End The Criminal War On Syrians.

(Cross-posted from http://prayersforsyria.com on March 25, 2015)

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Syria is like a hunted animal, being slowly killed one American arrow at a time

The following article is written by my friend, Declan Hayes – a passionate Irishman. I was with Declan in Damascus in April of this year. He has been back to Syria twice since then and spent the bulk of his time meeting with ordinary individuals and families on the front line, and doing his best to contribute to the rebuilding of the country.

Declan is an academic by trade – a lecturer in finance at the University of Southampton – and hence not the most obvious character to be playing a key role in the rebuilding of Syria, and yet it tends to be the Good Lord’s pattern to choose the most unlikely characters to spearhead His work.

Declan introduces his article as follows:

“The comments that follow are based on my experiences and observations from the last month which I spent in government-controlled Syria, in particular, from my time in Damascus, Ma’lulah, Saydnaya, Latakia and Kasab where I saw at first-hand the results of the terrorist war of attrition the Syrian rebels, Turkey and their Western allies are waging against the Syrian people.”

Declan’s article is long and it is a hard read as it will likely bring a tear to your eye. But I would encourage you to read it through to the end. Our Western governments need to know what they are involved in in Syria and if no one speaks out then the killing will continue unabated.

Father Dave

Dr Declan Hayes

Syria is like a hunted animal, being slowly killed one American arrow at a time. In Syria’s north east, the Islamic State forces, obviously trained, supported and supplied by their regional allies, Turkey in particular, inflict heavy losses on the outgunned Syrian Arab Army forces. In the north, roving bands of Western armed and funded “moderate” gangs, aided and assisted by Turkey, plunder isolated Christian communities at will, slaughtering the inhabitants and, crucially, ripping the heart out of these communities.

Across the border, in Turkey, Western aid, most of it channeled through the terrorist Syrian Muslim Brotherhood organization, is given to the Islamic bands who control the refugee camps; some of the aid is given to the families of the fighters, more is given to opportunistic entrepreneurs and the rest is sent to the “moderate” Islamic fighters across the border in Syria to help them rid areas contiguous to Turkey of all non-Sunni minorities. All of this is designed to dismember Syria and to divide it, like ancient Gaul and modern Iraq, into three dysfunctional but malleable pieces, all the better to control and exploit it.

Aleppo, the industrial heartland of Syria, has been stripped of its factories, which have been sold as war booty in Turkey. Scores of civilians remain missing, sold, no doubt in Raqaa to Turks or Saudis who are not too particular how they acquire their non-Sunni sex slaves whom they regard as sub-humans.

Across the border, Lebanese soldiers are kidnaped by American-trained rebels and are beheaded so that Lebanon, which stands at the edge of the Syrian abyss, might also be devoured by the sectarian fires all of Syria’s armed rebels, along with their foreign mercenaries and the foreign powers, which fund them, stoke.

In the north, the mothers of Tartous and Latakia continue to bury their sons, who die in the uniforms of the Syria Arab Army, defending their families from the unspeakable fate Obama’s moderate rebels have decreed for them and which was visited in person to the mothers of Latakia in August 2013 by suspected war criminal and White House darling General Sam Idriss, when his moderate rebels kidnapped hundreds of women and children and slaughtered entire villages for no other crime than being moderate in their beliefs.  Syria’s Christians, meanwhile, their churches ransacked, scour the world, looking for a refuge, any refuge, from the fate that the West has decreed for them and for Lebanon’s Christians by the hands of the moderate Syrian rebels, who delight only in death and destruction, pillage and rape.

To the south, Israeli artillery units give covering fire to moderate rebels as they over-run Druze villages and behead their elders. In the outskirts of Damascus, the story is not much different. The moderate rebels shell residential communities on a daily basis and, when the Syrian Army counter-attacks, the West condemns them for defending their homeland against foreign rebels and mercenaries who brook no resistance, who countenance no contrary opinion and who execute all who are not fully subservient to them and their sectarian, slaughter campaign.

Syria’s true opposition, meanwhile, are numbed into inertia by all of this. This group, which includes opposition MPs, doctors working in Syria’s hospitals, as well as voluntary and church workers, cannot understand why Syria’s most sectarian forces, the extremist and ultra-sectarian Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in particular, are the darlings of the West. Though they can point to countless atrocities committed by these embittered thugs, they cannot understand why the John Kerry continues not only to wine and dine them but also allows them to continue their criminal enterprises.

This is not to say that they do not comprehend what the Pentagon has in store for Syria and her people; with Iraq just over the border, no one could fail to understand that the entire region is being fashioned to the design of the obnoxious regime of Saudi Arabia, which beheads far more people than do their Islamic State proxies and which suppresses freedom of expression in Bahrain with the same gusto than do the moderate rebels in Syria.

