Mahathir’s Foreign Policy

Last Updated: 15 Feb 2021
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The Foreign Policy of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad during his premiership During eighties of last century, Malaysia was not widely known by the world. Only a few of politicians might hear about Malaysia not as an economic power, but as an agricultural country which is the main supplier of crude palm oil. This situation changed when Tun Dr. Mahathir became the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia who has changed how the world judges and treats Malaysia. Besides of Tun Dr. Mahathir’s enormous contribution on economic sector, in foreign affairs also Tun Dr. Mahathir was also a giant of the times during his premiership.

During his 22 years of premiership, he successfully transform Malaysia become one of the Tiger Cub Economies after Four Asian Tigers. As one of the important spokesman in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he aggressively promotes overall construction of ASEAN countries. This is a significant step to ensure the benefits of small countries are being protected by forming a unified action guideline when having disputes with great power. In order to against with European Union and Organization of American States, there is a need for Asia countries to form regional alliances to protect loose countries’ benefits.

This is what exactly the purpose of founding ASEAN. In spite of Tun Dr. Mahathir was not welcomed by western country during his premiership, yet his “Look East Policy” has inspired many Asia countries to learn from Japan and South Korea, not only blindly followed what western countries have done. This is highly related with Asian values, where it has catalyzed the progress of Look East Policy. In fact, Tun Dr. Mahathir did not neglect the influences of western country especially United States of America. He believe that USA is the main reason to ensure peaceful of Southeast Asia region, the deployment of the U.S. fleet in the Pacific is necessary yet at the same time he insist that no massive troops should be deployment at ASEAN. This is actually how Tun Dr. Mahathir weighs the influences of USA to benefit Malaysia and other ASEAN countries. Early in this century, as a sensible leader in Islamic world Tun Dr. Mahathir encourages the unity of Islamic world towards greater prosperity. He has been anti-state terrorism and anti-war all along his premiership and after Incident 911, he has suggested USA to set up a counterterrorism center in Malaysia.

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In issues of Israel and Jews, Tun Dr. Mahathir was a staunch supporter of Palestinian cause and he also named Israel as “the enemy allied with most powerful nations”. He condemns Israel who killed thousands of Muslims while some Jews are supporters to those killers. As a summary, the overall foreign policy under Tun Dr. Mahathir premiership is basically regional approach where most of his foreign policy is targeting prosperity of entire Southeast Asia. In spite many condemns from many people, yet Tun Dr. Mahathir still an excellence diplomat in heart of Malaysians.

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Mahathir’s Foreign Policy. (2017, Jan 21). Retrieved from

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