In memory of millions of genocide victims worldwide, FORSEA is scheduled to release an hour-long videorecorded interview with the world’s oldest statesman and former two-times Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr Mahathir Mohamad. On 9 December 1948 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a binding inter-state treaty, and “Never Again!” became a moral clarion call against future atrocities.
The United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/69/323 of 29 September 2015, designated 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.
Last month, Dr Mahathir, who turned 98 this July, sat down with FORSEA Co-founder and Burmese dissident Dr Maung Zarni at Malaysia’s Perdana Leadership Foundation headquarters in Putrajaya to discuss the deeply troubling world affairs with deep roots in European colonialisms.
The interview was conducted amidst Israel’s ongoing atrocity crimes against the Palestinian people, including over 5,000 infants and children of Gaza, perpetrated under the Israeli banner of “Never again is now!”. It touched on the United Nations’ all-too-obvious failures to stop the genocidal occupation of the Palestine, and the anti-genocide rallies worldwide demanding the immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Dr Mahathir shared his un-paralleled and vivid historical memories of the British rule in Malaysia and European colonial apartheid, economic exploitation and atrocities worldwide.
Born during the inter-world wars years – in 1925 – in the then British Malaya, he is one of the few Malaysians who grew up and lived his formative years under the British colonial rule which n ended in 1957. His remarkable life in public service as the world’s oldest statesman runs parallels to the birth of Malaysia as a post-colonial state. In and out of the state’s highest office, Dr Mahathir has been a lifelong and principled supporter of the freedom for Palestinian people. Within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Dr Mahathir has long championed the cause of Rohingya people, the victims of Myanmar’s genocide.
The world’s oldest statesman offered his reflections on life under the British colonial rule, the birth of Malaysia as a colonial-era nation-state, various colonialist regimes across Asia, the systemic economic exploitation of non-European societies, the dehumanization and racial framing of the “subject peoples” outside Europe, the British policies of apartheid and colonial divide and rule in Malayu, and the economically driven colonial policies of mass labour import. He stressed the need for the type of education which inform the new generation of Malaysians (and others in the formerly colonized world) of their own past from the subaltern perspectives of the non-Europeans.
Despite being almost 100, Dr Mahathir remained lucid, deeply thoughtful, and eloquent throughout an hour-long interview. The interview contains nuggets of valuable insights for those with a keen interest in the devastating legacies of European colonialism, Orientalism, and the troubling state of world affairs.
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The interview was recorded by the production team at Kuala Lumpur-based Olive Studio. FORSEA thanks the following team members: Firdaus Sidek for camera, Ms Chin Pei Chi for sound and Nasrulhisham for post-production edits. Malaysian director, stand-up comedian and activist Hishamuddin Rais, also a FORSEA co-founder, served as the adviser in this production. Thanks are also due to Dr Mahathir’s team at the Perdana Leadership Foundation.