Why Obama should listen to Malaysia's Mahathir
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-03-26

Leaders can gain a lot when they listen to their enemies or those who are critical of them. Many times, it is the diehard loyalist who can cause the undoing of a leader.

Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Bin Moha-mad, wrote an open letter to then President-elect Barack Obama which came as a New Year’s greeting. Dated January 1, 2009, it was posted on Dr. Mahathir’s website (www.chedet.cc).

Although he is not an enemy of the US like Osama Bin Laden, Dr. Mahathir has been a vocal US critic. President Barack Obama will benefit tremendously if he heeds what Dr. Mahathir stated in his New Year greeting, a good part of which follows.

(Start of quoted portion of Dr. Mahathir’s letter):

“I did not vote for you in the Presidential Election because I am Malaysian.

But I consider myself one of your constituents because what you do or say will affect me and my country as well.

I welcome your promise for change. Certainly your country, the United States of America needs a lot of changes.

That is because America and Americans have become the most hated people in the world. Even Europeans dislike your arrogance. Yet you were once admired and liked because you freed a lot of countries from conquest and subjugation.

It is the custom on New Year’s Day for people to make resolutions. You must have listed your good resolutions already. But may I politely suggest that you also resolve to do the following in pursuit of Change.

1) Stop killing people. The United States is too fond of killing people in order to achieve its objectives. You call it war, but today’s wars are not about professional soldiers fighting and killing each other. It is about killing people, ordinary innocent people by the hundreds of thousands. Whole countries will be devastated.

War is primitive, the cavemen’s way of dealing with a problem. Stop your arms build up and your planning for future wars.

2) Stop indiscriminate support of Israeli killers with your money and your weapons. The planes and the bombs killing the people of Gaza are from you.

3) Stop applying sanctions against countries which cannot do the same against you.

In Iraq your sanctions killed 500,000 children through depriving them of medicine and food. Others were born deformed.

What have you achieved with this cruelty? Nothing except the hatred of the victims and right-thinking people.

4) Stop your scientists and researchers from inventing new and more diabolical weapons to kill more people more efficiently.

5) Stop your arms manufacturers from producing them. Stop your sales of arms to the world. It is blood money that you earn. It is un-Christian.

6) Stop trying to democratize all the countries of the world. Democracy may work for the United States but it does not always work for other countries.

Don’t kill people because they are not democratic. Your crusade to democratize countries has killed more people than the authoritarian Governments which you overthrew. And you have not succeeded anyway.

7) Stop the casinos which you call financial institutions. Stop hedge funds, derivatives and currency trading. Stop banks from lending non-existent money by the billions.

Regulate and supervise your banks. Jail the miscreants who made profits from abusing the system.

8) Sign the Kyoto Protocol and other international agreements.

9) Show respect for the United Nations.

I have many other resolutions for change which I think you should consider and undertake.

But I think you have enough on your plate for this 2009th year of the Christian Era.

If you can do only a few of what I suggest, you will be remembered by the world as a great leader. Then the United States will again be the most admired nation. Your embassies will be able to take down the high fences and razor-wire coils that surround them.” (End of quoted portion of letter)

We accept the fact that, being a Muslim, Dr. Mahathir naturally sympathizes with the cause of the Muslims all over the world whom the US have oppressed and suppressed either directly (as in the case of the Iraqi people) or indirectly (as in the case of the Palestinian victims of Israeli harsh ‘an eye for an eye’ policy). However, it would be foolish to dismiss Dr. Mahathir’s advice simply because he is a Muslim.

If President Obama is indeed determined to mend fences with US Muslim enemies — even proposing to start talking with Middle East superpower Iran — then all the more the suggestions of Dr. Mahathir become priceless to the US president because these reflect what truly concerns the enemies that the US wants to neutralize.

The US will have its hands full trying to face the looming threat of a Russo-Sino Alliance, not to mention India which is now part of this club. Hobbled by its sagging economy, greatly mistrusted now in many parts of the world — the US will need to win over the oil-rich Arab and Muslim states in the Middle East and in Asia.

Oil is the crucial commodity that the US and China are desperately seeking to corner and control. Both the US and China are set to corner the last remaining big oil fields and that is why the oil in the South China Sea is most vital to the two superpowers.

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