13 September 2018
Twenty days after he was elected to the country’s highest office for the second time, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad made an official visit to Indonesia. By the standards of Southeast Asian diplomacy, that was fast. He received a red-carpet welcome from Indonesian President Joko Widodo, 40 years his junior and a political neophyte compared to the Malaysian nonagenarian.
During his visit, Mahathir made a geopolitically significant proposition: Malaysia and Indonesia should join forces to oppose pressure from Europe on the global palm oil industry. As the world’s top producers, the two Southeast Asian neighbours dominate the global palm oil market. “Our palm oil is threatened by Europe and we need to oppose them together,” he said at a joint press conference with President Joko (also known as Jokowi). Within weeks, the Malaysian and Indonesian foreign ministers met to follow up on a plan to counter the European Union’s move to phase out the use of biofuel in transport fuels.
…Yang Razali Kassim is Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. An earlier version of this first appeared in the Liechtenstein-based geopolitical website gisreportsonline.com. This is part of an RSIS series on Malaysia’s 14th General Election and its Aftermath.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 19/09/2018