They know that the rebels could not function without the help of Saudi Arabia and Turkey and that their help is, in turn, conditional on the United States and the human rights groups she controls turning a blind eye to their crimes. They know all that but they cannot understand why the West wants to sacrifice them on the altar of Saudi Arabia’s ugly obscurantism. They cannot understand why Turkey is allowed to collude in blatant war crimes against the civilians of Kasab, Idlib and Aleppo and why the West also colludes in the final solution of extermination that is their lot.

The West’s leaders could be a part of the solution and not the problem if they wished. First off, they could immediately criminalize the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and prosecute those involved in its charity racketeering. Next off, they could investigate the role of Turkey’s leaders in the vast number of atrocities that have their paw prints indelibly embedded in them and take appropriate action against them and the Turkish state. Next, it could send fact-finding delegations to Damascus to get a feel for life under perpetual mortar fire, fortified by the West’s sanctions.

They could do all that and more but they do not want to because they want Syria destroyed and her people pauperized and impoverished. The moderate rebels have driven Syria’s farmers off their lands, they have stripped bare the factories of Aleppo, America’s green light has allowed them to hire armies of rapacious Chechen mercenaries and pay them three times as much in a day than Syrian soldiers can hope to earn in a month. That is the White House way.

These rebels and mercenaries are not harbingers of freedom but tools of Saudi conquest and oppression. Their policies, in as much as they have any, regarding women, minorities, religious, sexual or racial tolerance mirror those of the totalitarian Saudi state, which outlaws Christianity, persecutes most minority Muslim faiths, crushes civil dissent in Bahrain, funds terror and  obscurantist ideologies worldwide and brooks absolutely no dissent to its obnoxious rule. The ISIS apple does not fall far from the Saudi tree.

Although the West’s leaders, for whom the mercenary end seems to justify the mercenary means, knows all of this and more, they still shame-facedly pose as honest brokers and as some kind of guardian angels to the region’s minorities and moderate Sunnis, even as they and their allies supply weapons of death to the jihadists who are slaughtering them and cleansing them from their ancestral homes.

The Western media’s idea that there are moderate rebels in Syria is likewise utterly contemptible. War has always radicalized and brought out the worst, not the best in humans. The rule of the bomb and the bullet is the antithesis of reason and all the more so when the West is determined to divide the region on confessional lines. Arming Syrian Sunnis, ostensibly because they are the majority, is, of course, a recipe for sectarian slaughter, as is the dictatorship of the majority premise it is based on. It is to accentuate, rather than to mitigate the region’s fault lines and to let out the dogs of war on an unimaginable scale. It is to ensure minorities have no rights, unless they can be corralled into their own Bantustan, complete with the types of ephemeral rights and mountains of obligations West Bank Palestinians are all too familiar with.

Though all of that may seem unimaginable to most ordinary people, it is the game plan on The Road to Persia. The illegal, opportunistic and ill-thought out sanctions on and war in Iraq directly caused the deaths of over a million children, the infamous collateral damage to that war that now barely warrant a footnote from those who comment on it. A million dead Iraqi children, forgotten by all as if they never existed and never had simple dreams, pleasures, pastimes, hopes and aspirations like the rest of us.

As in Iraq, so shall it be in Syria, which is being dismembered into confessional mini states as part of the Road to Persia project for, although the fog of war might make it hard to say who is currently winning the war, the ordinary people of Syria are definitely its big losers. Not only are their sons being captured and beheaded by the Chechen and Tunisian mercenaries plaguing their land but America’s sanctions, which play the good cop to the bad Chechen cop, continue to destroy their quality of life. Many of Syria’s most vulnerable, the old and the very young, have to beg for scraps from the tables of pavement cafes, where the diners are often little better off than themselves. The Syrian soldiers look like they have not slept in a year and middle-class and middle-aged families have to elect to let their parents and children die rather than give them what, for us, would be routine surgery.

Syria resembles Byzantium in its death throes. The Armenian town of Kasab has had scores of its inhabitants beheaded, and its old folk taken as hostages to Turkey where they were paraded, like the war trophies they were, in front of the American ambassador. I met an English teacher there who used to get her simple kicks by singing and playing the organ in church. Her church is now gutted and the organ split into smithereens after the rebels made a propaganda video about it. Her school has been torched as have all the books and other primitive instruments of learning it was home to. The school children have even had their teddy bears stolen by the rebels and they are quite rightly fearful about their futures, if, indeed, they have one. Conversation in Kasab is not about Real Madrid or Barcelona, Cher or Kim Karadashian but is mostly about how the rebels looted every single home, how they scrawled their messages of hate on every single wall and what neighbours were tortured and murdered and where and why.

