‘World is borderless for money not people’

ANKARA (AA): Western countries’ claim to be borderless is not consistent on the issue of migrants, Malaysia’s prime minister said.

During a visit to the Cambridge Union in the U.K. on Sunday, Mahathir Mohamad said the West produced the idea of a “borderless world”, but meant borderless “only for flow of capital.”

“When people started to move, [Western countries] started building walls and putting barbed wires to keep out people,” he said.

Mahathir said his country suffered from a currency crisis during 1997-98 because of a “large quantity of money” coming into Malaysia from abroad, pushing up stock values.

“When the shares valued at [a] high enough level, then, they [foreign investors] downed their shares, took their profits, left the country, leaving the locals [in lurch] who later [understood] shares were practically valueless,” he said

Malaysia survived the crisis due to its commitment to orthodoxy, and its orientation towards the East, Mahathir added, underlining that Malaysia itself had also made some “wrong” moves in fixing its exchange rate.

“Instead of collapsing, we came out of the crisis,” he said.

Asian markets faced severe financial crisis gripping many East and Southeast Asian nations beginning in July 1997 in Thailand.

Malaysia was highly dependent on public borrowing and after the economic melt-down, the country faced a severe currency crisis as investors pulled out money from the country’s markets.

Exclusion of migrants

Mahathir said that there was a huge number of people that in Latin America who were migrating to the U.S. because they saw the country “as a paradise”.

“Unfortunately Mr. Trump does not like color of their face, perhaps,” he said.

Mahathir cited a similar situation in Europe, where many “Arabs and Africans” were moving.

“At least one country put up barbed wires,” he said, adding that there was much “unhappiness and difference of opinion” in the bloc, which eventually led the U.K. to vote to leave.

“The EU is not today what it is supposed to be…[It] is no longer regarded as a model for world,” Mahathir said.

Referring to conflict in the Middle East, he said conflicts in the region were fought due to Western desires for regime change.

“Now, we are also seeing confrontation between [the] U.S. and China, [the] U.S. and Iran, and now we are on the brink of a war… war ships are being sent to [the] South China Sea,” he added.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been at a fever pitch since Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. in May 2018 from an international pact aimed at reigning in Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.