Malaysian PM Mahathir says growing countries need different trade protections

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that different economies needed different rules in order to compete fairly with giants such as the US and China. (Reuters)
Updated 11 June 2018
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Malaysian PM Mahathir says growing countries need different trade protections

TOKYO: Growing nations like Malaysia need different trade protections and, while Kuala Lumpur is not against trade pacts such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP must be renegotiated, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday.
Mahathir, 92, became premier for the second time last month after Malaysians, angered over accusations of massive corruption, voted out a coalition that had led the country for the six decades since independence.
Mahathir told an international seminar in Tokyo on his first foreign trip since the election that different economies needed different rules in order to compete fairly with giants such as the US and China.
“Small countries cannot compete on the same terms as bigger countries,” he said on the second day of a three-day visit, during which he will woo Japanese investment and meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other officials.
“We are not completely against the TPP but it needs to be re-negotiated ... so that smaller countries would have the chance to compete because they would be given certain handicaps,” he said.
Mahathir said the ideal would be a broad trade pact such as the East Asian Economic Caucus (EAEC) he proposed during his previous administration.
“Yes, I am still in favor of EAEC. In the past, of course, we were not able to do this due to the objections of America, but now America seems to become isolationist again so it is not in a position to demand that we cannot form EAEC,” he said.
Such a group would also be useful in the face of China’s surging economic power.
Mahathir’s visit is seen as a sign of Malaysia’s move away from China, which contentiously pumped billions of dollars into the scandal-tainted administration of ousted leader Najib Razak.
The new government has said some Chinese companies are under suspicion of being used to cover up the graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that contributed to Najib’s downfall.
Mahathir said foreign direct investment should involve bringing in capital and ideas.
“We have to deal with China whether we like it or not, we should deal with it as a group,” he said.
Mahathir did not make any reference to the 1MDB investigations.
He said Malaysia hoped to possibly start a new national car project, perhaps with help from Southeast Asia, but did not give further details.
State-owned Proton was founded in 1983 during an industrialization push in Mahathir’s first term. Its domestic market share peaked at 74 percent a decade later but Geely bought 49.9 percent of the struggling carmaker last year, marking the Chinese automaker’s first push into Southeast Asia.
Mahathir praised the peaceful transition since the election and said he would stay in power as long as the people of Malaysia wanted him.


Tesla shares fall after CEO Musk abuses British diver

Updated 17 July 2018
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Tesla shares fall after CEO Musk abuses British diver

  • The billionaire entrepreneur’s spat with British diver Vernon Unsworth started last week, after rescue teams rejected Musk’s offer of a mini-submarine created by his rocket company SpaceX
  • Musk gave no evidence for alleging Unsworth was a pedophile

NEW YORK: Shares of Tesla Inc. fell 2.75 percent on Monday after Chief Executive Elon Musk directed abuse on Twitter at one of the British cave divers involved in the rescue of 12 Thai children last week.
A number of analysts and investors, requesting anonymity, told Reuters that Musk’s comments are adding to their concerns that his public statements are distracting him from Tesla’s main business of producing electric cars. The stock sell-off knocked almost $2 billion off the company’s market value.
Tesla shares closed at $310.10 before rising 1.9 percent in after-hours trading.
James Anderson, a partner at Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder, asset manager Baillie Gifford, called the weekend’s events “a regrettable instance” and said he had reiterated to the company the need for “peace and execution” of its core business.
The billionaire entrepreneur’s spat with British diver Vernon Unsworth started last week, after rescue teams rejected Musk’s offer of a mini-submarine created by his rocket company SpaceX to help rescue a 12-member soccer team and their coach trapped inside a flooded cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai.
“He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” CNN reported Unsworth as saying. “It just has absolutely no chance of working.”
Musk shot back on Sunday on Twitter: “We will make one (video) of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.” The tweet was later deleted.
Tesla spokespeople and lawyers did not respond to emails and phone calls from Reuters requesting comment on Musk’s comments on Twitter.
Musk gave no evidence for alleging Unsworth was a pedophile. Unsworth said he would consider taking legal action against Musk over the remarks, in comments filmed in Chiang Rai on Monday by Australia’s 9News. Reuters could not reach Unsworth for comment.
Unsworth’s wife told Reuters on Monday that her husband was returning to Britain on July 19, where he will speak to lawyers.
Last week, Narongsak Osottanakorn, the leader of the rescue operation in Thailand, rejected Musk’s mini-submarine as not suitable for the task. Musk responded on Twitter on July 10, calling Osottanakorn “not the subject matter expert.”
Musk also regularly uses Twitter to criticize media reports on Tesla, which has struggled to meet its own production targets for its Model 3 sedan, which is seen as key to the company’s profitability.