KUALA LUMPUR: The world has not progressed beyond the Stone Age in spite of having moved into the Nuclear Age, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
He said that although the globalised world claimed that it had established a modern, more humane and sophisticated civilisation, the capacity to kill was still looked upon as the determinant of its strength in dealing with problems, he said.
Citing Iraq, North Korea and Palestine, he said the world still thought that the strong must dominate and the weak must submit.
“Frankly I do not think we have progressed much from the Stone Age. They used clubs and we use nuclear weapons, but the premise is still the same.
“I cannot help feeling that we have failed to learn how to cope, how to manage the world,” he said in a keynote address at the 11th Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) annual meeting at Shangri-La Hotel here yesterday.
Dr Mahathir said the world was merely aggravating the situation as it was not trying to remove the causes but creating new ones.
On Iraq, he said there was a time when Muslim countries were in agreement over the need to stop Iraqi aggressiveness but unity of purpose had now disappeared.
“Muslims see the stance against Iraq as another act of discrimination against Muslims,” he said.
He said that if Iraq were attacked not only would it distract the fight against terrorism but it was likely to increase the number of terrorists.
The Prime Minister said that there were many causes of terrorism but stressed that the principle behind it was territorial and not religious, as shown by the Palestinian struggle.
“The terrorism that assails the world today has a direct connection with the fate of the Palestinians,” he said, adding that the Israelis should know by now that defence and security measures alone would not stop the suicide bombers.
On the Sept 11 terror attacks on the United States, he said that the perpetrators had really shaken the world and it looked like everybody was going to feel fear and the consequences for a long time.
He said that this was due much more to the wrong handling of the situation than the extent of the actual damage done.
The APPF is a non-exclusive forum of national parliamentarians founded in 1991 by former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who is now its president.
Dr Mahathir also said that labelling Iraq, Iran and North Korea as axis of evil would only provoke them instead of helping to resolve problems.
Regarding North Korea, he said that while it had admitted to having nuclear capability, it was not being threatened with war as Iraq is.
Although threat of war on North Korea was not the answer, the accommodating attitude towards it was going to anger the Muslims, he added.
On the other hand, Dr Mahathir said, when North Korea agreed to co-operate and end its nuclear programme, the move was not appreciated, condemnation of the country was not eased nor had food and other aid been given.
However, he said, North Korea, which had recently adopted a belligerent attitude, was still part of the global village and getting its co-operation was important.
“Cutting off supplies of food and other necessities will not bring it to its knees. Perhaps we can nuclear bomb it out of existence; but that would be a confession of our failure,” he said.