In his forthcoming visit to Japan next week, Mahathir should lecture the Japanese not to be worse than “Banana People” – yellow outside but white inside

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): In his forthcoming visit to Japan next week, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should lecture the Japanese not to be worse than “Banana People” – yellow outside but white inside.

In a  Bernama report on Monday titled  ”Dr Mahathir's Visit To Tokyo Much Awaited By Japanese” the Japanese  ambassador to Malaysia, Masaki Konishi, said that during his  two-day official visit beginning next Wednesday, Mahathir would deliver two key-note addresses: one at a seminar to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Look East Policy and the other, at a symposium entitled “Islam: Fostering Peace” at the United Nations University.

Konishi said many Japanese “highly appreciate Dr Mahathir's wisdom, experience and leadership… as  an outstanding Asian statesman” and were eager to listen to his  views on how Malaysia and Japan could enhance ties as Asia undergoes great changes and faces new challenges.


In his forthcoming visit to Japan next week, Mahathir should lecture the Japanese not to be worse than “Banana People” – yellow outside but white inside.


Yesterday, the just-promoted Deputy Information Minister and new propaganda czar,  Datuk Zainudin Maidin said Asian nations should be thankful to Australian Prime Minister John Howard for creating a new awakening among Asians.


He  said this  new awakening, which  differed from the rise of Afro-Asianism in the past, which focused more on socialism and communism,  has created a drastic reawakening of the Asian conscience in the new millennium.

Howard had said that as part of efforts to protect Australians from terrorist attacks, he would launch pre-emptive strikes at terrorist suspects in neighbouring countries, ignoring the concept of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.


Zainuddin said the Australian Prime Minister's statement should not be viewed only from a negative aspect but should be considered positively as Asian nations indeed needed a jolt to rekindle their conscience from outside particularly from the West.

Zainuddin said Asian nations should indeed rise up and be more conscious of the need to strengthen their respective economies for the Western nations themselves had termed the new millennium as the millennium for the rise of Asia.


He said to realise the objectives of progress and development, Asian nations should not become anyone's tools but rather should stand on their own strength.

Zainudin said through the Howard statement Asian nations could gauge the Asian spirit in them, for at present each of them had its own stance. Countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines had risen to protest this humiliation but others had remained silent.

He added: " This is what is meant by the banana skin being yellow on the outside but enclosing a white fruit inside."   (New Straits Times report today explained that the term  “’Banana’ describes a person who believes that he is white”.)


By the Zainudin yardstick, Japan would be worse than “Banana People”, as the Japanese had committed  a greater sin than being  silent by publicly supporting  Howard  –  causing the  Australian media  to describe it as the “first backing from Asia” for Howard’s pre-emptive strike statement.


The Japanese endorsement for Howard was given by Japan's counter-terrorism ambassador, Hiroshi Shigeta, who said in Tokyo yesterday that  he was "comfortable" with Australia's position, which he said had originally been misrepresented by journalists.

Shigeta said when he read a full transcript of Howard's remarks, he considered Australia was "in favour of respecting international law."


The Japanese are still remembered in Malaysia  for the “Japanese banana notes” during the Japanese Occupation which were  worthless currency.  They should not degenerate to be worse than Zainuddin’s “Banana People”.

Mahathir should seek to alter the Japanese official  support for Howard’s provocative and arrogant stand on pre-emptive strike during his visit and lectures in Japan next week.  If Mahathir cannot get the Japanese government to come out officially to support the stand taken by Malaysia and the Philippines deploring Howard’s pre-emptive strike statement, then his visit to Japan cannot be regarded as successful.



* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman