Dr Mahathir: Applying sanctions is against the law


BANGKOK • Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has criticised a certain country for imposing economic sanctions on another country, saying it is against the law.

He said applying sanctions not only hurts the country involved, but also negatively impacts other countries that trade with the country sanctioned.

“There is no provision in UN (United Nations) that when a country is dissatisfied with another country, it can apply sanction on that country, as well as other countries that trade with the country being sanctioned,” he told the Malaysian media on the sidelines of the 35th Asean Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, yesterday.

He noted that although the issue of sanctions was not mentioned at the summit, it had also affected other countries.

“Malaysia is now being sanctioned, because we can’t trade with a very big trading country of ours, Iran. Other countries also receive the same treatment.

“So, under what law? They talk so much about rule of law and rule-based trade, but the very people that talk about this are the same people not adhering to the principles,” he said.

Though Dr Mahathir did not mention the nation which imposed economic sanctions, the US has slapped economic and trade sanctions on Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme.

Earlier last week, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was pressured by certain quarters to close bank accounts of Iranian individuals and companies in Malaysia due to the sanction on Iran.

He also said the issue of US-China trade war was discussed at the summits, with the leaders expressing their concern over the ongoing spat with no signs when it would end.

“Yes. They all feel that this is disrupting the growth of their trade and economy.

“They would like to have a peaceful world where they can trade with other countries,” he said, adding that China itself had wanted to put an end to it.

The PM said the trade war could drag on for at least another five years if US President Donald Trump was re-elected next year.

He also spoke about the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying it is not easy to conclude as it needs to reach an agreement by all 16-RCEP countries.

“If one country demands something and we cannot accept it, then there will be no agreement. Multilateral or even bilateral is not easy. It is not just about being nice to each other or patting your back and saying I agree with what you said and you agree with what I said.

“I am very disappointed with the negotiation of the RCEP. We thought on the first year we should have concluded the negotiations,” he said when asked to comment on the conclusion of RCEP after the seven-year delay.

The RCEP is a multilateral trade agreement between the 10 member states of Asean and its six free trade agreement partners.

RCEP began in 2012 with a combined GDP of US$49.5 trillion (RM206.41 trillion), which makes up 39% of the total global GDP, and is set to be the world’s largest trade pact when successfully concluded.

Meanwhile, Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking said only one country is still “not clear” of its decision pending conclusion on some issues at home.

It is believed the negotiations are still unable to come to terms in at least four outstanding chapters of the 20-chapter text, namely e-investment, e-commerce, rules of origin and trade remedies. — Bernama