All eyes on Dr M’s return to UN assembly

Wong Sai Wan
On Wednesday, Dr Mahathir will converse with members of the US Council of Foreign Relations in the morning, during which he will speak about 'New Malaysia' as well as its relations with the US and Asian neighbours. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

NEW YORK, Sept 24 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has spoken at the United Nations General Assembly numerous times, but on Friday, it will be as though his first, with the world and country watching his speech for the tone it will set for “New Malaysia’s” foreign policy.

“Even we in Wisma Putra are looking forward to his speech, and we will take our cue from there on establishing our policies,” said Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah in a briefing for Malaysian media ahead of the prime minister’s working visit here.

He expects Dr Mahathir to include some old favourites in the address — such as Africa and global trade practices — but also touch on new issues like sustainable development goals as well as human rights.

The world, said Saifuddin, will want to hear what Dr Mahathir has to say at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly.

While his ministry will supply the prime minister with some input, the minister stressed that it will very much be “Tun’s speech”

“You know that he writes all his own speeches. He writes it on an A4 sheet of paper, with his Pilot pen and written in beautiful, cursive longhand. It will be his own speech.”

Dr Mahathir’s trip here will not only be to the UN; he has lined up two speaking engagements daily for the duration of his visit.

Numerous heads of government have also written to seek appointments for bilateral engagements or sideline meetings with Dr Mahathir, but Wisma Putra is still trying to juggle his schedule.

It is understood that as of last week, Dr Mahathir was already booked for 16 programmes including interviews with The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. This does not yet include meetings with fellow leaders.

Saifuddin declined to name any of the leaders who will meet Dr Mahathir.

On Wednesday, Dr Mahathir will converse with members of the US Council of Foreign Relations in the morning, during which he will speak about “New Malaysia” as well as its relations with the US and Asian neighbours. Next is the Bloomberg Global Business Forum on “Emerging Global Trade Relationships”.

The following day, the prime minister will be at the Asia Society to will deliver an address entitled “Insights on how Malaysia will meet the challenges confronting the security, prosperity and sustainability in Asia.”

He will give a keynote at the “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: Unleashing the Potentials of Islamic Finance” event at the UN headquarters here. It is jointly organised by the Security Commission of Malaysia, the UN Development Programme and Islamic Development Bank.

Besides Saifuddin, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad are part of the Malaysian delegation. All three will have individual itineraries while here.

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