Malaysia Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, yesterday slammed several world superpowers for imposing sanctions on small countries in the region. He said the sanction would hurt not only the country involved but also other countries for “no reason at all”.
“We have no quarrel with this country, but we are stopped from doing any business with this country because of the sanction. This is grossly unfair.
“As a small country, we cannot apply sanctions on anybody, but it is the big powers who apply the sanctions and therefore they deprive the small countries’ freedom.
“Despite the fact that they keep on talking about human rights and freedom, they take away our freedom to trade with our own trading partners,” he said at a joint press conference with Cambodian PM Hun Sen at the PM’s Office in the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Dr Mahathir said the issue will be brought up at the United Nations General Assembly, which will be held from Sept 17 to 30. “It is a good platform for us to raise the issue,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir, who is on three-day official visit to Cambodia, held a bilateral meeting with his counterpart, Hun Sen. Dr Mahathir said Malaysia and Cambodia had agreed that seas in the region should be free for navigation with no restriction.
“It (restriction) will hamper the development of countries bordering the seas,” he said.
On Timor Leste joining Asean, he said: “We will try to ensure Timor Leste becomes one of the Asean member countries in the next Asean meeting. “Timor Leste has been applying to join Asean for a long time and it should become a member of Asean.”
Meanwhile, Hun Sen said Malaysia and Cambodia are committed to pushing for a conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement within this year because it is vital for the regional economic integration and growth.
He added that Malaysia and Cambodia are committed to further enhance and strengthen cooperation in bilateral and multi-bilateral frameworks to serve the interests of the people of both countries for peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world.
“We acknowledge the need to promote training and information-sharing in the fields of security and national defence, and we welcome the discussion between the two defence ministries on promoting cooperation.
“We encourage the relevant institutions of both countries to accelerate the conclusion of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in combating trafficking in persons,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir and Hun Sen witnessed the signing of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and the MoU on cooperation in the field of tourism. The agreement and MoU were signed by Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Cambodian Economic and Finance Minister Aun Pornmoniroth and Cambodian Tourism Minister Dr Thong Khon.
The Malaysia-Cambodia trade last year stood at US$558 million (RM2.35 billion), while during the first six months of this year, the value reached US$422.6 million, an increase of 39.2% compared to the corresponding period last year.
At present, there are about 400 Malaysian companies operating in the kingdom including banking, hospitality, telecommunication and petroleum sectors.