NEW YORK: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who arrives here today (Sept 24) to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), is expected to use the platform to further Malaysia’s aspirations on the international stage.
Speaking to Malaysian media here today, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the main agenda of the visit will be Dr Mahathir’s speech at the 74th UNGA on Sept 27 (3am Malaysian time on Sept 28).
“I believe Tun Dr Mahathir will repeat Malaysia’s call for urgent UN reforms, and stress that while these reforms are being done, it is important for member states to respect international institutions and rules,” he added.
Saifuddin said Malaysia supports multilateralism, where countries are allied in pursuing common goals, but the concept is increasingly coming under threat.
There are powerful countries that are disregarding multilateral agreements and imposing their will for their own agendas, Dr Mahathir said at the recent launch of the Foreign Policy Framework of the New Malaysia.
Examples include the injustices in Palestine, recent tensions in Kashmir, and unilateral trade or economic sanctions.
The framework, itself guided by Dr Mahathir’s speech at the UN last year – his first as Malaysia’s 7th prime minister – envisions the country being more proactive in its foreign policy. This week’s UN meeting would be an early test of this new approach.
“Resolutions at the UN don’t happen overnight. The debate and discourse take place years before. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is one good example.
“But there are other important issues yet to be regulated. When you look at the US going after Huawei. Any analyst will know that this is not just about Huawei or telephones. And the way China reacted is not just about protection of their product. Something is brewing.
“It could be part of the process of debate towards an international regulation pertaining to...I don’t know. We have to be part of that discourse,” Saifuddin said.
He said the prime minister will also speak on the topic “Rule of Law through Multilateralism” at Columbia University’s World Leaders Forum on Wednesday.
The prime minister’s delegation during the five-day working visit will include his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, and senior government officials.
Dr Mahathir will also be speaking at several side events co-hosted by Malaysia. The first – on the Rohingya crisis – is also supported by Bangladesh, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.
The second, on “Environmental Stewardship in Addressing Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All”, is backed by Turkey, Pakistan and the UN Department of Social Economic Affairs.
In between these UN-related events, Dr Mahathir will also have bilateral meetings and courtesy calls with other leaders and key corporate leaders.
Dr Mahathir will also deliver Malaysia’s statement at Leaders Dialogue 6: The 2020-2030 Vision during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (SDG Summit) on Sept 25.