Saturday October 26, 2002

Malaysia deputy PM a chip off the anti-globalisation block

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has fired a new shot in the lonely anti-globalisation battle long waged by his boss Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Abdullah, who is expected to succeed Mahathir in October next year, marked his debut at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum by on Friday aiming a salvo at International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"Globalisation is not the universal and unmitigated good that it was once portrayed to be," said Abdullah, who is also minister of home affairs, in a speech ahead of the APEC leaders summit which begins on Saturday.
"A one-size-fits-all strategy of the kind dogmatically adopted by the IMF in particular should be avoided, for it has proven to be particularly damaging," said Abdullah.
"Malaysia does not believe in the prevailing orthodoxy of the Washington consensus and the IMF," the 62-year-old deputy premier said.
"We should not use ailing institutions to heal sick economies," he said.
"Malaysia advocates a policy of 'prosper the neighbor.' Such an approach benefits all in the long run," he said. "Economic problems cannot be solved by economics alone, as the damage caused by IMF remedies has proven."
Mahathir has frequently used global trade and economic conferences to lambast global financial institutions, and what he sees as the inequity of the increasingly interconnected world financial system.
In Geneva in June, the veteran Malaysian leader said he supported globalisation, but warned it had created a situation where "some countries are filthy rich and some are church-mouse poor."
Sounding every bit a chip off the old block, Abdullah said Friday that globalisation was leaving "too many countries and too many people behind."
Malaysia has also been "a victim of the excesses of globalisation," Abdullah said, adding: "It has been exposed to cyclical volatility in the international markets."
Abdullah claimed another financial crisis may strike the region if the Bretton Woods regime formed by IMF and World Bank continues.
"Another financial crisis can wreak havoc on countries," Abdullah said. "There is no guarantee that such turmoil will not recur in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis."
He warned that the IMF must at least boost transparency and carry out structural reforms.
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