KUALA LUMPUR – The government has stopped the distribution of a comic book entitled Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism in schools because it does not want Malaysian youths to be influenced by a foreign ideology, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“We do not want our people to think that after being influenced by the West before, we have now become influenced by China.
“I believe that China will have a great influence over the whole world in the future but, for the moment, it is not for us to promote Chinese ideas and ideology,” the prime minister said during the question-and-answer session at the ISIS Malaysia Praxis Conference here today.
Asked to comment on the distribution of the comic in secondary and vernacular schools, Dr Mahathir replied that it is not good to influence the minds of Malaysian youths.
“The young people must understand the problems, strategies and the policies of their own country first so that when they come up against other people, they know their place.
“As much as we do not want the influence of the West in our strategies in our schools, we also do not want other countries to have undue influence over our young people,” he said.
The Education Ministry has clarified that it did not give approval for the distribution of the comic and said that all state education departments and district education offices have been instructed to ensure that all schools do not accept or distribute them.
The Prime Minister’s Office has stated that Dr Mahathir was never involved in the publication of the comic book and had no idea about its content.
“In the comic book, there is a picture of Dr Mahathir with notes stating that it was a gift from him to China President Xi Jinping during their meeting on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Summit and Forum in Beijing in April.
“The PMO would like to state that the book was not an official gift during the meeting and it (the comic) was brought in without going through proper procedures and channels,” the PMO statement said.
It said Dr Mahathir had never given permission for his pictures to be used for any purpose or for the comic book to be distributed in schools.
The Home Ministry has also responded by stating that it is investigating the distribution of the comic book claimed to carry elements of propaganda.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia has always regarded China as a friend, except in the early days of independence when it had to deal with China’s communist ideology which Malaysia does not subscribe to.
However, after China adopted new policies which had benefited the country, turning it into the world’s second-largest economy, Malaysia saw that it was a good opportunity to continue having good relations with the country, he said.