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Oleh/By		:	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue 	: 	KUCHING, SARAWAK 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	16/02/90 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE EIGHTH 
			ASEAN-EC MINISTERIAL MEETING 




 Excellencies;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
    I  would  like to begin by welcoming you and members of
your delegation to Malaysia.   I am pleased  that  we  could
host  this meeting in Kuching as it would give you an oppor-
tunity to see something of the rich cultural and  ecological
diversity  of Malaysia.  I know that the State Government of
Sarawak has gone to great lengths to ensure that  your  stay
here will be both productive and pleasant.
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
2.   We  meet here at a momentous time in the history of the
world.  In the Asia-Pacific region  we  are  witnessing  the
dawn  of  the  Pacific Age with high growth rates, expanding
economies and greater regional economic cooperation.   Japan
has  become  an  economic superpower in its own right and is
set to chart a global political course of its own.
3.   The United  States,  long  the  main  engine  of  world
growth,  is  facing  serious economic challenges.   Its free
trade agreement with Canada however has created a major  new
trading  bloc  with  all the implications that trading blocs
have.
4.   In Europe, the European  Community  is  gearing  up  to
realise Project 1992, the single European market.  Close co-
operation between the EC and EFTA is also in the offing.
5.   In  the Soviet Union, 'perestroika' and 'glasnost' con-
tinue to initiate changes that would have been  unimaginable
only  months  ago.    Even  more unthinkable are the radical
changes occurring in Eastern  Europe  as  a  result  of  the
Soviet decision not to prop up the Communist Governments.
6.   Since we meet within the context of an ASEAN-EC forum I
would  like  to confine my remarks principally to the impact
of these changes on our mutual relationship.  The  momentous
changes  that  are taking place are going to affect ASEAN-EC
relations.  If we value our relations, if we see it as  mak-
ing  an important contribution to global stability and pros-
perity  then  we  must  seek  to  ensure  that  the  changes
confronting us work to strengthen our relations.
7.   Undoubtedly  the EC will enter the 90s with an enhanced
economic and political role.   It is going  to  emerge  from
Project  1992  as  the  most powerful economic and political
grouping.
8.   A reinvigorated and resurgent Europe  has  implications
for ASEAN and the rest of the world.  Will the establishment
of  an internal market and other integrative measures mean a
more inward looking EC, content on trading within itself and
the European Economic Space which  would  include  the  EFTA
countries?    In  1987, for example, 60% of total EC exports
went to the EC countries and if EFTA is included, EC exports
to European destinations was as high as 70%.  The  potential
is  there for an inward looking and less open trading group.
If we add Eastern Europe as well, the EC might well do with-
out the rest of the world.
9.   While the EC may consider the ASEAN area as  an  impor-
tant investment centre and the establishment of the EC joint
investment committees in each ASEAN capital attests to that,
the  attitude  of  the investors is somewhat different.  De-
spite the very attractive packages and incentives offered by
ASEAN countries, European investors still have a  preference
for the industrialised nations in the EC, and North America.
After  1992  they  might even be more disinclined to venture
outwards to ASEAN and seek instead the advantages of a homo-
geneous and enlarged market.  This is an aspect which I hope
you will take up at this meeting bearing in  mind  the  high
priority  accorded  to  closer industrial cooperation at the
Seventh ASEAN-EC Ministerial Meeting in  Dusseldorf  in  May
1989.
10.  ASEAN's concern about developments in the internal mar-
ket are real because not only is the EC a significant source
for  development funding, it is also the third largest trad-
ing partner of ASEAN after Japan and the US.  In 1987 the EC
accounted for 13% of  ASEAN's  global  exports  and  14%  of
ASEAN's global imports.