The why is the easy part. The Armenians of Kasab were butchered and their village dismembered to let them and the uncaring world know that Turkey can repeat this exercise any time it sees fit. Those Armenians who have returned are thinking of leaving again and wondering is there any port in the world that will give them refuge from the Saudi-funded storm overwhelming them.

Kasab’s children are a nice lot, as children usually are. They know the score, as we say in Ireland and it shows in their nervous twitches. They hear the nearby shelling, the machine gun fire and the artillery and they see the wounded Syrian soldiers being evacuated. Because they know that they too might have to be again evacuated, they have been uprooted, their childhoods sacrificed on the altar of America’s ruthless foreign policy.

Although the old folk who were taken as hostages to Turkey for the amusement of the American ambassador or who had stay behind under the occupation also know the score, most of them put on a brave face and recount how they defied their oppressors in big or little ways. Samuel Polodian recounts how he traded cigarettes for sardines with the Chechen commander who billeted in his house and George Kortmosian tells similar tales, as does 95 year old Joseph Saghjian, who Turkey filmed, for propaganda purposes, along with Soughmon, his 85 year old brother, being helped off the bus in Turkey by their kidnappers. Though Dikranuhi Mangigian, who is 91 and who could not be evacuated because America’s sanctions deprives her of the medicines necessary to keep her legs mobile, recounts how she pretended she could only speak Armenian and not Arabic to her oppressor, Papken Djourian has no such tales of valour. He and his wife had to watch as the moderate rebels executed Kevork, their only son, in front of them, let his body rot in the son for three days and then dump it, like the carcass of a dog, in a hole in their apple orchard before evacuating them with Turkish complicity across their border for their safety and for the amusement of the American ambassador and his pretty wife, both of whom cared not a whit for their plight.

I took a lift from Kasab to Latakia on the back of a pick-up truck with Syrian soldiers fresh from killing al Nusra foreigners and eager to go back and kill more. Though we joked and laughed about the usual things soldiers joke and laugh about, I did notice the soldier opposite me, in between the jokes, kissing and caressing the muzzle of this AK47. He is no doubt keeping the last bullet for himself, which, all in all, is probably sensible enough, even if the old ladies who met some of them in Latakia would prefer that bullet through their ancient skulls rather than the attentions of the moderate rebels, who enjoy gang raping their female captives and, in the case of the Afghans, their much younger male captives as well.

Latakia itself is, along with Tartous, enjoying something of an economic boom as those who flee rebel-held areas, flock to those and other safe havens and cause knock-on economic benefits in housing and other sectors. Tourism also booms there as Syrians, unable to go abroad, opt for stay-at-home holidays. The funeral industry is also booming as recruits from those areas are bearing the heaviest brunt in Syria’s war against the criminal elements ravaging it.

The funeral industry is also booming in Damascus, most notably but by no means exclusively in the Christian and Druze enclave of Jaramana. It is no means exceptional for these exclusively civilian neighbourhoods to get 20 and more rockets lobbed into them in a single afternoon and, in this respect, Jaramana is to Syria what Malta was the Allies during World War 2. It has been bombed and rocketed every single day for the last three years, ever since the war to dismember Syria began. Deaths, injuries and multiple funerals are now an everyday occurrence there as these innocent folk have been abandoned by the West to the non-existent mercies of the Syrian rebels in all their inter-changing hues and alliances of convenience.

Though the Syrian air force has now entered the fray, continually bombing the rebel front lines of nearby Jobar from whence most of the deadliest rockets and mortars come, they cannot deliver a knockout blow. Hamas have taught the rebels and their supporting mercenaries how to make impenetrable tunnels and Western technology and Syrian slaves have allowed them multiply and cause mayhem in places such as Adra which are as diverse as Syria herself.

The coalition waged against Syria have left little to chance. They are confident of victory. Their allies and proxies are kidnapping and chasing UN soldiers from the Golan Heights, they are wresting large swathes of land from the central Syrian government under one flag of convenience or another and uncertainty, the spectre of death and the stench of permanent stagnation haunt the rest of Syria. This can be easily seen in the Aramaic-speaking town of Ma’lulah, where the priceless icons have been looted, the churches destroyed, the children traumatized beyond recovery, the community destroyed and, like Kasab, the entire place abandoned by Westerners, Christians in particular, who should be helping them keep the faith. It is a war crime repeated the length and breadth of Syria.

