KUALA LUMPUR - Nations of the world are now facing a new threat of terrorism from groups or corporations trying to destabilise economies.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said with rising costs and interdependence of countries' economies, it no longer made sense for any country or global power to go to war as they had too much to lose.
But with the rising ease of communication and travel between nations or continents, he said countries now face the menace of economic terrorism.
"Efforts to destabilise nations' economies by individuals, groups or corporations are fast becoming a threat.
"By destabilising the economy, the people of a country will be subjected to riots, rallies and protests, crippling its stability.
"This will prevent development and create an unsafe environment for trade, finance and investment," he said at the opening of the Putrajaya Forum themed "Enhancing Multilateralism for Regional Defence and Security".
The forum was held on the sidelines of the Defence Services Asia exhibition at the Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.
Zahid said economic terrorism could result in violence, creating unrest in the country.
"Economic terrorism can either have immediate effect or carry physical or psychological effect, the consequences of which can cause the destruction of the economy and finances of a nation," he said.
On the subject of regional cooperation, the minister said Malaysia and the other Asean member states had instituted a number of platforms such as the Asean Regional Forum.
"These platforms have brought greater transparency in handling sensitive issues within Asean member states or with countries outside Asean," he said.
He said several initiatives have been implemented including joint border patrols and multilateral efforts to combat piracy and transnational crime.
"From these efforts, we see that one country's interest has also become another country's interest. As such, national interest is becoming more and more about collective interest," he added.
The task, he said, was to reflect this in a common and practical approach to improve relationships and strengthen the Asean principle of "prosper thy neighbour" as practised since 1967.