11.  How  would this trade be affected come 1992?  There may
be a free flow of goods, people, services and capital within
the community and a conducive atmosphere for healthy  growth
and  competition.    But  for those outside the EC they will
have to adjust to a whole new  set  of  policies  and  regu-
lations  on  banking, trading and public procurement.  While
efforts are being made by the EC to provide  more  transpar-
ency  to  what  is taking place, it will be some time before
our business and trading community will fully comprehend and
familiarise itself with the new business environment.
12.  Furthermore all decisions on the regulatory aspects  of
trade  are  being taken without any discussion with the EC's
trading partners.  Hence it is natural that there be  appre-
hension as to whether we would still be facing national quo-
tas  and under what conditions and whether our products will
continue to have market access to the EC.  We hear that  GSP
provisions  will  be  done  away  with  in  favour of common
tariffs for all imports.
13.  There is obviously an 'information gap' here which both
ASEAN and the EC have tried to fill by organising  colloqui-
ums, seminars and meetings.  However, project 1992 is an im-
mense and complex enterprise.  More contacts between the two
sides  are necessary particularly in assisting our exporters
who would be most affected by the changes.
14.  There also appears to be a  'consistency  gap'  between
the   EC's   position   as  a  leading  proponent  of  trade
liberalisation and multilateralism, on  the  one  hand,  and
what it does to further the cause of these principles on the
other.    It is necessary for the EC to demonstrate that the
principles of free trade and competition do not  stop  short
at its borders but will be applicable to all in a fair, just
and equitable manner.
15.  Nowhere  is  the  application  of these principles more
relevant than in the current Uruguay Round of the  Multilat-
eral Trade Negotiations which seem to be stalled in the var-
ious  groups  on tariffs, tropical products and agriculture.
Many of the issues which  are  being  dealt  with  in  these
groups are of vital importance to ASEAN and other developing
countries.   We would like the EC to show the political will
necessary to get the negotiations moving towards a  success-
ful outcome.
16.  I  hope this meeting here in Kuching will help reassure
us that far from being 'Fortress Europe'  the  EC  will  not
only  maintain  but  strengthen its relations with ASEAN and
will play an active role in support of the open multilateral
trading system.
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
17.  In rapid succession the communist  regimes  of  Eastern
Europe  have  collapsed  under  the  pressure of mass demon-
strations and mass dissatisfaction.  The people  of  Eastern
Europe  are  now  enthusiastically pursuing their goals of a
more democratic and prosperous society.
18.  As a democratic  and  free-enterprise  nation  Malaysia
welcomes  the  recent changes in Eastern Europe.  We welcome
the changes because it will also enhance both  European  and
global  security and stability.  In addition it will provide
new opportunities for trade  and  economic  cooperation  for
all.
19.  Eastern  Europe  however  still  faces  many challenges
ahead.  Eastern Europe is going to need a lot  of  help  and
support.   Malaysia and ASEAN will not grudge Eastern Europe
this support.  Indeed, we too would like to  assist  Eastern
Europe in whatever way we can.
20.  Developments  in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe
have already had a positive effect on the  Asia-Pacific  re-
gion.    Both  Soviet and US forces are being reduced.  This
improvement in the overall politico-strategic situation will
in turn offer ASEAN new regional opportunities to pursue our
long-cherished goal of a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutral-
ity or ZOPFAN and allow for an even greater  focus  on  eco-
nomic development.
21.  But  like  you,  we  also  have our fears and concerns.
Fears have been expressed that large scale  Western  assist-
ance  to  Eastern Europe will be at the expense of other de-
veloping countries.  In raising this issue here  I  want  to
emphasize  that  I  am  not  making a plea for assistance to
ASEAN per se.  I plead rather for the many Third World coun-
tries who are facing serious economic and  social  difficul-
ties.    I  think  we  all  accept  the  fact  that economic
development is a vital factor in promoting peace and stabil-
ity.
22.  The question in our mind is whether Eastern Europe will
now draw away the already sparse inflow of European  invest-
ments  into  Southeast  Asia.   Despite assurances that more
would be done to encourage  greater  investments  in  ASEAN,
European investments continue to lag behind those from other
regions.
