KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — The prolonged protests in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong shows the limits of having two different models of government within one country, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
The prime minister also expressed concern that Beijing may resort to military force to quell the ongoing protests that have at times descended into violence, the Associated Press reported last night.
“I never thought that a country with two different systems can really work for any length of the time, and sure enough this has happened.
“If they cannot handle this and this does not stop and the demands become more and more for autonomy or independence, then I think the Chinese will not tolerate that,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in Kyoto, Japan where he received an honorary doctorate from Doshisha University and visited several tech companies.
The prime minister was previously in Russia for an economic forum in its far east city of Vladivostok and from there flew straight to Japan on Thursday for a three-day working visit.
Hong Kong, one of China’s special administrative regions, has been rocked since June by street protests that have disrupted daily life as well as both air and land travel.
The protests are over opposition to a proposed extradition law that will allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, which anti-establishment activists claim violates their democratic rights.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has since announced the withdrawal of the extradition Bill, but protesters now say demonstrations will continue until the government meet their other demands, including a call for greater democracy, an independent probe to alleged police brutality during the protests, and the unconditional release of those detained during the protests.
Similar pro-autonomy groups have risen in Malaysia in recent years, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, demanding decentralisation from Putrajaya on various aspects such as education.