Speechs in the year
Tarikh/Date 	: 	04/03/91 

Distinguished Participants;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
    I would like to thank the organisers for inviting me to
address  this  crucial conference.  It is crucial because we
meet at a time when  the  international  situation  is  more
fluid than at any time since the Second World War.
2.   Despite the Age of Confrontation and Cold War being be-
hind  us  we  still  do not seem to know where we are going.
Our future history is very much in the making with no  clear
indication as to the direction it will take.
3.   At  this  crucial  turning  point,  the course that the
states of Asean must take cannot just be to let others shape
that history.  We cannot be mere  objects  of  international
relations.   With the "East" in turmoil, the "South" in con-
tinuing crisis, and the  "West"  on  an  economic  collision
course,  an  active  Asean can contribute positively.  It is
incumbent upon us to play a productive role in the making of
the new international economic order.
4.   This is a time, therefore, for the most creative  Asean
initiatives for a productive peace.  Our joint collaboration
must  go  beyond  our Asean sub-region, beyond the region of
Southeast Asia, beyond East Asia, even  beyond  the  Pacific
5.   We must of course be aware of our limited weight in the
international  arena.    There is every reason for humility.
But the corruption arising from a sense of powerlessness  is
as bad as the corruption of power.
6.   If  we  do not in our own modest ways try to shape his-
tory, then we must not bemoan our fate later.
7.   In the last two generations, too much of  the  creative
energies  and resources of the world were diverted from pos-
sible cooperation to deadly East  West  confrontation,  from
the  task of enhancing the prosperity of the world's peoples
to the pursuit of national security imperatives.   Too  much
of the world's resources were diverted to conflict, diverted
away from the demands of development.
8.   We  have  seen  the  spread of democracy and democratic
tendencies,  most  spectacularly,  of  course,  in   Eastern
Europe.    Democracy  may  mean  freedom  from political op-
pression but not necessarily from economic and developmental
oppression.  The proponents of democracy are not  averse  to
international dictatorship.
9.   The  process of turning battlefields into market-places
is continuing apace.
10.  Throughout the world, most dramatically  of  course  in
what  was once called the Socialist Bloc, we see a swing to-
wards the free-enterprise system.  The collapse of Communism
as an ideology and the command economy as an economic method
and the turn towards the market system, can  contribute  to-
wards  higher productivity nationally and greater prosperity
for the entire global economic system.
11.  But at the same time, we would be extremely foolish not
to be fully aware of the negative side of the equation.
12.  There is today an  economic  recession  in  the  United
States,  Canada,  Australia,  New  Zealand  and  the  United
Kingdom  democracy  and  the  free  market  notwithstanding.
Japan  and Germany have slowed down.  In the 1960s, the OECD
countries, on which so much of Asean's economic  performance
is  hinged, grew by an annual average of 5 per cent.  In the
1970s, they grew on average by 3.1 per cent a year;  in  the
1980s by an average of 2.9 per cent.  Whereas there is every
hope that the recession economies will not be down for long,
we  would  be  foolish to predicate our future on a vigorous
and fast growing world economy.
13.  In the 1990s we must also expect international trade to
grow at a less than robust rate.  This again will be no sur-
prise given that in the 1960s world trade grew  annually  by
an average of 8 per cent, in the 1970s by 6 per cent, in the
1980s by 4.4 per cent.
14.  A  less  than  vigorous  trade  growth  regime  in  the
forseeable future should also be no great surprise given the
rise of protectionism and managed trade,  the  movement  to-
wards  trade  blocs,  and  the general erosion of the global
trading system.  We can only hope that GATT will not in  the
end  stand  for  a general agreement to talk and talk and no
more than that.
15.  Real commodity  prices  will  continue  their  downward
trend  and will offer no relief to heavily-indebted develop-
ing countries that are still dependent on the exports of ag-
ricultural and other raw materials.  The global debt  crisis
too will not go away.