The nearby all-Christian city of Saydnaya seems the exception that proves the rule. This city is dominated by a Greek orthodox convent the same way Italy’s Monte Cassino dominates its surrounds. Though these nuns are guardians to priceless icons, an icon of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus painted by St Luke the Evangelist taking pride of place amongst them, one wonders, if like those artifacts of Monte Casino, these too will be rescued or if they will follow those of Ma’lulah into the underground markets of Turkey, France and the USA.

Although we cannot be sure about what will happen to the icons, we can be pretty sure what will happen to the town’s Christian defenders, an eclectic mixture of semi-professional soldiers and civilians determined to fight and die for their homeland. They are, quite simply, doomed. There will be no salvation for them when the Pontius Pilate West allows the moderate rebels and their extremist partners regroup. Saydnaya is not Monte Cassino. It is not defended by battle-hardened German paratroopers but by a ragtag group of lightly (and sometimes not so lightly) armed patriotic locals who have not received the training and materiel the USA and her allies have extended to their enemies.

Although they are doomed, these “Cross worshippers”  are, like untold millions of their compatriots, determined to die with their boots on, faithful to their religion, to their culture and to their homeland until the inevitable, inescapable and extremely ugly end. One wonders what will follow their demise and the wasteland that will be Syria, and if the victorious warlords who inherit it, will, in time, allow narcissistic Western tourists potter around in the ruins and tut-tut about its “tragic” fate.

Perhaps the Pope in Rome will offer a Mass for the repose of the souls of those Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic soldiers who die with an AK47 in one hand and their rosary beads in the other. Perhaps religious charities will raise a few bob on their backs and give some of it to those who manage to escape the fate that America has in store for them.

I know nothing of all of that. All I know is I met a bunch of lovely people in Saydnaya. I think of a little girl who proudly carried aloft an icon of Mary around for the entire procession on 8th September. I see the faces of the Greek Orthodox nuns who carried their icons on that procession as nuns before them have done since time immemorial. I see the faces of the young refugees from Ma’lulah the nuns house and can all too easily imagine their futures, blighted beyond repair by America’s machinations. I recall a very intelligent boy who gave me fascinating insights into the area on the convent’s roof and how we admired that convent, its view, its history and its culture and lamented how those America pays to attack it regard the convent as nothing more than a fortress to be stocked by their cohorts who are infinitely more ruthless than even Hitler’s Monte Casino paratroopers were.

The picture I see is very bleak, bleaker perhaps than the betrayal and subsequent fall of Byzantium. It is a picture of betrayal, of death and mass executions, of simple people being sold in slave markets and sacrificed for the interests of some of the world’s most repugnant regimes, Turkey and Saudi Arabia being pre-eminent amongst them.

This deliverance of the decent people of Iraq and Syria to their enemies is one of the most shocking and disgusting crimes of modern times and all of those, without exception, who colluded in this crime are at least as guilty as those who collaborated with Hitler’s SS when they committed their equally heinous crimes.  The fact that an almost defenceless people stand, in their homeland, on one side and, on the other, Western governments and civil and religious organisations arm, fund, clothe, protect and promote those foreigners and local Quislings and ne’er do wells who wish to wrest it from them, does not reflect well on anybody of authority in the West. Should Syria survive, should she and civilization itself come through these trials, it will be no thanks at all to those Western regimes and institutions who have cosied up to the world’s most reactionary, most despicable and obscurantist regimes who have put the entire people of Syria on the wrack for the pettiest and most venal of reasons. Nor will it be some sort of celestial miracle, delivered from on high for some obtuse reason or other. Rather, it will be a tribute to the courage, bravery and humanity of all of those alluded to here: the soldiers, mothers and civilians of Syria who, though abandoned by the world, managed to persevere. For my part, I am happy to have seen that light of humanity shine in the Darkness of the West, even if the Darkness still does not and never will comprehend it. It is enough.

Dr Declan Hayes made three trips to Syria this year. He is helping organize a three-day conference in Damascus, beginning April 24th 2015, tentatively called: Syria: Between Destruction and Reconstruction to mark the murder of all Syria’s innocents and to help plot a way forward out of the morass. He may be reached at londonhayes@gmail.com…

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Dr. Mahathir Mohamad On Surviving The Next Global Financial Crisis.

365-1

Comment:

Dr. Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years, shares his important, profound insights on becoming informed how Malaysia during his leadership became the target of financial speculators/abusers – and the need for governments to tightly regulate systemic risk financial transactions like those that brought down the global economy in 2008.

A university trained practicing medical doctor before entering politics, then attaining the highest office in his native country, Dr. Mohamad shares his intriguing experience where medical training gave him the tools to protect Malaysia’s people and economy from international financial, economy-destroying predators. The lessons he presents are important ones for peoples and nations around the Earth.

