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Mahathir at UNGA

  • He looked a lot more frail than in those years, and the attention he managed to draw was a fraction of what he did in the past.

Sin Chew Daily

Year after year the annual session of UN General Assembly is being held. This year's session opened and closed with much of the world not noticing it.

The same bunch of world leaders took turns to deliver their speeches on the stage, each talking about what he or she cared most.

It was not more than just another stage for political shows. To be honest, I would not think it would mean anything big for the world's onward progress.

US President Donald Trump made frequent assaults on China and Iran, accusing Beijing of trespassing human rights and manipulating trade mechanisms for its own good, while Iran was accused of “blood lust” and must be punished for undermining world peace.

Trump's righteous-sounding rhetoric only served to highlight America's hypocrisy more!

Britain's new prime minister Boris Johnson somehow managed to make it to the annual session despite having to fix up the Brexit chaos back home, hitting hard in New York at his rivals at home as well as the EU. However, his citing of Greek mythological figure Prometheus in describing his Brexit policy was anything but appropriate.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan talked about restructuring world order, and said the status quo had to be changed, either to ban all nations from possessing nuclear weapons or allow all of them to do so.

Please Mr President, the world is messy enough, and we can't afford to take another joke like this!

The most brainless was none other than Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro who told the world Amazon is not a world heritage nor the planet's green lung, so outsiders should stay out of its business. He also said all the world knew about Amazon fires were lies created by the media.

I suspect whether he is living on this Earth or above the clouds!

Oh yes, I have spent so much time following this utterly uninspiring and illogical UN assembly just for one thing: Mahathir was there!

Thinking about our nonagenarian leader having to fly more than 20 hours to New York, perhaps many Malaysians would feel bad for him.

But to the old man, the trip has always been in his bucket list.

Sure enough Mahathir would not forget when he was in his prime how he voiced up regularly for the Third World and upheld justice for Muslim countries on the international arena, and won the applause of the world for that.

Yes, it was a big achievement for him to become prime minister of Malaysia, but to win the world's praises was an extraordinary feat.

It is not hard to imagine the excitement and anticipation Tun Mahathir was having.

When it was his turn to talk, Mahathir began by criticizing the concentration of UN's power in the hands of the Big Five that had the veto power, which to him was undemocratic.

Next, he hit out at the West's unresponsiveness to the sufferings of Palestinians and Rohingyas, and asserted that Muslims in many other places were being oppressed and forced to leave their homelands.

He made particular mention of Israel for torturing the Palestinians and how he was labeled “anti-Semitic” for that. He nevertheless defended his freedom of speech.

Mahathir said he was only repeating what he used to say in the past. However, he looked a lot more frail than in those years, and the attention he managed to draw was a fraction of what he did in the past.

Of course, he fell short of explaining why Malaysia had withdrawn from ratifying ICERD and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

As a matter of fact, the biggest issues facing the mankind have been racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing.


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