Dear Prime Minister Mahatir:
The graceful and magnificent Petronas Twin Towers is a famous Malaysian landmark. Let us first greet the distinguished Prime Minister!
It is an accomplishment for a person to live to 90 years old. It is exceptional for a 92-year-old leader to return to politics by gaining people’s trust. You are the world’s most senior Prime Minister. We very much admire your unyielding spirit of struggle for the prosperity of Malaysia. We are also very confident that you will always adhere to the ruling philosophy of maintaining good communication with your neighboring countries. That being the case, after being re-elected, you met with visiting Brunei Sultan Bolkiah and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. You once mentioned to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, “Our two countries face the same challenges, such as palm oil exports. Both countries are also subject to discrimination among European countries. We must unite and resist any discrimination.” You also wish to have an official visit to China in the near future (China extended an invitation as well). This is a very good wish that Asia, including China, is very much looking forward to! This could potentially strengthen bilateral friendly relations between the two countries, strengthen mutual assistance and create a win-win solution under the framework of the “Belt and Road”, set an example for other developing countries, and make new contributions to ASEAN countries!
There is an idiom in China that says “being close to and friendly with the neighbors is our national treasure.”
On 7th September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at Nazarbayev University mentioned about how the exchanges between China and Kazakhstan has been going on for 2000 years. And this proves that as long as both countries persist in unity, mutual trust, equality, tolerance, cooperation and mutual benefit, even countries of different races, faiths and cultural backgrounds can share peace and develop together. This is a precious revelation left to us by the ancient Silk Road.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sincerely stated in his congratulatory message that you are a senior politician in Malaysia, making positive contributions to the development of Malaysia and ASEAN countries, as well as for China-Malaysia relations and East Asian cooperation. Malaysia is a traditional friendly neighbor. A good momentum of development has been maintained through bilateral relations. China attaches great importance to China-Malaysia relations. We are willing to work with you to promote the steady development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries so to bring better benefits for both countries and their people.
Your Excellency, you are no stranger to China. You are an old friend of the Chinese people. You visited China in November 1985, June 1993, May 1994, August 1996 and August 1999. In addition, you visited China at the end of February 2001 to participate in the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), visited Shanghai in October 2001 to participate in the 9th Informal Leadership Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Do you remember? At about 5 pm on 6th June 2013, you and your wife, Siti Hasmah, visited the Great Mosque of Shadian in the Yunnan Province, China. Both of you were greeted by flowers from the Yufeng Elementary School’s young pioneers as you got off the bus. You then proceeded to Wudu and then prayed in the mosque. Vice Chairman Ma Kaixian showed you around the Grand Mosque. You also planted a pine tree for the Great Mosque, which represents the long-standing friendship between Malaysia and China.
History is an unbiased witness and is the best teacher
The history between Malaysia and China dated back to ancient times. There has been a wonderful fate to come across Malaysia. 600 years ago, Zheng He took the Maritime Silk Road and adventured across the western ocean seven times. Five of which brought him to Malacca. In addition to leaving many great achievements in Malacca, love for the friendly relations were established between the two countries. At the end of the 15th century, the Western colonists successively invaded the Malay Peninsula. As a result, the political relations between the two countries were interrupted. Fortunately, the trade continued.
We are pleased to read the Malaysian newspaper, Shihua Daily. On 12th June 2018, they reported that “Mahatir said that he has received an invitation from China, so he will arrange a time to visit as soon as possible. He pointed out that he visited Japan this time to especially attend the Asia Future International Conference, and will attend annually. China has long regarded Malaysia as a friendly country. Malaysia will also enhance friendly relations with China. He also mentioned that China is a big market and very helpful for Malaysian export. There are only some differences in opinion. Therefore, it is imperative to have a further negotiation. China has existed for more than 4,000 years, but Malaysia has only been in a good relation with China for 2,000, and had never been occupied.