Putting  a description to Mahathir Mohamad’s address in another, more astonishing way, what he says about the world’s financial system has never become shared with the American people by any elected representative on the floor of the United States Congress nor by any President of the United States.

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Cross-posted on March 25, 2015 from www.perdana.org.my

PERDANA LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION

CEO FORUM 2014 – 24th SEPTEMBER 2014
CLOSING KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY TUN DR. MAHATHIR MOHAMAD
FOURTH PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA and HONORARY PRESIDENT,
PERDANA LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION

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I know a little about crisis management before I became a Prime Minister. This is because as a doctor, we come across many crises. Because of our work, people come with very critical conditions. This is when they are in crisis and the duty of a doctor is to handle this critical condition, in other words, to handle this crisis.

A doctor has an advantage in crisis management. This is because our medical course consists of instructions which we should use to handle a medical crisis that comes before us. We have been told that the way to manage a crisis is to be systematic. When a doctor is faced with a crisis, he spends a little bit of time to find out what is actually the crisis. Without knowing what a crisis is all about, you would not know how to handle it. In this matter, he needs to accept the truth and not deny the reality.

The first thing to do is, he needs to understand what the patient is suffering from and to do this, it begins with the history of the sickness. The history holds a lot of information on the sickness. He has to ask the
patient how the problem started, what are his feelings, whether he has a temperature, running nose, diarrhea and such to find out what the problem is about.

This is the preliminary stage of handling a crisis. He has to go through the process of getting the history and once you obtain the history, you cannot deny the facts. You do not kid yourself and say that maybe the illness is not that severe and the patient is in no danger of dying.

In handling a crisis, you must face the facts and get the correct data. Once you have all the data on the crisis, you are well on the way to diagnosing what is ailing the patient, the economy or the country. Get as much data as possible and categorize them if you can.

The next stage is for the doctor to examine the patient. Examination means putting your hands on the body of the patient, listening to his heart and his lungs to determine his illness. Following that, we do a lab test, which involves sending samples to the lab to be analyzed, to grow the bacteria, etc. With the information we have, we come nearer to a diagnosis. Of course, nowadays, we have X-Rays, CAT Scans and all kinds of new appliances which give you more information on what the patient is suffering from. Putting all these information together and maybe consulting with others, we can arrive at a conclusive diagnosis and from then on, the next question is the medication to prescribe.

There will be choices of treatment – a surgical procedure, oral medication or intravenous drugs. This was what I was taught in medical school. When I became a Prime Minister, I found this systematic procedure of gathering information very useful in order to deal with a crisis which is not tangible, and of course, a classic one is the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis.

I am neither a finance man nor a banker, so of course, I needed to read up a lot in order to understand the briefings given by the officers concerned. You can be briefed on a lot of things but if you do not understand the subject, it is not going to be very useful. So I read up on banking and finance and I began to understand a little bit about finance. I do not have investments. I do not have a single cent in the stock market nor do I dabble with investments in any company. I therefore had to learn a lot about these things to understand what was happening to the country.

Sure enough, I got the history and the background of the crisis that the country was facing. I gathered as much data as possible about the situation. I had numerous briefings. With this, I can be considered to have thoroughly examined what was happening to the finances and the economy of the country, why we were going through the recession, what were the wrong things we had done or maybe what were the wrong things that other people had done. I was able to reach some conclusions and refined the conclusion further on how the crisis could be managed. You can see that the procedure is akin to a doctor diagnosing a patient.

If you ask me about leadership in crisis management, I cannot advise you to become a doctor because it would be too late. I would advise you to learn the methods of the doctors. They go through a set of procedures which leads to their ability to recognize and diagnose problems, and subsequently prescribe the treatment. The treatment, of course, is another problem to solve.

In the crisis of 1997/98, I had great difficulty in understanding the situation because I knew very little about finance and banking. I was shocked to find out that banking involves lending money that you do not have, and that once the money is lent out, it becomes the banks’ assets. You have nothing, you lend nothing and it becomes your assets. If anyone wants to do business, banking is the best business.

Well, all banks operate this way; I am not blaming them. I think there is a need to create money, because if we depend only on the money issued by the government, it would not be enough. Therefore the banks themselves, in a way, create money.

Of course, when banks lend you money, it is frequently money they do not possess. While they do have some money, such as the capital invested in the bank, deposits in the bank and other assets, the amount of money the bank lends often exceeds the amount of money the bank has. So they need to create money. This is a very powerful instrument. How much money can you create? I read a book that says banks can lend up to 10 times the amount of deposits with the bank. Which means somebody lends you RM1million, you can lend out RM10million. That is good business. But then the banks ask, ‘Why not 11 times, or 20 times?’ So they created a new term called leveraging.

