Malaysian Trade Freeze: Malaysia ban focuses on 'Sunday Times': Major says embargo is unjustified but Britain told it will only be lifted if newspaper apologises for bribe allegation
Thursday 03 March 1994
Anwar Ibrahim told a press conference that the freeze would stay forever, 'unless the Sunday Times withdraws the article'.
John Major yesterday hit out at Malaysia's decision not to award new contracts to British companies. He said its behaviour was not justified and accused it of short- sightedness, adding that it owed much of its economic development to British trade and investment.
The Prime Minister, asked if he would consider retaliation against Malaysia, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I don't believe that what the Malaysian government has done to British companies is remotely justified.'
He said the fact that Malaysia was 'within striking distance' of achieving its ambition to become an industrialised country over the next two decades or so was due 'not least' to British companies' investment and trade.
'I believe it is short sighted to have acted as they have done, and I believe that over time they may be seen to have damaged the Malaysian interest as much as the British,' he added.
Mr Anwar emphasised the Malaysian government's commitment to last week's decision. But he stressed that it only applied to public-sector contracts - educational programmes and purely private-sector deals were not affected.
Articles in the British press since the embargo was announced claiming that Malaysia puts critical journalists in prison, that Dr Mahathir was racist and motivated by revenge because Britain once refused him a place to study law, had only inflamed the situation, he said.
Mr Anwar said he expected no retaliation from Britain. He added that the government was disappointed Mr Major had not done enough to clarify the Pergau dam affair. He said as far as Malayasia was concerned, aid for the dam was not linked to purchases of arms.
This contradicts the British government's admission that the aid was originally linked to arms and the view of those close to the negotiations who remember the Malaysians constantly referring to the two subjects in the same breath.
The Deputy Prime Minister confirmed that Rupert Murdoch, publisher of the Sunday Times, was the focus of the ban. Dr Mahathir has voiced his serious concern at Mr Murdoch's purchase last autumn of Star TV, the Hongkong-based satellite station that beams across Asia. 'This is how Mr Murdoch chose to respond,' claimed Mr Anwar.
He maintained that the construction contract in the Sunday Times article for which Dr Mahathir is supposed to have taken a bribe was non-existent. 'The article could not be defended,' he said. Dr Mahathir, he added, had better things to do than sue a newspaper in London.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir told reporters that Malaysia had no quarrel with Britain 'but with press freedom in that country'. He stated that British aid was aimed at helping British companies secure contracts and not at assisting Malaysia.
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Bakery sends 'horrific' version of Frozen-themed birthday cake to unsuspecting customer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...