16.  There  is  a  danger of a global credit squeeze arising
out of the diversion of German financial flows to the  east-
ern  part  of  Germany  and Eastern Europe, the reduced sur-
pluses of Japan, the sustained high deficits of  the  United
States,  the problems of the banking and financial system in
Japan, the United States and elsewhere, and  the  investment
of Japanese surpluses increasingly in their own domestic de-
17.  There  are a host of problems for the world arising out
of the structural weaknesses of the world's biggest  economy
and  biggest  debtor nation, the United States.  We now live
in a world where the developing countries  are  deprived  of
the  past  leverage of "defection to the other side".  There
is the sole American giant, with immense  problems  at  home
and  no  longer  driven  by  the imperatives of the Cold War
abroad.   We must surely  expect  a  more  demanding  United
States,  desirous  of  greater  "help" and "adjustment" from
18.  We see a situation today of a dramatic rise in the pol-
itical, diplomatic and military clout of the US and a severe
erosion in its economic position and welfare.  We can expect
the application of that enhanced political,  diplomatic  and
military  clout to shore up the economic position and to en-
hance the US economic welfare.  The increased pressures will
be political and social as well as economic.   Military  ad-
ventures cannot be excluded.
19.  We  cannot rightly expect the clash of the economic gi-
ants -- the United States, Japan and the European  Community
-- to attenuate.  We should expect it to escalate, making it
incumbent  upon  us to make sure that we are not squeezed in
the middle, and caught in the cross-fire.
20.  We should take into our calculations the possibility of
greater Eurocentricism, and a  greater  EC  to  include  the
Eastern  European countries.   We must expect continuing and
serious instability in  the  previously  tightly  controlled
states of the Soviet Socialist Republics and Eastern Europe.
Ladies and gentlemen,
21.  This  rough  balance  sheet of longer-term positive and
negative fundamentals and uncertainties reminds  me  of  the
very  first paragraph of Charles Dickens' historic novel, "A
Tale of Two Cities".   Let me quote  the  entire  paragraph,
written  in  one  long  sentence,  to describe the Europe of
1775.  Dickens wrote of that period:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going
direct the other way -- in short, the period was so far
like the present, that some of its noisiest authorities
insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the
superlative degree of comparison only".
22.  I believe that what Dickens wrote of the Europe of 1775
is superlatively apt in describing our world  of  the  early
1990s.    It  is  indeed  the best of times and the worst of
times.   It is indeed the age  of  wisdom  and  the  age  of
foolishness.  It is indeed the epoch of belief and the epoch
of  incredulity.    It is indeed the season of Light and the
season of Darkness.  It is indeed the spring of hope and the
winter of despair.  We do indeed have everything  before  us
and nothing before us.
23.  In  the  case of Europe after 1775, there was an era of
turmoil and devastation, culminating in the Napoleonic Wars.
Order was only restored  with  the  Congress  of  Vienna  of
24.  Our  world  today cannot afford two generations of tur-
moil.  And Asean must contribute to the collaborative peace,
through balanced economic development worldwide.
25.  Globally there is a chance for  a  more  effective  and
productive  United Nations.   Asean should act in concert to
ensure that the United Nations develops into an  even-handed
global  authority, the conscience of all mankind and protec-
tor of the weak against the aggression of the  strong.    We
should work together to make sure that the United Nations is
re-invigorated  and  will  serve to deny Thucydide's Conclu-
sion: "that in the affairs of states, the strong will demand
what they will and the weak must yield what they must".
26.  The Asean countries and many developing  nations  which
are  so dependent on an open trading system -- much more de-
pendent than any of the great trading nations such as Japan,
Germany and the United States -- must make the  GATT  system
work.    The tide of protectionism must be halted and rolled
back.   The movement towards  mercantilist,  inward-looking,
and  "the rest of the world be damned" trading blocs must be
reversed.  The trend towards managed trade, bilateralism and
unilateralism, must be stopped dead in its  tracks.    Asean
must  help  to secure the open trading system that will save
not just ourselves but  the  very  nations  which  are  busy
erecting trade barriers.