Leveraging is lending money that you do not have. That is the advantage of the banks: they can practically lend an unlimited amount of money. The hedge funds and currency traders then take advantage of the ability to borrow almost unlimited amounts of money from the banks. This is what I learnt. I believe this was the way things were.

Because how can the traders have so much Ringgit (Malaysia’s currency) to sell which previously they did not seem to have? I subsequently discovered that they actually did not have the money. What they did was to borrow Ringgit from the banks to buy or sell. The banks can lend a lot of money to them because the banks can create money. So the hedge funds and currency traders had at their call almost any amount of money.

The idea is this: someone deposits RM1 million with you and you can then lend out RM10 million, RM20 million or RM30 million (30 times more). If you have RM1 million and you want to invest RM1 million directly, your capital is only RM1 million. But if you invest through hedge funds or with currency traders at the banks, the RM1 million becomes RM30 million. Obviously, if you invest RM30 million, you will get 30 times more profits and dividends than you would if you had invested RM1 million. That is why people want to invest through hedge funds and at times, the currency traders, too. They were able to have a lot of money with which to play and when you have a lot of money to play with, the game changes in your favour.

When you buy specific shares repeatedly, the value goes up and when you sell the shares repeatedly, the value goes down. Obviously, you can keep on buying shares to push the price up, and then, when the shares are highly valued, dump the stocks and make a lot of money. When you dump the shares, somebody else will have to carry the burden of shares which have depreciated. The hedge funds stood to gain a lot and the spoils were divided between the funds and their investors. That was how it worked.

The traders had no money. They were creating money to buy or sell the Ringgit. They did not have a cent. Money comes in many forms. It comes as a cheque. When you borrow RM10milllion from a bank, they do not give it to you in cash because you will have difficulty taking the cash out from the bank. They only enter the figure that they lend to you and you can withdraw from your account whenever you like. There is no cash involved. And when you pay the bank, the bank merely writes down a credit that you have paid such an amount. Actual cash is not necessary. You just write cheques. Today we have credit cards and all kinds of new money which is not created or printed by the Government. Money today takes many forms and allows itself to be manipulated.

Currency traders raise money this way. They depress our currency by selling it. When it is at a low enough value, they start buying. The currency will then appreciate and they make money out of the appreciation. It is a very simple system of impoverishing other countries. I learnt about this and I got very annoyed and angry. I thought it was unfair for traders like George Soros to do this to a country that was just coming up. When they devalued our currency by 50 percent, we became poorer. If we had RM1 million, the million became worth only RM500,000 in terms of purchasing power. They were impoverishing us in a way that was grossly unfair.

I needed to understand the mechanism completely. So I read a lot. When we are faced with a sick person and you want to restore him to good health, how do you do it? We have to administer medicine and sometimes chop off a limb or other nasty things, but you have to do it to manage the crisis.

So, how did we manage the crisis? The traders were selling and buying the Ringgit. Obviously if they could not sell or buy our Ringgit, they could not play around with it. How did we stop them? Fortunately our Central Bank is very powerful. It could direct the banks operating in Malaysia that no transaction in our currency would be approved if the money deposited or withdrawn was not for a legal purpose. If the transaction was to suppress the value of the Ringgit, the transfer between the buyer and the seller would not be allowed. Once we stopped that, we could stop them from playing around with our currency.

You have to know what is ailing the economy. By understanding this, we could prescribe the medicine to reverse the situation. If the traders were selling, we stopped them from selling. If they were buying, we stopped them from buying. Once we did that, the disease was practically cured.

The European financial crisis could not be resolved after eight years because the governments in Europe have rejected history; they rejected the information that they received and they remain in a state of denial. When it was pointed out to them that the financial market is being manipulated to the advantage of the manipulators who make tonnes of money, they were not prepared to declare this is wrong or illegal. Some people make a lot of money through manipulation and perhaps this is maintained so that some people can continue to make a lot of money. The financial market does not have many spin-offs or small supporting industries. You do not need even one supporting party for a RM10 million transaction in the financial market if it is just a speculative transaction. You do not need transport, nor insurance, nor workers, nor machines to carry the money. It is done by electronic transfer.

The result is that the financial market does not support the economy and does not create jobs. This is unlike manufacturing or providing service in hotels which need a lot of workers. When you do real business, many people will benefit from it. Financial businesses do not benefit anyone other than the speculator who may make or lose a lot money. It is just a small group of people (in America they are concentrated on Wall Street) that is making tonnes of money. A financial business does not create any jobs and help anyone other than its owners and investors. If you refuse to accept this fact, you would not be able to solve a financial crisis.