For a long period of time in the past, the Chinese and Malaysian people were suffering from the devastation of the Western powers. Just like the waters of the Yellow River in China have carried countless sufferings; so as the sand deposits in the Rajang Riverbed in Malaysia have accumulated many bitter memories. The waves must clean the dust; and people will use their wisdom to defeat the enemy. Looking at Malaysia and China today, as well as other ASEAN countries, aren’t we all standing tall in the East? The South China Sea has the Sea Code of Conduct, and will surely become the sea of friendship for peace.
Dear Prime Minister, we are taking our own right path, and hence the destructive comments murmured by those watching at the sidelines become insignificant. For instance, when you told the Japanese media that the high-speed railway project plan that connects Malaysia and Singapore was postponed, those with ulterior motives exaggerated the fact and said that Prime Minister Mahatir has canceled the high-speed railway project.
Your Excellency, you also know the 8th Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum was just held in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony and delivered an important speech entitled “Joining the New Century China-Arab Strategic Partnership.” This speech received the attention and support all over the world, especially the Arabian countries. In his speech, President Xi Jinping said, “In order to promote general prosperity and progress of all countries, the Chinese advocates the establishment of the Belt and Road, adheres to the principle of building and sharing, promoting communication policy, facility connectivity, smooth trade, financial intermediation, and popular support, including the Arabian countries. The international community has widely supported and actively participated. As one of the important participants and founders of Silk Road civilization in history, the Arabian countries are at the intersection of the Belt and Road, and are the natural partners to build the Belt and Road further.
Your Excellency, the current international hot debate is no more than unilateralism in the interests of the United States. The practice of disadvantageous others like the United States is currently doing, is very different from the practice of the human destiny China is pursuing. The American hegemony is merely for their own interests and benefits, disregarding the wellbeing of others’ lives. China promotes mutual benefit and equality, where all countries are equal regardless of size.
In September and October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the strategic concept of building the New Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The strategy runs through Eurasia, connecting the Asia-Pacific economic circle to the East and entering the West. The European Economic Circle is an idea and initiative on cooperative development. It is an important measure for China to take the initiative to develop economic partnerships and establish cultural exchange activities with countries along the route. Malaysia and China are friendly partners who are across the sea and are dependent on each other. The establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries has successfully passed the first 40 years, and realized the concept of cooperation and mutual benefits. The cooperation between Malaysia and China is happening at the best time and place with the best people involved. This cooperation will surely bloom next spring!
However, we were astonished when we heard that you have suspended the Sino-Malaysia joint ventures in order to cut some state spending after being re-elected as the Prime Minister. The Sino-Malaysia cooperation projects would greatly benefit both Malaysia and China in economy and tourism. This project would help eradicate poverty and increase people’s standard of living. Although temporary, this suspension is a bit disappointing. In order to help with the economic situation in Malaysia, may we suggest the following:
(1) Regarding the East Coast Railway Project of Malaysia
The Malaysian East Coast Railway Project, with an approximate total length of 688 kilometers, was officially started on August 9th, 2017, witnessed by representatives of the Malaysian and Chinese governments, and is scheduled to be completed in 2024. A terminal for passengers will rise up on the loess of Kuantan area and will become one of the 20 sites along the East Coast Railway Project for the benefit of the local people. The East Coast Railway is an important milestone project to promote the development of eastern Malaysia and enhance regional interconnection. Upon completion, it will effectively promote the economic development of the East Coast Special Economic Zone, and even the eastern coastal states. Most importantly, it will promote the interconnection between Kuala Lumpur, with the East and West coasts, and thus enhance Malaysia’s presence both in status and influence in Southeast Asia. Large-scale transportation in the future will benefit more than 4.4 million people.
