Mahathir urges patriotism on National Day

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. (AP)
Updated 01 September 2019

Mahathir urges patriotism on National Day

  • Mahathir Mohamad made the remarks on the eve of Malaysia’s 62nd National Independence Day celebrations

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s prime minister has condemned “ugly and disgusting” behavior online, urging citizens to show respect toward each other.

Mahathir Mohamad made the remarks on the eve of Malaysia’s 62nd National Independence Day celebrations in an address on public broadcaster RTM.

The country ranks among the top five globally in terms of internet penetration, with users spending an average of eight hours and five minutes online every day. Almost three hours of this is spent on social media.

“History showed how the country was built on the values of tolerance, noble character, mutual respect and sharing, unselfishness and willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the country,” said Mahathir. 

“But these values should not stop when we achieve independence or progress as we enjoy them today.

“Unfortunately, when we look around us, in our midst of communication and digitalization, good values are being replaced with ugly and disgusting behavior online.”

In defending religion and ethnicity, insults are thrown against other races and religions, he said.

 In defending religion and ethnicity, insults are thrown against other races and religions using profane and abusive language, in return can lead to anger and anxiety, he said.

Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957 and its cultural melting pot became the backbone of its economic development throughout the decades.

But pervasive corruption and racial politics led to discontent with the previous Barisan Nasional government, resulting in last year’s surprise election win by the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Mohamad and his government are harking back to his previous stint in office, in the 1980s and 1990s when the country experienced rapid industralization, by releasing a music video to remind people of the good times.

His administration has also adopted a theme — “Love Our Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia” — to refocus people’s attention to the damage wrought by corruption and efforts to tackle it.

The former prime minister, Najib Razak, has been hit with 42 criminal charges of graft and money laundering at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and other state entities.

1MDB, founded by Najib in 2009, is being investigated in at least six countries, and the US Department of Justice says about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

“What we hope is to ‘clean’ the country from corruption that can thwart our efforts to bring peace and stability to all citizens,” said Mohamad. “One of the biggest disasters in the country is corruption and it also involves the civil service.”

WHO raises global virus risk to maximum level

Updated 26 min 52 sec ago

WHO raises global virus risk to maximum level

  • Oil prices also dived four percent to their lowest levels for more than a year
  • China reported 44 more deaths on Friday

GENEVA: The World Health Organization on Friday raised its global risk assessment of the new coronavirus to its highest level after the epidemic spread to sub-Saharan Africa and caused financial markets to plunge.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the risk was being raised to “very high” because of the continued increase in cases and the number of new countries affected in recent days.
These developments “are clearly of concern,” Tedros told reporters in Geneva.
But he added: “We still have a chance of containing this virus, if robust action is taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts.”
The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging on every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people traveling or gathering in crowded places.
Switzerland became the latest country to announce drastic measures on Friday, saying all events with more than 1,000 participants would be suspended until March 15.
The ban forced the cancelation of the Geneva International Motor Show — a major item on the global auto industry calendar — that was due to start next week.
Carnival celebrations, rock concerts and a major watchmaking trade show also had to be scrapped.
The virus has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 83,000 worldwide — the vast majority in China — since it emerged apparently from an animal market in a central Chinese city in late December.
The number of deaths and new infections has been tapering off in China, following unprecedented quarantine efforts locking down tens of millions of people in the worst-hit cities.
But infections elsewhere have started to surge, with Iran, Italy and South Korea becoming the major new hotspots and cases being confirmed in around 50 countries.
“We see a number of countries struggling with containment,” said Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program.
The WHO has voiced particular concern about Africa’s preparedness, warning that the continent’s health care systems were ill-equipped to respond to a COVID-19 epidemic.
Cases had previously been reported in Egypt and Algeria, but not in the sub-Saharan region until Friday when Nigeria reported its first case: an Italian man in densely populated Lagos.
Stock markets around the world have plummeted this week as it has become increasingly clear the virus will take a huge toll on the global economy.
“Stock markets are well on their way to their worst week since the global financial crisis,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda trading group.
Several companies have said they expect the virus to hit their earnings because of weaker demand.
Oil prices also dived four percent to their lowest levels for more than a year, with Brent oil for April delivery sinking as low as $50.05 a barrel.
Analysts have warned that China, the world’s second largest economy, will see a major cut in growth this quarter as the country remains largely paralyzed by quarantines and containment measures.
Still, signs in China offered hope that the outbreak could be contained.
China reported 44 more deaths on Friday, raising its toll to 2,788, with 327 new cases — the lowest daily figure for new infections in more than a month.
The main concern for health officials is outside of China, with governments this week forced into increasingly drastic measures in an attempt to battle spiralling epidemics.


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The biggest death toll outside China is in Iran, where 34 people have died.
As elsewhere, the virus has mostly killed the elderly or people who had other health conditions.
South Korea also now has the most cases outside China, with more than 2,000 infections and 13 deaths.
The virus has had wide-ranging impact, even forcing K-pop megastars BTS to cancel four Seoul concerts due in April.
In Japan, the health ministry said a British man who was on board a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo had died, bringing the death toll to six.
The unidentified man’s death is the latest linked to infections on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where more than 700 other people tested positive for the illness.
The death comes as the governor of Japan’s rural northern island of Hokkaido urged people to stay at home this weekend in a desperate effort to contain the outbreak.
In Europe, the largest epicenter is Italy with 650 cases and 17 deaths — mostly in cities in the north.
Wide-ranging measures to halt the spread of the virus have affected tens of millions of people in northern Italy, with schools closed and cultural and sporting events canceled.
Experts said the virus had probably “circulated unnoticed for several weeks” before the first confirmed cases — possibly since January.
Belarus, Denmark, Iceland, Lithuania, Mexico and New Zealand were the latest countries to report new cases.