Mahathir makes appearance at Nikkei event, says Ukraine conflict risks escalating to world war

Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaking during an international conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo, on May 27, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday (May 27) made a surprise public appearance at a business conference organised by media firm Nikkei in Tokyo, to offer his take on the war in Ukraine and on his own health and longevity.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine risks escalating into another world war, he warned at Nikkei's Future of Asia conference.

"I am afraid that wars have a habit of beginning small and then (growing) into world wars," he said.

Conflicts should be resolved through dialogue rather than force, he added.

"Wars do not stop other wars. So I do hope… we'll end up with people coming to their senses, stopping the war and negotiating a termination of the war, as well as solving the conflicts within Asia."

On China's role in the conflict, he said Beijing "tends to be more sympathetic towards Russia than the United States, because China has a trade war with America".

But China does want the war to end soon "because peace has benefited China greatly", he said.

Tun Dr Mahathir, who has a history of heart ailments and was in and out of hospital between December and February, said he has recovered well enough to keep going at work.

"One has to be active - active in every way," said Dr Mahathir, who will turn 97 in July.

"If you're active, although you may be a little bit sick, but you're active you're up and about reading, writing, debating, making speeches and all that, all this time you use your brain. The brain remains active, like the muscles," he said.

"When you use the brain, it becomes very well."

He also urged people to quit smoking and stop eating too much.

Dr Mahathir has had many health scares in recent years. 

He checked in at Malaysia's National Heart Institute (IJN) in December for "investigations" before an unspecified elective procedure on Jan 8.

He was later admitted for a third time that same month.

In March, he said in a speech: "It is a miracle. I didn't expect to live, I expected that I would die because I am old and also suffering from serious diseases affecting… my heart… But somehow, the doctors turned me around and eventually I was discharged and am quite well - not 100 per cent, but enough for me to continue with the little work that I have to do."

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