23.  In  the area of trade the situation is equally less re-
assuring.  It would be disastrous for us if a combination of
the 1992 Single Market and special  trading  privileges  for
Eastern  Europe  lead  to diminished market access for ASEAN
exports.
24.  Western Europe has therefore a unique and historic  op-
portunity not just to mould the future of Eastern Europe but
also the future of the world as well.  You can create oppor-
tunities  for  ASEAN countries, and others, to join with you
in the reconstruction and development of Eastern Europe  and
indeed of other regions as well.  You can also help to bring
together  businessmen and business opportunities in a three-
way link-up  between  Western  Europe,  Eastern  Europe  and
ASEAN.   You can also help by ensuring that your single mar-
ket, will lead to greater international cooperation  and  to
an  upsurge of international trade that will benefit all na-
tions.  Peace and progress in Europe cannot be pursued sepa-
rately from peace and progress elsewhere in the world.
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
25.  Let me now take up some issues  nearer  home.    We  in
Malaysia  view with great concern the campaign currently be-
ing waged against us on the issue of tropical  rain-forests.
We  have  seen how these campaigns have resulted in the boy-
cott of tropical timber in some EC countries.
26.  We recognise that there are many organisations,  groups
and  individuals who are genuinely concerned about the envi-
ronment.  However, there are those who are bent on  carrying
out  their  campaigns based on sentiments and irrationality.
And when they have the ears of political parties  either  in
power  or in the opposition, biased policies emerge.  Action
is often taken against us not because it is deemed right but
because it is popular.  While this may  be  a  vote-catching
issue  for some, for us in the developing countries, it is a
matter of economic survival.
27.  The timber industry plays  an  important  role  in  the
Malaysian   economy.     In  1988  it  constituted  5.1%  of
Malaysia's total export earnings and gave direct  employment
to  162,000 people.  There is every indication that the tim-
ber industry is poised to make a bigger contribution to  the
economy  as  we concentrate on value-added products, partic-
ularly furniture-making.  Industrialised countries could as-
sist us in these efforts by lowering their protective  walls
currently  in  place against such manufactured products.  At
the moment, the tariff barriers  in  some  countries  favour
sawn timber and logs against finished higher value products.
The    irony   is   that   this   not   only   retards   our
industrialisation process but it also encourages more  trees
to  be felled.  If the environmentalists are truly concerned
they should encourage relocation of timber-based  industries
into  the  timber producing countries.   That way employment
and foreign exchange earnings will be  sustained  with  less
timber  felling.  A boycott of tropical timber may result in
the clearing of more forest land for agriculture and  devel-
opment.
28.  The  ASEAN countries collectively have over 170 million
hectares of tropical forests.   This  represents  more  than
half  of  the  total  land area of ASEAN.   In Malaysia, our
tropical rainforests cover about 20 million hectares, out of
a total land area of 33 million hectares, or about 61%.   If
you  take  into  account tree crops such as rubber, oil palm
and cocoa, the area under forest and tree crops comes up  to
nearly  74%  of  the total area.   Considering that nearly a
hundred years have passed since we  first  started  clearing
our jungles to make way for plantation agriculture, you will
appreciate  that far from indiscriminately clearing our for-
ests as alleged, much care and planning have gone into  man-
aging  our  forests.   Long before it became fashionable for
those in the West to espouse the cause of  the  rainforests,
we in Malaysia were already actively engaged in managing our
forest  resources and in preserving our wildlife and biolog-
ical diversity.
29.  What we would now like to see is the  discussion  being
carried to a more constructive level so that the focus is on
joint efforts by both the developed and the developing coun-
tries to protect the environment while pursuing the twin ob-
jectives  of  economic  growth  and sustainable development.
The Langkawi Declaration adopted by the  Commonwealth  Heads
of Government Meeting in Kuala Lumpur recently, could form a
useful basis for such action by both ASEAN and the EC.
