30 January, 2007

Malaysia's Dr M backs Thailand over feud with Singapore

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed threw his support behind Thailand's diplomatic spat with Singapore, accusing the city-state of interfering in the country's internal affairs and violating diplomatic norms by permitting its senior government official to meet with ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

In an interview with Nation Channel's Thepchai Yong over the weekend on this island resort, Mahathir said Singapore had permitted Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar to meet with Thaksin in spite of their awareness that such act would grossly upset Bangkok.

"Singapore doesn't really care about the opinion of its neighbours," said Mahathir, adding that the decision was "unfeeling and not sympathetic".

"Singapore believes the most important thing is what profits Singapore," he said.

Thai-Singapore relation has hit one of its lowest points following the controversial meeting. The Foreign Ministry insisted that it has given the island-state prior warning about Thailand's strong objection to the meeting.

Two weeks ago, army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin accused Singapore of spying on Thailand by eaves dropping on telephone conversations, adding more fuel to what was billed as already a difficult situation between the two countries.

"That's the kind of things they do," Mahathir said. The Singaporean government dismissed Sonthi's claim.

When asked about his 22 years of dealing with Singapore, Mahathir said "You'll get no where with them either being nice or being tough, they only think of themselves," Mahathir said.

Nevertheless, Mahathir said both sides to patch things up but "in away that is honorable", which, he said, should start with an apology from Singapore.

The former Malaysian leader said he would welcome a meeting with Thaksin only if the former Thai premier asked for it. But Mahathir quickly downplayed the idea, saying "I don't have anything to discuss with him.

Thaksin has publicly praised Mahathir as his role model during his time in office.

"Although he has said I was his friend and he wants to follow my way. But many of his ways are not my way," Mahathir said.

Thaksin has been living in exile since his ouster in September. The former premier has launched a media campaign to discredit the military-appointed government in Bangkok and the junta itself, accusing them of mismanagement and being undemocratic.

Singapore's investment firm Temasek Holdings purchase of Thaksin family-controlled Shin Corp. in January had triggered an outcry in Thailand and exploded into a national scandal that led to his downfall after it was disclosed that the family paid no taxes on the Bt73-billion deal.

The deal allowed the Singaporean investment fund, Temasek to control operation of mobile phone, Satellite and television network, which the junta deemed as a possible access to security concern areas,

Mahathir said Thailand had benefited economically under Thaksin but added that his handlings of policy and controversies were not very diplomatic.

Mahthir dismissed suggestion that Thakisin had followed his footstep by meddling with press freedom. He said his outspokenness against Western countries has put him in a bad light with the foreign press.
(Source: The Nation Thailand)

Here In Malaysia : Malaysia takes pride in racial, religious harmony

"Malaysia has reached a stage where our society has made progress that can be described as excellent ... with a democratic leadership,'' Culture Minister Rais Yatim said at a news conference.

The government has constantly reminded Malaysians that it has not been easy, since the nation's independence in 1957, to transform what was once an ethnically riven backwater into one of Southeast Asia's most prosperous and peaceful countries, with high-rise cities and a vibrant manufacturing sector.

Over there in Singapore : Malaysia's race divide threatens economy, society

Growing racial divides are undermining Malaysia and the government must act or face severe social and financial consequences, an anti-corruption watchdog warned Monday.

"We are beginning to see more and more signs of what could be indications of a failing state," he said at a conference on the 2007 outlook for Malaysia.

"If we don't address these issues now, it's like gangrene. It gathers in strength and intensity and causes major problems."



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