July 10, 2012
COMMENT: Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should not accept this award since it was not initiated by the current government (Hezbollah government). This was the result of lobby efforts by a third non official party. For this reason, the award ceremony will not be in Beirut, but in New York. Neither the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon nor any UN Agency will be involved.
While on the subject of Lebanon where we have stationed our troops under the UN banner, I recall that some time in 1998, Tun Dr. Mahathir granted the Hariri Government a loan of US500 million. The Cabinet endorsed the said loan after the decision was made by the Prime Minister.
No details were available at that time, and now, about the tenure of the loan, the rate of interest and other conditions or the status to this major loan to a politically troubled country.
Our Finance Ministry, I am told, is aware that the Lebanese authorities have asked Malaysia for a rescheduling of the interest, twice. Read here, here .They asked again in 2011 and Bank Negara Malaysia turned that request down. Instead of negotiating to lower the rate of interest on other loans from Europe, they wanted Malaysia to reduce its rate of interest to well below the prevailing rating for Lebanon.
Lebanon is still owing Malaysia. For the time being, fortunately it is servicing the interest on the said loan. But the situation there is so dire that Lebanon may eventually ask for debt forgiveness. And that means Malaysia may have eventually to write off this loan. It is time for our government own up to this possibility. At the same time, Tun Dr. Mahathir should give us an explanation why he put the rakyat’s money at risk by granting this loan to Lebanon.–Din Merican
The Sun Daily reports (July 8, 2012):
Tun Dr. Mahathir wins 2012 Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award
He was selected out of 13 other nominations from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, United States, Canada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, India, Bangladesh, UK, Japan and the Philippines by the award steering committee on June 29.
He will be honoured in an award ceremony in New York on September 28, 2012.
“The per capita income in Malaysia during his time increased eight times. The model of thinking to get out of problems and crisis was almost the same as that of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri,” said International Jury chairman Mervat Tallawy in a press statement on the UN-Habitat website.
The statement noted that during Mahathir’s time in office, Malaysia underwent rapid modernisation and economic progress. He was a dominant political figure and won five consecutive general elections, and remains politically active after retirement.
“Malaysia was on the way to considerable economic progress during Mahathir’s time. It is recognised that he significantly influenced other developing countries to show how it is possible to develop rapidly in a very short time,” said UN-Habitat scientific adviser Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka.
The Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award was jointly established with the Rafik Hariri Foundation and UN-Habitat in March 2009 in memory of the late Lebanese Prime Minister.
It is given to individuals, organisations or institutions anywhere in the world for significant accomplishments in the areas of: leadership, statesmanship and good governance, construction and benevolent activities in fighting urban poverty, and the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.
The award is presented biennially and the prize consists of a cash award of US$200,000, a trophy and a certificate. The previous winner of the award was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.