Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Advises Europe on its Sliding Economy

By: Tasnim Nazeer

The West has always been at the forefront in advising on the best ways to manage the economy in Asia and other countries around the world. However, the tables have now turned since the economic recession with many western countries continually lagging behind in economic stability and growth.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad recently stated in an interview with the BBC that,

Europe… has lost a lot of money and therefore you must be poor now relative to the past”. 

He further went on to add,

“And in Asia we live within our means. So when we are poor, we live as poor people. I think that is a lesson that Europe can learn from Asia.”

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With the arousal of the recession Europe could take heed from the sound economic advice from Dr. Mahathir, as the west continues to suffer from the affects of the global recession, which were first witnessed in Denmark in 2009.

With unemployment on the rise and many families living under difficult financial circumstances it is imperative that measures are implemented to fix the ongoing economic crisis. Dr. Mahathir believes that European workers are overpaid for the amount of work they do and went on to say that.

I think you should go back to doing what I call real business – producing goods, providing services, trading – not just moving figures in bank books, which is what you are doing.”

Malaysia’s economy however, is thriving as the country has built up financial stability over the years and is unprecedented as being one the most prosperous Islamic financial hubs to date. During Dr. Mahathir’s governance, he had built up Malaysia as a powerful financial hub and believes in being realistic in economic dealings as he stated,

“And in Asia we live within our means. So when we are poor, we live as poor people. I think that is a lesson that Europe can learn from Asia.”

Dr. Mahathir believes that Europe is in a state of denial about the current economic situation and stated that,  “you refuse to acknowledge you have lost money and therefore you are poor,” he says.

Much to the dislike of European leaders the former Malaysian Prime Minister’s message is one that is firm but true and perhaps the West could really learn a thing or two from the economy in Malaysia. Dr. Mahathir stated on his final note that,

we were Euro-centric before. I think it should be a little bit Asia-centric now.”

The economy in the West is still relatively slow and much of the problem was also due to the amount of interest (Riba) that accumulated during the financial crisis. Many Islamic banks avoided the full effects of the economic crisis for this reason as interest is strictly prohibited in Islamic finance and therefore perhaps the solution lies in the best methods of financing and dealing with the overall economy. If we look back at the principles of financing in the Shariah there may be a more lucrative method of managing the economy at large.

About the Author:

Tasnim Nazeer is a Freelance Journalist/Writer who has written for a variety of print and online publications including CNN International, The Huffington Post and The Muslim News. She is currently a Financial Reporter for Business Media Group’s Global Islamic Finance Magazine. She was short listed for the Young Journalist of the Year 2011 at the Muslim Writers Awards. For more information visit her website at


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3 responses to “Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Advises Europe on its Sliding Economy”

  1. shiney says:

    this was very interesting indeed…i remember from an Al-Maghrib class that the shaykh told us about Malaysia’s Prime Minister’s amazing leadership skills. He quoted him saying something like, “…I invested in my own people and I see the [good] results of it.”

  2. Richard Prior says:

    Great reminder…in my opinion many women get caught up with the “buy & spend” consumerist ideology which is often targeted at them as well as other segments in advertising, often including young children from an early age as well. When this happens and people think money will by them anything even spending money in an effort to make themselves happy, then those people may find themselves on a very slippery slope. Of course, men are not immune… though men in the West usually spend their money on non-essential items such as booze, cigarettes and fast food, not to mention gambling and the latest gadget or ‘mod-con’… with this style of living and with the addition of added credit/overdraft balances its not surprising people are becoming poorer overall… they are spending more than they can afford… and may people are in denial because they don’t want to think about how much they are spending and whether or not they can pay it back… which is the responsible thing to do. With denial comes the deceptive illusion that everything is ok and theres no problem… which leaves for a rude awakening when its too late to fix things and theres no turning back. This leads people inevitably to other vices, with the added burden of stress, people will often be more on edge and have shorter fuses and quicker tempers leading to arguments that may start off with something simple but may quickly get out of hand as other things get said in the heat of an argument which once said cannot be unsaid leading to hurt and further distress. What often intrigues me is how the West once was appealing to the world because of its pioneering modernisation and innovation or simply because of a variation of an “American-dream” style wish, but those of us living in the West know how much hell there is to pay, before we can buy our freedom. Nice article though, as a freelancer myself I can understand what thats like, although I’ve yet to get the “big break” people seem to expect, and sometimes I think there is more virtue in the humility of poverty than continued indulgences of those who think they have more money. There comes a time when these indulgences will have to end, and there is only a limit to how far they will go.. please God don’t let the temptations of this world seduce us away from Thy path of virtue and let this be a reminder for those teetering on the brink of an unstable foundation that anything which takes us over the edge should be taken as a warning sign for to us not to go there. Riba is haram but its just one of many things on that slippery slope…

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