Jul 8, 2007

Tun Mahathir defends policy

(BERNAMA) Malaysia is the best developed country among developing countries despite practising affirmative action policy, said former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In defending the policy which provides advantages to Bumiputeras in areas such as education, economic and job opportunities, Dr Mahathir said affirmative action, if used judiciously, could yield good results.

He said in Malaysia there are not only different ethnic groups with different religions but also economic disparity between the races.

"Economic disparity, if allowed to continue, will get worse. Then there will be instability. Disparity always creates tension between groups even if they are ethnically the same.

The birth of socialism and communism was due to economic disparity...a feeling that they were cheated by capitalists," he said.

Mahathir said this in a television interview by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Saturday when asked about the affirmative action policy and the recent criticism by the European Commission's head of delegation to Malaysia, Thierry Rommel.

On June 21, Rommel was reported to have said that the affirmative action policy was detrimental to Malaysia and could hinder a free trade agreement because of its protectionism.

He was subsequently summoned to Wisma Putra to explain his controversial remarks and had clarified that he had no intention in meddling in Malaysia's internal affairs.

On terrorism and prejudices against Muslims, Dr Mahathir said the West still failed to get to the root causes of terrorism despite trying to solve them.

He said the root causes were mainly due to the failure to solve the protracted Palestinian problem.

"They (the West) are in a state of absolute denial." You can examine 1.3 billion Muslims (the Muslim population worldwide) but that is not going to help you stop (terrorism) because they feel angry...they feel that they have been oppressed and because the Palestinian problem had not been attended to," said Dr Mahathir.

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