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Former Malaysian PM to visit Wellington

Former Malaysian PM to visit Wellington

Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been in secret talks to negotiate a peace settlement in southern Thailand, will visit Wellington next month to deliver the 2006 Malay Studies Saad Lecture at Victoria University.

Dr Mahathir told news media this month that he had been involved in efforts to initiate peace talks with Islamic insurgents in Thailand’s Muslim dominated southern provinces.

He told Malaysia’s The Star newspaper that the decision arose from a meeting last year with Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej to discuss ways to end the conflict that had claimed over 1700 people since 2004.

The Malaysian government has said it was not involved in the talks, describing them as a private initiative.

Dr Mahathir was prime minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003. He is an outspoken critic of Australian and US foreign policy. Efforts by Australia to grow closer to the Asian region through the formation of an East Asia community of nations drew the comment “actually they are Europeans, they are not Asians”.

And famously there was the diplomatic war of words that blew up in 1993 when the then prime minister of Australia, Paul Keating, described Dr Mahathir as “recalcitrant” for not attending an APEC meeting.

In 1998, Dr Mahathir was also the focus of international attention when his government levelled sodomy and abuse of power charges against the country’s former finance and deputy minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Dr Mahathir will be in Wellington to give the 2006 Saad Lecture on Tuesday, November 7 at Lecture Theatre 1, Rutherford House, Victoria University. The topic of his presentation is Criminalise War: The Path to Peaceful Resolution.

To confirm your attendance, email deborah.osullivan[at]vuw.ac.nz by October 30. To attend a media conference, contact Charles Mabbett at cmabbett[at]asianz.org.nz.


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