Mahathir has compared foreign aid to blood sucking.
Endy M. Bayuni
BOAO, Hainan, China (JP): Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, continuing his anti-globalization rhetoric, broached his most bold proposal to date on Tuesday, with a call for the imposition of a tax on rich countries to replace foreign aid or foreign loans to poor countries.
""Foreign aid has failed. So have foreign loans,"" Mahathir said in a keynote address at the inauguration of the Boao Forum for Asia at a beach resort here overlooking the South China Sea.
He said that, while Malaysia, China, Japan and Korea have managed to reduce or eliminate absolute poverty, many countries in the world have become even more impoverished.
He proposed that assistance be given to these countries to help build essential economic infrastructure, with the money coming from his proposed tax scheme on rich countries.
""Only an international infrastructure development program, funded through an international tax and confining itself to building necessary infrastructures, can overcome the poverty of these nations and the poverty of their people,"" he said.
Mahathir proposed the establishment of a new agency under the auspices of the United Nations to collect and administer the tax and the projects. An agency that is elected democratically. ""No one country should dominate,"" he said.
He said that this would be a win-win affair, with the rich countries getting back a good portion of the money through the sale and execution of some of the infrastructure projects. ""When the poor countries become richer, they will provide excellent markets for the goods and services of the rich.""
A long-time Indonesian diplomat said Mahathir's proposal for an infrastructure tax is reminiscent of the concept broached by the Willy Brandt commission in the 1970s, which launched the North-South dialog. The idea never got off the ground for lack of support from the wealthy North.
The Malaysian premier turned to the new forum, which has been endorsed by delegates from 26 countries, to help develop and promote his latest ideas.
Later at a media conference, Mahathir acknowledged that his anti-globalization rhetoric had earned him a notorious reputation among some countries in the world, but this would in no way deter him from speaking out.
""Eventually, good ideas will be accepted, even by people who are not fond of me or Malaysia,"" he said.
In his speech, Mahathir predicted that Japan would not reject his idea, noting that Japan had always been more generous than all other rich countries.
""We should at least agree to discuss this world infrastructure tax. One day, together we must push for its adoption by the world, by the UN,"" he said.
""The world has never been as rich as it is today. It is immoral that in a world so rich there should be people and countries so distressingly poor,"" he added.
Mahathir singled out international media and non-governmental organizations for meddling in the affairs of independent states on the pretext of concerns over human rights, democracy and bad governance.
""Actually, today the independence of nations is a mockery. Weak nations cannot expect to manage their own affairs freely. They must submit to international scrutiny and even to international management. At that stage, there is no longer any independence,"" he said.
Posted 5 months ago on 01 Dec 2012 19:59 #