KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia has been granted a huge opportunity to set the tone with its chairmanship of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit this year.
However, the former prime minister cautioned that the new government led by his replacement Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin must bring concrete proposals for discussion.
“You can be a chair, but if you come to the meeting without some ideas on how to make use of this collaboration, then the Apec will yield nothing and be good for nobody,” Dr Mahathir told business paper Nikkei Asia in an exclusive interview.
Malaysia is the current host and Dr Mahathir had hoped to chair the important summit before his Pakatan Harapan government collapsed earlier in February just as the Covid-19 virus began spreading around the world and causing widespread health and economic crises.
His successor Muhyiddin has said Apec has made tackling Covid-19 its top agenda.
Members have pledged to refrain from backtracking and resorting to protectionist measures to keep markets and borders open, including ensuring smooth cross-border movement of essential goods including food, medicines, and medical supplies.
Dr Mahathir said Apec must find solutions to contain the pandemic’s impact on jobs and businesses.
“One thing about the pandemic is that it stops people from working and when people don't work, they are not productive and do not contribute to the economy.”