30.  And  now let me touch briefly on the so-called issue of
the Penan about which  two  resolutions  have  already  been
adopted  by the European Parliament.  You could not have met
at a more appropriate place to know more about this matter.
31.  For now, let me emphasise one point clearly:  we do not
intend to turn the Penan into "human  zoological  specimens"
to  be  gawked at by tourists and studied by anthropologists
while the rest of the world passes them by.   The  Penan  in
question number about 900 out of a total Penan population of
about  9,000  in Sarawak.   Whilst the majority of them have
successfully  settled,  the  remainder  are  still   leading
nomadic lives in the jungle.  It is our policy to eventually
bring  all  jungle  dwellers  into the mainstream of the na-
tion's life.  There is nothing romantic  about  these  help-
less,  half-starved  and  disease-ridden  people and we will
make no apologies for endeavouring to  uplift  their  living
conditions.   I hope during your stay in Sarawak you will be
able to appreciate the situation better.
32.  You also have the question of drugs on your agenda  and
rightly  so.    ASEAN-EC cooperation is an essential part of
the international effort to combat drug  abuse  and  illicit
trafficking.    Malaysia, on its part, has adopted a mixture
of harsh measures against traffickers and mandatory rehabil-
itation for drug users to meet this challenge head on.  As a
result the spread of drug abuse here is much  less  than  in
the  more tolerant countries, where the spread of drug abuse
is much more and with greater speed.  There must be  no  let
up in our war on drug abuse.
33.  It  is  heartening  to note that countries have pledged
their political support for more intensified cooperation  on
all fronts.  The 1987 International Conference on Drug Abuse
and  Illicit  Trafficking  in  Vienna  laid that foundation.
Hopefully, the UN  General  Assembly's  Special  Session  On
Drugs  which is to be held in a few days time will carry the
fight forward for a concerted programme of action  involving
both  the producer and consumer countries.  ASEAN-EC cooper-
ation  on  this  issue  must  also  move  forward.      Drug
traffickers  must  know that we are determined to leave them
no place to thrive or to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
34.  Recent initiatives on the Cambodian issue have given us
fresh hope for progress  in  finding  a  peaceful  political
settlement.    The  central point in these initiatives is an
enhanced United Nations role in Cambodia.   The decision  of
the  five permanent members of the UN Security Council to be
collectively and directly seized of the matter is  certainly
significant.   The Australian proposal can also form the ba-
sis in our search for a political settlement.  I welcome the
convening of the Informal Meeting on Cambodia in Jakarta  at
the  end of this month.  Malaysia will contribute positively
to this peace process.
35.  While our attention is  focussed  on  the  developments
concerning  Cambodia we must not marginalise the  problem of
the Vietnamese boat people.  For 14 years Malaysia and other
South  East  Asian countries have for humanitarian consider-
ations accorded temporary refuge to the Vietnamese boat peo-
ple.  Increasingly, this asylum facility is being abused  by
Vietnamese  seeking  a  better  life  in  Western countries.
Their continuing influx has exerted  unacceptable  pressures
on  our social and political fabric.  Malaysia believes that
a durable solution to this problem is obtainable in the Com-
prehensive Plan of Action (CPA) provided all its aspects are
implemented in totality and simultaneously.   We cannot  ac-
cept being singled out to shoulder the burden.  In the first
instance  we  were  not,  even  indirectly, the cause of the
problem.   It is therefore incumbent  on  the  international
community  and  particularly those adopting high moral posi-
tions to ensure the full and immediate implementation of the
CPA.
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
36.  You have a full agenda ahead of you.    All  of  us  in
ASEAN  look  forward to exchanging views with you on the im-
portant issues before both our regional groupings.  Now,  it
gives  me  great pleasure to officially declare this meeting
open.  May you have a good meeting and a memorable  stay  in
Malaysia.
     Thank you.

 
 



 
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