27.  However before Asean can hope to influence the economic
course  of  the  world, we must strengthen Asean itself, all
the three parts of Asean.   We  must  strengthen  the  Asean
Peace,  the Asean Concert and the web of economic and social
relationship between us in the Asean Community.
28.  First, the Pax ASEANA which we have  successfully  con-
structed  since  the  mid-Sixties  must  not  be  taken  for
granted.  It has been one of  the  great  successes  of  the
post-war  world,  the  more remarkable because it has been a
Pax without an Imperium.  The statesmenship of the  founding
fathers  will  be prominently recorded in the history of the
region.  The leadership of Asean will  be  required  in  the
days  ahead to strengthen the Asean Peace.  We would be very
foolish to take for granted the structure of  understanding,
mutual  respect,  trust  and  goodwill  that has been estab-
lished.  The Asean Peace must be an active peace, which must
be in constant upkeep, and in perpetual construction.
29.  Second, the Asean Concert, our joining of hands to deal
with the outside world.  The wide agenda  for  Asean  initi-
ative cannot be actualised without a substantial strengthen-
ing  of  the  Asean  Concert  in  the  days  ahead, when the
"Cambodia cement" and the defensive  anti-Communist  impulse
will recede further into history.
30.  Third, we must indeed launch bold and innovative initi-
atives  with regard to enhancing the level of economic coop-
eration between us.  We should aspire to achieve a level  of
performance  on the economic front that we have secured with
regard to our political and diplomatic cooperation.
31.  There is now a clear Asean consensus on the strengthen-
ing of the Asean Secretariat, to enable it to respond to the
challenge of internal cooperation and the challenges of  ex-
ternal  action in the 1990s.  We must quickly turn consensus
into concrete reality.
32.  Much will have to be done at the  Fourth  Asean  Summit
that  will  be  held in Singapore.  And much will need to be
accomplished in the run-up to the Summit.   With  regard  to
this,  I believe it is time for Asean to consider a new ele-
ment, an Asean Informal Meeting  of  Heads  of  State  which
should  meet  regularly  in  a  relaxed ambience between the
formal Summit Meetings.   Such an informal  gathering,  away
from  the  cameras and the pressure to produce some dramatic
out-come, held for the purpose of  merely  exchanging  views
and  perspectives and keeping in close touch, would contrib-
ute to the process of ensuring fullest consultation  between
us.    This should be over and above the bilateral meetings.
I believe that it cannot be stressed enough that we of Asean
at all levels must be engaged in a constant process of  can-
did consultation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
33.  Let  me now turn to a broader geographical canvas: what
Asean should now be  actively  considering  with  regard  to
Southeast  Asia.   International relations in Southeast Asia
has moved from a situation of warm war to cold war.  We have
now progressed to a cold peace.  It is time to move our  re-
lationship towards a cooperative peace.
34.  The  time  has come for Asean to prepare for the making
of a new Southeast Asia.  Asean must move forward  with  the
creative and comprehensive engagement of the other states of
the region.
35.  Southeast Asia should no longer be at sixes and threes.
The  mountain  of  distrust and misunderstanding must be re-
moved.  A divided region is not in the interest of  any  re-
gional  state.    It  is in the interest of all of Southeast
Asia that we secure a system composed of  states  which  are
economically prosperous, socially dynamic, strategically se-
cure,  domestically  at  peace  and politically unpolarised.
The Asean states should act now to hammer out the acceptable
modalities and the most appropriate mechanisms.
36.  In 1967, we together launched the first act of regional
reconciliation.  The outcome was Asean.
