Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad emphasised today that it was not Malaysia’s role to promote China’s Belt-Road Initiative, amid the controversy of a propaganda comic with that aim produced by former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau.
The prime minister said the country’s rejection of foreign influence was not only limited to Western countries.
“At the moment, it is not for us to promote China’s ideas and ideologies but to find out how we can benefit from them.
“As much as we didn’t like Western influence in our strategies and schools, we don’t want other countries to have undue influence on our young people,” he said during the forum session of the Malaysian Beyond 2020 conference at Hilton Kuala Lumpur today.
Last week, critics revealed that the comic titled Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism edited by Hew and produced by the Asia Comic Culture Museum, where he is a curator, was being distributed to secondary schools in the country.
The comic parroted the Communist Party of China’s political views and controversially described as extremists the Malays who believed in the alleged mistreatment of the Uighur Muslim minority.
After photographs emerged online of Dr Mahathir presenting the comic to China President Xi Jinping during a visit last year, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement disavowing the comic and its contents.
The Education Ministry has said the distribution of the comic to schools was unapproved while the Home Ministry has also said it will investigate.
While leaders of DAP have sought to distance themselves from former member Hew, 43 of the party’s members and lawmakers have spoken up in his defence.
After Pakatan Harapan won the general election last year, Hew was also appointed the chief executive officer of the Malaysia-China Business Council that is headed by DAP chairman Tan Kok Wai.