Speech

Transcript: Speech at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister David Cameron delivers speech at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia.

As I said in Jakarta this morning, there is a great global opportunity right now to demonstrate that democracy doesn’t endanger stability, moderation and prosperity; but is indeed the best foundation for it. That democracy offers an alternative to both dictatorship and extremism. And that following the example of the Global Movement of Moderates, young people across the world should be inspired to chose democracy as their future. This would be the greatest defeat that al-Qaeda and its affiliates could ever suffer. They fear democracy, they fear choice, they fear young people being inspired by that vision more than anything else. And that to me is what the Global Movement of Moderates and your leadership, Prime Minister, can help us to bring about.

Thank you very much for listening.

Question

Mr Cameron, I hear you’re ending your tour of Asia in Burma. And I was just wondering what you’re going to be doing to strengthen relations between the UK and Burma when you visit?

Prime Minister

Well, Britain has historically had very strong relations with Burma for obvious historical reasons. In recent years, we’ve obviously had very difficult relations because Britain has taken the view that the regime in Burma was an undemocratic regime, was one that held back the forces of democracy and freedom, that imprisoned people who spoke out on political issues and that placed Aung San Suu Kyi effectively under continual and repeated house arrest.

But what I see happening in Burma is a potential flowering of freedom and democracy. And I think from everything I’ve seen - although I will see for myself tomorrow - it seems as if the President of Burma is intent on taking a new path and wants to see a progressive flourishing of freedom and democracy. And those aren’t just my words or the words of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, that is the feeling of Aung San Suu Kyi who has suffered incredibly a long and lonely but incredibly dignified struggle for democracy.

So, I hope that following my meetings tomorrow I will have the confidence to go back to my country, to go back to others in the European Union and argue that the change in Burma is irreversible: that they are set on a path towards democracy. That in a world of difficulty and darkness and all sorts of problems, here is one bright light that we should encourage and we should respond in a way that makes that regime feel that it is moving in the right direction and the world is on its side.

Question

Do you think that Burma would be more likely to follow the direction of democracy if Britain had done something earlier?

Prime Minister

Well, I think that I would argue that Britain has played quite a leadership role in having a tough approach to the Burmese regime. We have often led the arguments in the European Union for putting sanctions in place and for putting embargoes in place and for the motions and other things we’ve done both through the European Union and at the UN. So, I think if you want to look around for countries that have not taken a tough approach against the Burmese regime, I think you’d have to look elsewhere than the United Kingdom.

Najib Razak

I would just like to - the word ‘irreversible’ was actually used by President Thein Sein when I had a four-eyed meeting with him. So, my assessment is I told Prime Minister Cameron that the path towards reform and more inclusive democracy is the path that they are committed to. And whether it’s because of tough sanctions or because of the ASEAN way, which is more conciliatory, is arguable. But what is important is that they have decided to make real reform and real change is taking place there.

Question

Hi. What is Global Movement of Moderates doing about Syria?

Najib Razak

I think we will not be country specific, but we are concerned - obviously concerned about what is happening in Syria. Our position is that there must be a political solution, violence must stop, intervention diplomatically should be done, some tough sanctions be put into place. Syria must receive a strong message that they need to comply with the demands of the international community. But as far as the Movement is concerned, we just want to spread the meaning of moderation so that more and more people will realise the importance of being committed towards moderation as a way of life as well as a solution towards solving any problems in the world.

Prime Minister

I very much agree with that. I think the strength of the Global Movement for Moderates is that the problem we face in the world, if you look behind the terrorism, the problem is an idea, is an ideology. That somehow you achieve your goals and greater purity through an ideological extremism. And to me, the strength of the Global Movement of Moderates is that it is trying to take on and defeat that idea. That’s not to say there aren’t important things we have to do to combat the fact of terrorism: cooperation between like-minded countries. It’s not to say we don’t have to deal with some of the very strong issues that concern people around the world - and I mention Palestine, but we could mention many others - but there’s an idea that lies behind even that: this idea of political extremism and this warped version of Islam, that the Prime Minister, I think, has set his face against and this movement can have such a strong impact in arguing against.

Question

Honourable Prime Ministers, it’s a pleasure for you to be here. My question, is, first of all, Mr Cameron, you did mention that multiculturalism has failed and British people should adopt more British values while on the other hand, Prime Minister Najib has embraced multiculturalism and put forth the idea of ‘one Malaysia’. My question is what are the values that British and Malaysian people can possibly embrace together?

Prime Minister

I think we’re really not disagreeing on this at all. I think there is a linguistic issue that I need to explain. What I argued in my speech in Munich is that the approach we have taken in Britain in years gone past - what I would call a state multiculturalism - where we’ve said to people coming to Britain, we’ve kept them in separate silos and we’ve treated Somalis as Somalis rather than British Somalis, or we’ve treated Pakistanis as Pakistanis rather than British Pakistanis. That has been wrong. And we need instead - I was very struck actually at the lunch by the way you put the arguments about ‘one Malaysia’ - we need an approach that says whoever comes to our country, of course they don’t give up all their culture, all their heritage. But they should be part of building one single and stronger society - a British society and I think that’s exactly the argument you’re making here in Malaysia. So I use the term ‘state multiculturalism’ to describe what is wrong in the past. But I suspect we’d have very similar views on how you actually try and build a strong and cohesive society where you have to build an identity for everyone.

Najib Razak

Yes indeed, we do have - we are on the same page because you know we believe in the idea that the there must be a sense of belonging and whilst we celebrate diversity, whilst we are at ease with diversity, there must be one common thread that binds people together. Otherwise we’ll be working at odds with one another, we’ll be living in silos, but there is no sense of togetherness binding us as one community with one dream, one goal and that’s what ‘one Malaysia’ is all about.