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand to poor countries like Papua New Guinea, Mexico, and Peru, as well as big nations like the United States, China, Australia, and Russia.

Dr Mahathir earlier warned business leaders at the Apec 2018 Summit here that the “age of disruption”, a reference to innovations like ride-sharing and home-sharing platforms that upended traditional taxi and hotel industries, should not widen inequality.

He also criticised free trade that hurt developing countries and said regulations on personal data and intellectual property rights must benefit governments, not just large corporations or advanced economies.