KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — Although Malaysia is generally supportive of the idea behind the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the country would still need to study the development strategy.
He said Malaysia is a multiracial country where racial sensitivities remain prevalent.
“We do not want our people to think that after being influenced by the West before, we have now become influenced by China.
“I believe that China will have a great influence over the whole world in the future, but for the moment, it is not for us to promote Chinese ideas and ideologies,” said the Prime Minister during the question and answer session after delivering his keynote address at the ISIS Praxis conference here today.
Asked to comment on a comic circulated in schools to promote China’s BRI, titled “Belt and Road initiative for Win Winism”, Dr Mahathir replied that it was not good to influence the minds of Malaysian youths.
“The young people must understand the problems, strategies and the policies of their own country first, so that when they come up against other people, they know their place.
“As much as we do not want the influence of the West in our strategies in our school, we also do not want other countries to have undue influence over our young people,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia has always regarded China as friend, except in the early days of independence when it had to deal with China’s communist ideology which Malaysia does not subscribe to.
However, after China adopted new policies which had benefited the country, turning it into the world’s second largest economy, Malaysia saw that it was a good opportunity to continue having good relations with the country, he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said that those who are involved in promoting national unity should not depend on the government for tax deductions and subsidies, as they should do so out of their passion and love for the country.
“If they love the country, they should show it, they have to prove it. It is about time to forget about subsidies,” he added.