PM: M’sia to hold talks with UK post-Brexit

Dr Mahathir says M’sia also wants to be independent and have its own defence policy


London • Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia will hold trade talks with the UK separately post-Brexit.

He said Malaysia intends to continue the relationship whether the UK is in the European Union (EU) or not.

“When the UK leaves the EU, we will talk with the UK alone. To us, what is important is trade with these countries,” he said after delivering a talk on “The Future of Democracy in Asia” at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, yesterday.

The UK is scheduled to withdraw from the EU on March 29 next year.

In his talk, Dr Mahathir said democracy is not a “one size fits all” because each country has its own culture and some cultures are so strong that it is difficult for them to change.

He said democracy is not perfect in a society where there are differences in cultures.

“The mindset necessary in a democracy is that people must be able to accept the role of the winner. Some will fail because there are quarrels all the time with people who are sniping at the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia does not believe in military alliances.

“We want to be independent, have our own policy.”

Dr Mahathir said that getting tied to a group of countries in a military alliance will get Malaysia involved in their politics.

He said although Malaysia is a member of the Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA), with the five countries deciding to work together, it does not mean that Malaysia has to follow their policies.

“We can have our own (defence) policies.” The FPDA, signed in 1971, brings together Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK.

Dr Mahathir also stressed that he does not like to have foreign countries having a military base in Malaysia.

“We want to be free from any involvement of other countries,” he said.

On dealing with outstanding issues involving neighbouring countries like Singapore, Dr Mahathir said although negotiations may not be so successful, Malaysia does not intend to go to war with them.

He said Singapore is more powerful than Malaysia though it may be small in size, drawing laughter from the packed hall.

“I don’t see war as a way to settle (issues). We will continue to negotiate although there may be no results,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also suggested that claimants refer cases to the International Court of Justice, but added that both sides must, before that, agree to abide by the decision made by the court. — Bernama