Dr M predicts Australia will soon become ‘more Asian than European’
KUALA LUMPUR,. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has predicted the outlook of the Australian demographic will become “more Asian than European” in coming years, owing to active immigration from those in Asian countries.
In an interview with Australian dailies, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and The Age in Bangkok, when reminded of his past remarks, where he described Australia as an European colony that wasn’t part of Asia, the nonagenarian reportedly said: “Whatever white Australians might think of it, the fact is geographically they are more in the Asian region than in Europe.”
Dr Mahathir added that while Australians can attempt to sustain their culture and language, the inflow of Asians into the Land Down Under is certain to change the character and distribution of population there.
“And in the future, they are going to be more Asian than European,” he was quoted as saying.
Dr Mahathir is currently in Thailand for the 35th Asean Summit hosted by Thailand this year.
SMH reported that Dr Mahathir’s comments are supported by a 2016 census, which highlighted the shift in demographic trends in Australia, with more Asian migrants entering the country than those from Europe.
The report said that citizens from China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Sri Lanka were listed in Australia’s top 10 countries of birth for the overseas-born population.
When asked if Australia would become a full member of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) in future, Dr Mahathir reportedly said, “I think it will happen.”
Australia became one of the 10 dialogue partners of Asean in 1974, and Dr Mahathir had previously, vehemently rejected the former nation’s attempt to officially join the league as a member nation, reportedly saying, “They are Europeans, they cannot be Asians.”
“I don’t know whether Australia is Asia, but it may change the geography. Actually, they are Europeans, they cannot be Asians,” he was reported as saying in 2004 to reporters.
Dr Mahathir also weighed in on the economic and military tensions between China and the United States (US), reportedly conceding that the former had “to a certain extent militarised the South China Sea”.
“China has claimed the whole place without regard for countries in the region, (but) what is most important is that despite the claim, there has been no attempt to police the area, they don’t stop ships to examine (them),” Dr Mahathir said, adding that China had not enforced its claim to the territorial waters.
That meant, he said, that China had effectively not implemented its claim.
Last month, Dr Mahathir said that Malaysia and Asean will continue to push for a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute, lamenting that the increase in China and the US’ military presence in the region could destabilise the vital shipping route.
The two powerhouses, which are facing off against each other economically, have been increasing their military presence in the South China Sea in recent months.
The resource-rich sea lies within the territorial waters of several countries in South-east Asia.