Malaysia to join BRICS, China’s Xi an ‘outstanding leader’, Anwar says

Malaysian leader criticises ‘Western narrative’ around Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim says his country will join the BRICS group of emerging economies [Richard A Brooks/AFP]Published On 18 Jun 202418 Jun 2024

Malaysia is planning to join the BRICS grouping of emerging economies, the Southeast Asian country’s leader has said.

In an interview with Chinese media outlet Guancha, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said his government would soon begin the process of joining the bloc after receiving feedback from South Africa.

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“We have made our policy clear and we have made our decision. We will start the formal process soon. As far as the Global South is concerned, we are fully supportive,” Anwar said, according to the Shanghai-based outlet.

Anwar also backed comments by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticising the dominance of the US dollar in international trade.

“Last year Malaysia had the highest investment ever, but the currency was still attacked. Well, it has eased in the past few weeks. But it doesn’t make sense, it goes against basic economic principles,” Anwar was quoted as saying.

“Why? A currency that is completely outside the trade system of the two countries and is irrelevant in terms of economic activities in the country, has become dominant, purely because it is used as an international currency.”

Founded in 2006, BRICS originally comprised Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

In January, the bloc expanded its membership to include Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In his interview, Anwar said China’s rise had “brought us a glimmer of hope that there are checks and balances in the world” and praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for recognising the importance of rejuvenating Asian values.

“When I first met President Xi Jinping, I was attracted to him because President Xi is one of the few outstanding leaders who talks about civilization. In a sense, he is unique,” he was quoted as saying.

The Malaysian leader also took aim at a “Western narrative” that he said focused excessively on Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.

“People keep talking about October 7, which annoys me. Do you want to erase 70 years of history by harping on one event? This is the Western narrative. You see, this is the problem with the West. They want to control the discourse, but we can no longer accept it because they are no longer a colonial power and independent countries should be free to express themselves,” Anwar said, according to Guancha.

Anwar made his comments before a visit by Chinese Premier Li Qiang to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia.

During Li’s three-day visit kicking off on Tuesday, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing are expected to renew a five-year economic cooperation agreement and sign deals to collaborate in areas including the digital economy and green development.

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009, with total trade last year reaching 450.84 billion ringgit ($98.90bn).

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies