Over the weekend, Dr Mahathir Mohamad was asked a seemingly innocent question on President Donald Trump. The response was typical of Mahathir – bold and truthful. President Trump, in his opinion, should resign.
Yet barely a day later, the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur issued a statement, stating its disappointment in Mahathir’s remarks given the long history of collaboration and cooperation between Malaysia and the US.
We have to say we are disappointed that the US State Department is disappointed.
Mahathir’s remark was not a call for action. Rather, it is a response from a concerned global citizen, albeit an esteemed leader of a small inconsequential nation.
Anyone who is halfway decent will, of late, notice how Trump’s actions are hurting the world. Among others, the trade tariffs on China, the unilateral sanctions on Iran and Russia, the unsanctioned attack on Iranian citizens and – to top it all – the US “deal of the century”.
All of these, and more, have succeeded in creating a schism in the world order, and irreparably damaging global civilisation in the process.
Where before, civilisations organised along geo-political lines, this is increasingly not the case. Where previously geo-politics determined ideologies of vast sections of society and civilisations, this is no longer the case.
The ideologies of yesteryear were driven by economic realities of the late 19th to the mid-20th century. Economic theories have since come and gone, but we have seen the world descend into massive economic inequalities between peoples and nations.
We have seen a world chasing to close this gap through unsustainable means detrimental to the survival of the earth, and most of all, we have seen the degradation of global political leadership to abject capitalism and wealth.
The vanguard of global order and peace are now so busy chasing unimaginable wealth and economic power that peace and humanity have ceased to be the raison d’être of governments.
A maxim of “wealth is health” has grown to monstrous proportions that can no longer be contained nor controlled by the smaller nations caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
The world, Malaysia included, is now vulnerable to temper tantrums and squabbles between the large powers, be they economically or politically. This is the result of unfettered globalisation which no one foresaw 25 years ago. For, in this globalised world, when one sneezes, the rest sniffle.
When the US and China play tug-of-war, the rest of the world get the Richter readings. This state of play has to change for it benefits only the very few who control the axis of power.
We are now witnessing that people across the world, as individuals, have risen to protest against this state of play. We can see that from the breakdown of party politics to politics of personalities and identity. We can see that from the numbers of the younger generation – millennials and Gen Z – whose inclinations are towards socialism and an equitable and just world.
This is nothing to be surprised about, because they are the ones having to live with the fallout of the breakdown of the world order. It is time governments returned to their raison d’être of peace and humanity for their people and for the inter-connected world.
We understand the need for nations to be nationalistic and put national interests above other nations’ interests, but that should not come at the expense of humanity and universal human values. This is the point of view Mahathir carries with his response. It is the voice of reason in a world gone awry.
We have to face the reality that the global world order forged mainly in the aftermath of World War II, which has served us well, is no longer able to serve the greater global community.
The global order must reflect the massive changes in economy and society in the last 100 years. It must promote a balanced world order, uncharacterised by hegemony.
In this regard, we must recognise that the rise of China and Russia helps to promote the equilibrium we seek. For I believe Mahathir speaks for the majority when we say that a new world economic order must be characterised by diverse economic systems and players, characteristic of the global demographics.
Ultimately, checks and balances are important. One man cannot have all the say. A new world order dictated solely by the values and actions of President Trump cannot be the default position.
Tariq Ismail Mustafa is a PPBM Supreme Council member.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.