PUTRAJAYA, Sept 19 — A new Foreign Policy Framework was launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday, with Putrajaya declaring its intention to not shy away from speaking up against regional or global breaches of human rights and inequality.
Themed “Change in Continuity”, it is also poised to turn Malaysia into a more influential and respected voice regionally and in the global political arena, while at the same time not abandoning its internal interests.
In the document launched yesterday, Putrajaya pledged to prioritise maintaining good relations with other nations while practicing justice and fairness, and endorsing mutually beneficial international trade markets.
The Framework also assured that national interests concerning national security, the economic prosperity of the nation, and its identity as a nation and position within the Muslim world would not be adversely affected.
In order to maintain a reputable and culture rich identity, the Framework pushes for a Malaysia to actively speak out against human rights violations, and endorse amicable and sustainable outcomes for international conflicts while assisting post disaster or conflict situations.
At the same time, the framework pushes for actions that would propel Malaysia into a position to be seen as an exemplary Islamic country, one that is inclusive, developed and progressive.
“In doing so, Malaysia can demonstrate to the world, the goodness of Islam and the ummah in line with the principle of ‘rahmatan lil alamin’ (mercy for all).
“In formulating its foreign policy, Malaysia will be cognisant and make fair assessments on the roles and contributions of various Islamic movements, without any prejudice,” read the Framework.
As for topics concerning national security, the ongoing South China Sea territorial dispute was cited within the Framework, with the new policy said to encourage stability and peace that can be achieved through continuous dialogues among member states, and suggestions for the area to instead be turned into trade hub.
Putrajaya has in recent times patched up its relationship with China after Dr Mahathir and Pakatan Harapan took a slightly hostile position towards the global superpower’s hold over the previous Barisan Nasional administration.
However, Putrajaya had also been criticised for its position towards China’s treatment of the Muslim Uighur minorities, ranging from either silence to minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s alleged remarks echoing Beijing’s stance on the matter.
Dr Mahathir, in his speech at the launch yesterday, said among the tangible actions would be active participation at international gatherings where Malaysia is a member of, which could in turn influence the outcome of decisions at other conventions where Malaysia is not a member.
He said another outcome from the new Framework could see Malaysia shape the discourse on other emerging issues such as those surrounding the Industrial Revolution 4.0, and the blue economy.
Dr Mahathir also pointed out the Framework meant Malaysia would not bow down to international pressure and pledged to speak up against actions opposing multilateralism, which he said was under threat and a topic of great concern to Malaysia.
As examples, he said actions such instances of powerful countries imposing their will onto smaller nations and countries who “flagrantly violate” international agreements and conventions was of great concern to Malaysia.
“Malaysia reserves the right to express its opinion and if necessary, its protestations, against injustices, oppressions and other crimes against humanity that is committed by any nations.
“Malaysia had never shied away from what it believes to be a responsibility and commitment to mankind. Malaysia will submit what it must but it will be under open protest,” he said in his speech at Perdana Putra yesterday.
“Malaysia will nevertheless remain steadfast in pursuing its foreign policy goals based on the principles of justice and fairness. I am optimistic that we will be able to achieve these goals,” he added.
In recent months, Wisma Putra has been vocal in its support for the plight of Palestinians in the face of injustice by Israel and the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, consistent with its pledge in the Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto.
Last month, Dr Mahathir had also brought up the issue of the volatile tensions in the Jammu and Kashmir region with India, following New Delhi’s move to cancel the special status of both regions which had enabled the people to formulate their own laws and prevent foreigners from residing in the territories.