UN least democratic body, says Mahathir

DUBAI — United Nations is the least democratic organisation in the world and the practice of veto has to be done away with in order to make it a relevant international body, said Mahathir Mohammed, the former Malaysian premier in Dubai yesterday. 'If I were to head the UN, the first thing I will do is to disband the UN Security Council and abolish the veto,' Mahathir said at the Leaders In Dubai Summit yesterday.

By Babu Das Augustine (Assistant Editor)

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Published: Wed 30 Nov 2005, 10:06 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:55 PM

'The UN in its current form has lost its relevance; and if at all it should make any sense as supra national political body, it should be run by the consent of the majority rather than by imposing the will of a few who have the veto power.'

Commenting on the current global power equations, the senior statesman made a subtle but sharp attack on the US-led unipolar global power politics. 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We all know that someone has absolute power and he is corrupt,' he said.

Rejecting the Western form of liberal democracy, Mahathir said: 'Liberal democracy (as practised in the West) violates the greater interests of society in the name of individual rights. Malaysia or for that matter any of the countries from the developing world can't afford to have such form of democracy.'

While advocating democracy that suits the overall social and economic development of a nation, he said the power should be ultimately vested with the people and they should have the freedom to choose their leaders.

Mahathir totally rejected the concept of political Islam and urged followers to return to the fundamentals of the Holy Quran.

'If someone interprets Islam to suit his political ideas and objectives, it is not Islam any more. There are more interpretations of Islam than there are political ideologies,' he said.

Reiterating his controversial call for reforming Islam from diverse interpretations of the basic teachings, Mahathir said: “If Islam has to be relevant today, we should not go by the numerous interpretations it acquired through last 1,400 years. People who make use of religion have to be addressed by using the same tool — religion. We have to bring them back to the basic teachings of Islam.'

Elaborating his views on using oil as weapon, the former Malaysian premier said ever since the first oil shock, Arab nations have realised the true value of the assets they have.

'The Arab oil producers now know that they were short changed in the past. The oil they sold for $2 is now worth $70 a barrel. It is up to the wealthy Muslim nations to help the greater Muslim causes. As members of the Ummah, every one has the responsibility that the Muslim brothers are not humiliated, but unfortunately we are in a situation where we are forced to buy weapons from the enemy.'

‘Saddam may not get a fair trial’

DUBAI — Rejecting the US-led invasion of Iraq, Mahathir said the people of Iraq are paying a huge price for the invasion of their country.

'Prior to the Iraq invasion, I had written to world leaders including George Bush and Tony Blair on the consequences of occupying Iraq. The invasion has given a convenient excuse to people who practise deviant ideologies to spread while killing innocent civilians,' he said.

Addressing the issue of terrorism linked to religion, he said: 'There's more violence in Islam today, more people are committing suicide than ever before in the time of Saddam Hussein. The invasion was wrong, and that is not the way to defeat terrorism. Malaysia had its own experience with terrorism — the way to deal with it is to find out why people are disaffected and deal with it. Religion is not the issue; the issue is territorial, the situation in Palestine is the problem.'

Asked about his stand on the ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein, Mahathir expressed doubts if Saddam would ever get a fair trial.

'I am not here to defend Saddam's policies or whatever he stood for. What we would like to see happen is that Saddam gets a fair trial. It's for a court to decide whether he is guilty or not guilty but it must not be a kangaroo court.

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