ASEAN should use the power of its 650 million people – Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad

“The 94 year old Malaysian leader also discussed secrets behind his longevity.”

94 year old Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad says that the 10 ASEAN countries should find ways to better use their 650 million population to spur their economies in the digital age.

“Despite its huge combined population, ASEAN has still failed to create an effective domestic market the way China has successfully done.”

Speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2019 in Bangkok today, the Malaysian leader commented that, one reason why China has been able to transform itself from a poor country to become an economic power in a span of just only four decades, is because it has been successful in harnessing the potential of its huge population of 1.3 billion.

“China has made use of its population by turning it into a huge domestic market. Digital technology has in large parts contributed to China’s extraordinary economic growth.

“ASEAN has 650 million people but has not performed the way we should.”

Mahathir suggested that ASEAN countries join hands to empower the huge population into a domestic market.

“Now we are entering the fourth industrial revolution which should help us grow much faster than before. Communication helps us know what each other wants so that we can invest to provide for these needs.”

Mahathir said there is also a need to educate peoples in ASEAN about the importance of digital economy. He said while China is already doing away with cash, ASEAN countries have yet to make their peoples fully understand the potential of digitalisation.

“If we understand the new technologies and make use of them, our economy will grow faster.”

Mahathir also called on ASEAN countries to unite and speak with one voice on trade and other issues affecting them. In a thinly veiled slash at US President Trump, Mahathir said leaders in developed countries “have resorted to protectionism, making it even more imperative for countries in the region to have a common stand on trade issues”.

Power of One

“We need to speak in one language. Before any international gathering, we should discuss our common stand and stick to it. Always try to speak with one voice. If you go alone, you will be bullied.”

Asked about the on-going trade war between the US and China, Mahathir said that in a worst-case scenario if US President Donald Trump is re-elected, it could prolong for another five years. However, he noted that many Americans are not happy with President Trump’s policies and may make their voices heard in the next presidential election.

The 94 year old Malaysian leader also discussed secrets behind his longevity. He said it all boils down to people’s eating habit. He said the older people get, the more careful they should be about what they eat and how much they eat.

“My suggestion is that when you find your food tasty, just stop eating. You eat to live, not live to eat,” he said, adding that staying physically and mentally active is also very important.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

World News
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