37.  We must now stand ready to launch the second  phase  of
regional  reconciliation, to achieve the objective Asean set
out from the moment of its birth: the creation of  a  South-
east  Asian  system  of  states  that are at peace with each
other, involved in a dynamic and vigorous economic and poli-
tical relationship of mutual respect and mutually beneficial
38.  Asean now already has the Bali "Treaty of Amity and Co-
operation in Southeast Asia" which sets out the  fundamental
precepts for political, economic, social, technical and sci-
entific  cooperation  between us.  Papua New Guinea, amongst
the non-members of Asean, has acceded to the Treaty.   Asean
should  now  welcome  any initiative taken by any of the re-
gional states to accede to this admirable and  comprehensive
39.  The idea of inviting initially the foreign ministers of
Vietnam,  Laos and Myanmar to a dialogue with the Asean For-
eign Ministers, and the Heads of Government of  these  coun-
tries  to  a dialogue at the next Asean Summit has also been
put forward.  These are suggestions that should be given se-
rious study.  In the meantime, let me inform  you  that  the
Government of Malaysia encourages the fullest private sector
participation  in  the  economies of the non-Asean states of
Southeast  Asia.    Southeast  Asia  is  now  no  longer   a
battleground.   Let us proceed as fast as we possibly can to
turn it into one prosperous marketplace.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
40.  Let me now turn to the proposal for an East  Asia  Eco-
nomic Group (EAEG).
41.  In  the  first place let me emphasise that the Group is
not  intended  to  be  a  trade  bloc.    Regional  economic
groupings   are   acknowledged   as   legitimate  means  for
neighbours in a region to improve their economic well-being.
Accordingly preferential treatment and the removal of  trade
barriers within a group are legitimate and proper.
42.  But  a  grouping  becomes  a trade bloc when the member
states are no longer allowed to negotiate trading  terms  on
their own with nations outside the group.  The European Com-
munity  claims  that  it is not a trade bloc but the fact is
that even now import quotas and preferential  treatment  are
based  not on the requirement of individual member countries
but on the EC as a whole.  In 1992 this will  be  formalised
and  there  is  justifiable  fear  that trade between the EC
countries will be classified as domestic with all that  that
implies and quotas will be fixed for imports from outside of
Europe,  quotas designed to protect the industries and agri-
cultural produce of Europe as a whole.
43.  The United States for its part has entered into a  free
trade  union  with  Canada and will shortly do the same with
Mexico.  The United States declared objective is to make the
whole of North, Central and South America a single  economic
grouping.   The degree of exclusivity in trade that will re-
sult from this grouping is as yet a  matter  of  speculation
but such a grouping cannot but be protectionist to a degree.
44.  The  countries  of Europe and America have a reputation
for economic arm twisting, though not always by Governments.
Thus "human rights" records, trade unionism, exchange rates,
media treatment, environment protection,  "democratic  prac-
tices", quality and health standards and a host of other is-
sues  are used for the suppression of the economic growth of
potential competitors.   The action taken  against  the  so-
called  NICs  are illustrative of this.  Alone and bereft of
friendly support, these countries are not in a  position  to
even  protest.    Indeed open protest might invite even more
severe punitive pressures.
45.  It is paradoxical that even as  the  centrally  planned
Eastern  bloc economies espouse the free market systems as a
solution to their economic problem, the erstwhile free trad-
ers of the west are opting for  a  controlled  international
marketing  system.   But the fact is that with the formation
of the European Union and the American  free  trading  zone,
that is what is happening.
46.  The  question is what do we in this region do to rescue
the free trading system of the world?  Do we refuse  to  ac-
knowledge  the  gloomy facts?   Do we hush up things?  Do we
look the other way?  Do we accept them  without  a  whimper?
Or  do  we  confront them; the reality of those trade blocs,
that is, not the nations.
47.  Two wrongs do not make one right.  We in East Asia must
not form a trading bloc of our own.  But we know that  alone
and  singly  we cannot stop the slide towards controlled and
regulated international commerce; which in fact is  no  dif-
ferent  from the command economies of the socialist soviets,
only the scale is international; which is obviously going to
replace free trade if the EC and the American Union are  al-
lowed  to  rewrite the rules.  To stop the slide and to pre-
serve free trade the countries of East Asia,  which  contain
some  of the most dynamic economies in the world today, must
at least speak with one voice.
48.  It will be impossible to do this unless we can  consult
each  other,  unless we can have some form of grouping which
is recognisable.  A free trade arrangement between us is im-
possible at this point in time.  There is too much disparity
in our development.  An Economic Community after the EC pat-
tern is far too structured and is well  nigh  impossible  to
achieve.   But a formal grouping intended to facilitate con-
sultation and consensus prior to negotiating with Europe  or
America  or in multilateral fora such as the GATT is not too
far-fetched an idea.  It is also not against the GATT  prin-
ciple,  nor  will  it  run  contrary  to  membership in such
organisations as the APEC, in which the  United  States  and
Canada  are members while having an economic union with each
49.  Because of its market size alone, the EAEG will be lis-
tened to.  But it will also have the knowledge, the technol-
ogy and the skills which can become bargaining  counters  in
any trade off with the trading blocs of Europe and America.
50.  Membership  of the Group by developing countries should
serve to remind the other members of their responsibility to
the developing world.  A concerted effort can then  be  made
to  boost the economic growth of the weaker members, and in-
deed to help the developing world generally.
51.  The mere existence of the group, backed as it is by the
massive combined economic strength  of  the  members  should
help   to   retard   the   slide  towards  trade  blocs  and
protectionism.  At the same time the group can foster better
trade and development within the group.  Given a  dedication
towards  mutual  help,  the  Group  can  survive without the
constrictive structuring of a formal Economic Community.
52.  After the initial negativism following the  mooting  of
the Group, it is heartening that lately there have been more
positive  pronouncements  from Europe and America.  The mem-
bers of Asean now understand the EAEG  concept  and  support
it.   What remains is for us to formally propose the concept
to the East Asian nations outside of Asean.  This is a  task
for all Asean nations.
53.  I  am  sure that once it is understood that the EAEG is
principally concerned with trade and the maintenance of free
trade, that it does not compete with the Asean  group,  that
it is GATT and even APEC compatible, the fears regarding its
formation  and  its  role will disappear.  World trade would
benefit from EAEG rather than be stifled by it.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
54.  As I said at the beginning,  the  peace  dividend  that
should  come  with the ending of the East-West confrontation
is not with us yet.   Indeed the situation  is  very  fluid,
with  signs  of recession everywhere and new centres of ten-
sion and instability.
55.  In espousing democracy and free enterprise, nations are
finding that it is easier to declare the  intention,  or  to
overthrow  authoritarian regimes even, than to obtain tangi-
ble benefits from democratic freedom and the market economy.
56.  Peoples power is fine.   It can  remove  dictators  and
corrupt  Governments.   But power corrupts and peoples power
can be no less corrupting.  Once it is realised  that  poli-
tical power can be achieved through getting people on to the
streets,  the  potentially  corrupt  can also resort to this
weapon for their own ends.   Indeed, the  overthrow  of  the
corrupt  often results in the installation of another leader
who is or becomes equally corrupt.   It is easier  to  over-
throw  allegedly  corrupt  Government  than to materialise a
Government that can rehabilitate the nation.
57.  Democracy must not be an end in itself.  It must remain
a means to an end -- the installation of good Governments in
the true sense of the word.  Making a religion of democracy,
accepting   everything   that   is   done   in   its    name
unquestioningly  will only destroy the faith in the efficacy
of the system.  Forcing it down the throat of people who are
not ready for it will not do any good either.
58.  To succeed, democracy has to become a  culture  of  the
people.    Its  shortcomings must be recognised and accepted
and circumspection must be applied to it as with every  sys-
tem of Government.
59.  The end of the Cold War and East-West confrontation and
the  universal  acceptance  of the liberal democracy concept
are to be welcomed but the dividend can only come if we  ap-
preciate  the  need  to organise and arrange the system that
will replace confrontation.  There will be no dividend if in
the affairs of nations the Thucydide's Conclusion still  ap-
ply:  "that  the  strong  will demand what they will and the
weak must yield what they must".