If you have a RM10 million manufacturing business, you need to employ a lot of people and create spin-off supporting industries. If you do not have any spin-off industries, you do not create any jobs. But in the financial market, a RM10 million transaction does not create jobs nor does it have supporting industries; it would not help the economy improve. You have to accept that the financial market does not help the economy. You may have a lot of money but only you benefit and other people do not benefit. If the people do not benefit, there will be unhappiness everywhere.

There is book entitled, ‘The Disparity of Income in the United States’ by Paul Krugman which says that 1% owns the economy and 99% do not benefit from the economy. This economy is created by the financial industry. There is a great deal of wealth disparity in the US today and it is causing a lot of social problems.

If you admit that the financial market does not result in job creation for the economy, then you have to admit that the financial market is wrong. The solution is to go back to real business. What is real business? You can borrow money because you have an idea to manufacture something which you think people want to buy. Maybe you take profits of say 5% or 10% at the most. But that is good business because your industry creates jobs and supporting industries. People will have money to buy products and when people have money to buy, your products can be sold and the money turns around in the society and enriches everyone.

That is real business. Real business is a business of producing things and providing services that people need or want so that you make money and in the process, a lot of other people will benefit especially the workers. But in a financial transaction, there are no jobs created and there is no spin-off industry. We must recognise this and to turn around the economy, we need to reduce or stop such activities and regulate the financial industry.

When they were devaluing the Ringgit, we thought it was wrong. They should not play around with our Ringgit and make us poor. We were told that this was freedom, that it was the right thing to do because it made profits. When the same calamity strikes their own country, they readily admit that the financial market contributes much less to the economy than the real business of producing goods and services. When it comes to leadership and crisis management, the first is to examine what caused the crisis. There must be a cause as crises do not happen by themselves.

In the case of the 1997/98 crisis, some people were manipulating money. When you abuse any system, you are going to get bad results. The banking system is good because it creates the capital that you need to make the economy grow. However, if it is abused by allowing banks to create unlimited amounts of money then it leads to a lot of problems faced by the world. We see that happen during this (2008/2009) financial crisis. Banks are very secretive. They do not want to reveal what they are doing and how much money they are making.

During the crisis in England, banks paid bonuses when they were still making losses. Even if they caused the losses, the top executives still got their bonuses. This is not right. Governments must be prepared to step in. You need to abolish this practice. The pressure comes from the very rich who has more influence on the Government than the ordinary man in the street. You need strong leadership to stand up to the pressures coming from these very rich people in order to legislate or limit the abuses. It is not to limit the function of the banks but to limit the abuses of the banking system. By all means create capital and money because we need the money but do not ever go beyond the limit.

If you are a strong leader, you can say that to the banks and the banks will eventually have to agree. You can inform the people that it is the banks that are causing all the problems. The number of bankers is far less than the number of voters in any country and if you pay attention to voters’ needs, you will get more support from the voters than if you play to the tune of the bankers.

For a leader to manage a crisis, he needs to be strong, forceful, willful and determined. He needs to take action even if it is unpopular with certain groups. Leaders who do not want to take action will never be able to handle a crisis.

To take action, the leader need to understand the way a crisis is to be handled. The way to understand is to go through the procedures a doctor goes through in order to reach a diagnosis and eventually provide the medicine. Leaders today cannot be good at politics only but need to also be good in finance and economics, otherwise, the leadership would not be effective. Good leadership can only come from people who are knowledgeable. You cannot have a good leader who is dumb or who is just good at being popular but cannot handle a crisis.

If I had the privilege of being a dictator (and I was accused of being one), it would be easy to solve a crisis. I would just line the men up against the wall and shoot them. Of course I could not do that. I had to find other ways of solving the crisis and this required me to be educated on the subject matter, to understand the ailment and handle it systematically. We have to be educated – not just the leaders but people at large – because otherwise, people may select leaders based on his hairdo or face and then discover that the leader is not able to handle crises.

Today’s world is very complicated. We not only have to manage our own country but also our relationships with our neighbours and even people who are far away. Previously it was very simple: Malaysia was like an island. Today, everybody is looking at Malaysia. Even detaining people under the ISA is regarded as bad. We only detain people, we don’t kill them. Today people are passing judgment on absentee criminals and sending drones to kill the criminal. This is worse than our record of just detaining people. At least the detainees are still alive. For a leader to deal with a crisis, whether financial, economic or political, the process is similar to how a doctor treats his patients. Know what the crisis is about, gather data, have a proper assessment of strengths and weaknesses, use your strengths to counter your weaknesses and you have solved the crisis.

QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION
Question 1 (Peter)
I have been in Malaysia since 1997 and I know exactly what happened at that time. I had watched you for a long time and admired you for your ability to stay focused and for sticking to your guns. You have always done things your way. Whenever I hear the song ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra, I always think of you, Tun Mahathir.

The question is ‘How do you, in the face of adversity, make the ultimate decision?’ All your decisions are highly visible. When you get it right or wrong everybody sees it. There were also many experts around. How did you arrive at your decisions? Was it all analysis or were there intuition and gut-feel involved?

Answer:
A person who leads must accept that he has no monopoly on wisdom. He needs people around him to inform him of the real situation and he must check on the information given because sometimes the information is not necessarily good for the leader but good for the informant. You must find out if the information is true or an attempt to seek endorsement. Listen to a lot of people and read a lot. Maybe there is some intuition involved, but mostly it is because of the careful weighing of facts in a situation.

In a short period of 20 years, I had to handle many crises. For some of them, I failed. I was trained as a doctor. When I was in Alor Star, I handled an ectopic pregnancy in which the mother and the baby died. The husband thanked me anyway. I had to make a choice and I decided to operate. It turned out to be a bad decision. You cannot always make good decisions. Some decisions are good, some are bad. I learnt from my own bad decision and also the bad decisions made by other people. A Japanese asked if Malaysia still has the ‘Look East’ policy. I said “Yes, we still do because we want to learn from the wrong decisions you made!”

I got through 22 years and I did not get kicked out, but I kicked myself out. (smiles)

Question 2 (Dr Ghazali (Islamic Development Bank))
Since the crises of 1997/98 and 2008, many people do not seem to acknowledge that the rules of the game have changed. People want a new sense of domination or control be it political, economic, technical or even cultural domination. How much do our leaders want to understand that either they are contributing to human civilisation or they are destroying human civilization? For 22 years you tried very hard to tell the world that ‘Prosper thy neighbour’ is a fundamental value, that humanity is premier to our own longevity. Today’s crisis is, in a way, due to competitiveness but it destroys humanity in the long run.

My question is, do we want to survive, be secure or succeed?

Answer:
On the slogan ‘Prosper thy neighbour’, well, normally it is ‘Beggar thy neighbor’ but we discovered that if you make your neighbours rich, you become richer. It is better to prosper our neighbours than to make them poor. When our neighbours become rich, we become richer. As a trading nation, when you make people prosperous, they can buy more from you. Therefore, when you prosper your neighbours, you become more prosperous. When your neighbor is having some trouble, that trouble can spill over to you. That is why we adopted this slogan of ‘Prosper thy neighbor’ and we had benefitted much from the implementation of this philosophy.

There are people who think about domination and control because they are not able to manage the problems they face in their own country. If a country is a great producer of weapons, one of the ways to get
prosperous is to sell weapons. But if you sell weapons that people are not using, then they would not renew their orders. You are coming up with new versions of weapons that are more efficacious and you want people to use the weapon so that they will need to replenish. If you instigate wars between them and they use the weapons, then the weapon industry will grow.

Just imagine a peaceful world with no war, that would be dull. There would be no need for weapons. Weapons inventors and manufacturers will have no jobs. So, they need to stimulate crises and wars so that they can prosper by selling weapons. We wish for wars to end so that we do not waste money buying weapons. Despite the financial crisis, the world is still spending trillions of dollars buying weapons. It is a waste of money to buy weapons that we do not use; weapons do not give returns. In our case, we want to see our world at peace and prosperous.

At one time China was isolated because it was regarded as an aggressive country. They became very poor. Once they realised they needed to be at peace with their neighbours, they derived a lot of benefit from the peace. Look at China today. It has become prosperous because the Chinese do not need to produce things that kill people but instead produce things for people to enjoy at cheap prices.

Malaysia does not need to control anything outside our country. We only need to control things in our own country because if we don’t, some of us will go to Syria to join ISIS.

Peace brings much more dividends than war. War does not bring any profit or dividend.

During the last war, victors became poor and losers became rich. Look at Germany and Japan, they became very rich. I think it may be better to lose a war than to win a war.

Question : Rizal (MTEM)
This morning we were told very convincingly by a panel of experts that a crisis will happen as soon as two to five years from now. Do you think that the current leadership is equipped to survive the next crisis? If not, what is your recommendation?

Answer:
This is what I would call a loaded question! I do not want to comment on this. Otherwise, people will say, “This guy thinks he is the only one who knows how to deal with a crisis!”

Managing a country now needs more skills and knowledge than in the past. In the past, you only had to deal with politics, but now you need to deal with finances, economy and many other things. Unless you can handle all these things properly, you are going to mess up. I think we have a good chance that the present leadership in five years’ time will tell the whole world that we are not going your way.

THE END

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