Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today called for economic sanctions to be seen as acts of war, saying that trade or economic embargoes were often used by the world’s major powers to bully smaller countries.
By Rozanna Latiff – 9 February 2015 @ 3:43 PM
BANGI: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today called for economic sanctions to be seen as acts of war, saying that trade or economic embargoes were often used by the world’s major powers to bully smaller countries.
He said the imposition of sanctions had the same effects on countries as war, by crippling their economies and causing shortages of food, medical supplies, and other necessities.
“This is bullying and can be seen as a new way to wage war against others. We cannot impose sanctions on another country and impoverish their people to force them to submit to us,” he said here, during a lecture held in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations between Malaysia and Cuba.
Dr Mahathir, who is the patron of the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, said the foundation was ready to work with other organisations, such as the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), on any international campaigns to declare such sanctions illegal.
He was commenting on a question posed by JUST president Dr Chandra Muzaffar on the United States’ continued trade embargo against Cuba, despite the restoration of full diplomatic relations last December.
Dr Mahathir said the embargo had done little to change Cuba’s Communist regime, and accused the US government of practicing double standards when criticising Cuba’s human rights record.
The US, he said, should not be taking the moral high ground, citing a recently released report which detailed numerous human rights abuses committed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including the torture of US war prisoners.
“It was legal (for the US) to torture people – I don’t know if that conforms to our ideas of human rights.”
“I’m not anti-American. But to take the moral high ground and tell people that their human rights record is bad, when they should look at their own record and find that (their record) is worse… it’s not very proper.”
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia’s human rights record had also come under fire from the US, and alluded to arrests made under the Internal Security Act during his tenure as prime minister.
“Of course my record is bad, and I accept that my record is bad. But theirs’ (the US) is worse.”
“We (detain) people for two years, but the US keep people for more than ten years at Guantanamo Bay (US detention facility in Cuba). Why Guantanamo? Because they say Cuba allows detention without trial.
“The prisoners are there for years without trial and may have been tortured, but somehow that is seen as alright.
“So I don’t think people should take it upon themselves to tell others how to behave or how to run their countries.”
He said Malaysia’s strong ties with Cuba was based on non-interference, despite the differences between the two countries’ systems of governance