The East Coast Railway Project is by far the largest investment project in the history of Malaysia and China. The implementation of the project is not only an extension of the railway facilities on both East and West coasts of Malaysia, but also another extension of mutual trust and cooperation between China and Malaysia. The economic exchanges between the two countries have raised the level of cooperation to a new height. The line crosses the Genting Highlands in the form of a cross-ridge tunnel. Since the project is arduous, the will-be-consumed amount of human and material resources will be difficult to estimate before the construction starts. The project needs all parties to pay attention to support, so that the local democracy can bring tangible benefits to the national economy at an early date. There is no time to waste. This project must be completed as planned according to the contract, the sooner the better.
(2) Regarding the Construction of the Malaysian Emperor City Harbor (Huang Jing Gang)
The Straits of Malacca is Malaysia’s most valuable asset, which is hoped to play more important and active role in global connectivity. At more than 800 kilometers of the Straits, the Port of Malacca should be formed in the near future that will connect to the Linhai Industrial Park. The launch will create a very bright future. Working together with China, shape the Straits of Malacca into a strait of peace, prosperity, cooperation and form not just a point, but the golden belt of the Belt and Road. As a key city of the Belt and Road, the economic, trade exchanges and tourism between Malaysia and China would bring a dynamic situation to the people of Malacca. It can be said that Malacca will be in the lead of the 13 states of Malaysia.
Located on the shore of the world’s busiest Strait Malacca, the Emperor City Harbor project is fully supported by the Malaysian government and the Malacca state government. China and Malaysia work closely together to learn from each other’s strengths. China’s technology and efficiency are among the best in the world. Malaysia is an excellent and smart partner. In the history of more than 700 years in Malacca, there used to be 84 spoken languages. Zheng He’s feet had brought friendship, peace and unity to Malacca. After the completion of the Malacca Emperor City Harbor project, a very large deep-sea pier and marina will come to existence. Ships on the Straits of Malacca are busy, but the new repaired and replenished port will undoubtedly promote the tourism and economic growth of Malacca.
(3) Regarding the Pan-Asia High-Speed Railway
Since Chinese President Xi Jinping advocated the construction of the Belt and Road initiative, and revived China’s Silk Road, the trade with Russia, Belarus, Central Asia and European countries has developed rapidly. The development of commerce requires the support of logistics development, which in turn requires a strong investment in logistics infrastructure. China-Europe International Railway LCL is not limited to the railway station. It is more flexible to unload and transfer from the train station. Trucks are transported to all countries in Europe, including: Austria, Croatia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, Italy, Estonia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Poland, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Portugal, Spain and Greece.
Your Excellency, you mentioned that it is not impossible for the high-speed rail plan to appear in Malaysia, because it will be needed in the future. You are a senior politician, whose ideas are consistent with China’s One Belt One Road cooperation for mutual benefits. Both the consistent high-speed rail and the connected economic links are created so that Malaysia’s rich products can be sold to China and other Central Asian countries with the fastest speed and cheapest freight rate. To the South, Malaysia can sell to Singapore, Indonesia, and even Australia. Let Malaysia’s beautiful rivers and valleys, harmonious ethnic culture attract tourists to come riding in the high-speed trains from all directions.
Relevant experts said that the Chinese part of the Pan-Asia railway can be built in three to five years. If everything goes smoothly, the high-speed rail can travel from Kunming to Singapore in 15 to 20 hours. It will become a golden corridor connecting China and Southeast Asia, which definitely will promote the economy of Southeast Asia. We hope that with your broad vision and eminent prestige of the Malaysian people, the Southeast Asian high-speed railway will be realized soon.
We are glad to know that your special envoy, Mr. Daim, arrived in Beijing on 17th July to discuss the relevant issues between China and Malaysia, so the difficulties may be properly resolved. It is good to have talks, so that any confusion could be straightened out. In particular, the Prime Minister’s decision to visit China in mid-August is a major even for Malaysia and China. The Chinese people have always been hospitable, since you are an old friend to them. Your sincerity will prepare the best results for the meeting between the leaders of both countries.
Finally, we wish you good health and prosperity, as well as benefits for Malaysia!
Editor of One Belt One Road
20th July 2018