The summit has the theme “Systems of Governance”, which forms the topic of discussion for the five-member panel.
“We believe the best system now is democracy. That it is all about the people and people want to be ruled by themselves,” Dr Mahathir said.
But even a democracy could function only if a good leader was at the helm, he said.
“It is not just the system but the character of the people and leaders. If you have the wrong character, you cannot make the best system work well for you.”
Malaysia was an example of a democracy that had the wrong leader, said Dr Mahathir, who did not name the wrong leader but appeared to be alluding to Najib Razak.
“Malaysia is a democracy and we have leaders chosen by the people. A prime minister who was democratically chosen by the people abused his power.
“The country suffered very badly, incurring losses in businesses and was borrowing from foreign sources. It was a lot of money which put the country in a very difficult situation.”
The Pejuang chairman said any democracy, especially in the Muslim world, should hold on to the tenets of Islam as a guide for governance and for dealing with other religions.
“(There is) not much we can adopt from the previous governments of Muslim countries as many of them were expanded through war. In the past, wars were fought regularly but that is not what is promoted by Islam.
“We should spread the religion not through violence but by showing that the Muslim religion brings success for its followers.
“In Malaysia, we are not very violent. We are rather timid people, we like to live a peaceful life. Although we have different races and religions, we decide we should be tolerant of the people around us. This is in keeping with Islam.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT