For­mer Malaysian premier Ma­hathir Mo­hamad takes ques­tions from re­porters at the side­lines of a fo­rum or­ga­nized by the Fi­nan­cial Ex­ec­u­tives of the Philip­pines and the Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines. Mo­hamad said in­vestors would keep com­ing in de­spite Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s tirades as long as there is sta­bil­ity and rule of law.

THE Philip­pines has the ca­pac­ity to lead the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions’ (Asean) in­te­gra­tion ef­fort given its suc­cess in unit­ing a di­verse pop­u­la­tion, a for­mer Malaysian head of state said. “I think the Philip­pines has the po­ten­tial for lead­ing the in­te­gra­tion be­cause it had ex­pe­ri­ence with re­gard to run- ning a coun­try that is very big--over 100 mil­lion peo­ple of di­verse races, tribes, etc. liv­ing on is­lands,” for­mer Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamed said in a brief­ing at the side­lines of a Fi­nan­cial Ex­ec­u­tives In­sti­tute of the Philip­pines (Finex) con­fer­ence in Makati City on Fri­day.

Ma­hathir said the Philip­pines, as Asean chair for this year, should show how it was keep­ing the ar­chi­pel­ago to­gether.

For­mer Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamed. PHOTO BY RUS­SELL PALMA

“This is an op­por­tu­nity for the Philip­pines to ex­hibit some of your suc­cesses in this field — that you can stay as a na­tion amid the di­ver­sity of your pop­u­la­tion,” he said.

“The ten­dency now is to break away but if you have the ca­pac­ity and un­der­stand­ing that you be­long to one coun­try, I think you can pro­vide mod­els for other na­tions.”

Mean­while, Ma­hathir said re­gional in­te­gra­tion could be fast- tracked through the use of new tech­nolo­gies, par­tic­u­larly in com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“New tech­nolo­gies could be a great con­trib­u­tor to in­te­gra­tion be­cause, for in­stance, now you can talk to each other with­out be­ing sep­a­rated by space or time,” he said.

“For ex­am­ple, busi­ness through In­ter­net is grow­ing very fast. Even peo­ple in the vil­lages can now mar­ket their prod­ucts through­out the re­gion and through­out the world. Even small busi­nesses sud­denly be­come very big if you learn to make use of good com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the In­ter­net,” he added.

Asean mem­ber- states are cur­rently pur­su­ing reg­u­la­tory re­forms to fur­ther build the Asean Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity, which was es­tab­lished in 2015.


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