No need to debate ‘Look East’ policy, Dr M tells Boo

Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he will not debate Dr Boo Cheng Hau.

LANGKAWI: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has declined a challenge by DAP’s outspoken Dr Boo Cheng Hau to debate the lessons gleaned from the prime minister’s “Look East” policy for Malaysia’s future.

Boo, a Johor DAP committee member, had said that as an ordinary citizen, he would like to debate with Mahathir about what has been learnt from the “Look East” policy other than events like the Formula One race and the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA).

He said in a Facebook post that Putrajaya’s focus now seemed to be mainly on events such as F1 races and LIMA, adding that “playing on hardware like weaponry and canons” would ensure the country’s end instead of saving it.

But Mahathir, when asked about this on the sidelines of LIMA here today, said he would not debate with Boo.

“No,” he curtly said when asked by a reporter, which led to laughter all around.

“If someone doesn’t know what we have learned from the ‘Look East’ policy, then it is not worth debating with him,” the Langkawi MP said.

Boo, who had previously called on Mahathir to resign as prime minister, said that without true policy reforms, including education, the F1 event and LIMA – both of which are credited to Mahathir – are just his “self-entertaining toys”.

“This is exactly what Tun Mahathir is doing now, playing on Formula One and the LIMA aerospace expo without improving our institutions and education system.”

Mahathir was instrumental in creating the Sepang Circuit, which was built to host the F1 race.

The annual event was held there from 1999 to 2017, when it was discontinued because of declining interest in the race and the high costs involved.

In February, Mahathir expressed hope that the event would return to Malaysia.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has since said it would be up to the Cabinet to decide on restarting the F1 race.

LIMA, on the other hand, has seen the participation of military, defence and transport officials and companies from around the world.

This year, more than 30 countries are taking part in the exhibition, which ends on Saturday.

Mahathir officiated the event on Tuesday, some 28 years after first launching the inaugural edition of the biannual event.

In calling for Mahathir’s resignation recently, Boo had hit out at the prime minister and PPBM chairman for belittling the pledges in Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto.