Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the State Dinner in Parliament House, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

October 30, 1966

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, the Honorable Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen:

We have traveled more than 15,000 miles since we left home 2 weeks ago and tonight we are near the end of our journey through Asia. Soon we will return to our own America.

Nowhere in our travels have we found greater expectations than here in your own country of Malaysia.

For here the promises of a new nation are very bright. Here the accomplishments of orderly and revolutionary development are quite real.

Fifteen years ago the city where we spent the night was a dry in conflict. You were absorbed in fighting the terrorists. Your streets were filled with soldiers and your hospitals were filled with the wounded.

Malaysia was traveling that difficult road along which one of your great neighbors--South Vietnam--tonight toils with such sacrifice.

Yet here today, we have seen what the future can hold for a troubled country.

We see a bright and thriving, modern capital-bursting with energy. We see an inspiring new mosque--symbolizing your trust in God. We see a beautiful new museum-showing your great respect for a very rich past. We see new buildings and new industries that mark your great economic advance and progress.

Three of the world's great peoples have come together here in your nation. They are people who differ in many ways, but who have the will to live together in peace and harmony and with a sense of nationhood.

I know of your many great accomplishments:

--how you have given rural development and education first priority in your federal budget;

--how you have made land available to the landless;

--how you have improved rural health services and rural education for the needy.

You have impressed the entire world with your determination to close the gap between the rich and poor of your own nation--especially by giving the impoverished countryside a chance to share in the growing of the nation and in the promise of the nation. You knew the formula was complicated, you knew it required roads, schools, fair prices for the farmer, available credit, chemical fertilizers, the opportunity for farmers to own land--all of these things together. And you have set about providing them with both imagination and skill.

So, tonight, thank God, Malaysia is at peace.

And equally important, your nation is reaching outward to its neighbors in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The recent agreement to end Indonesia's confrontation with your country is a historic achievement.

Six years ago Malaysia joined with Thailand and the Philippines in the Association of Southeast Asia, to foster closer cultural and economic ties.

Some said then that the association was ahead of its time.

But it is now clear that ASA was the first step in a larger movement toward common efforts to meet the problems and to realize the promise of Southeast Asia. This movement is now sweeping through Asia.

Asia, like other parts of the world, has for centuries been divided by local and narrow national rivalries. Differences and divisions were more important than common problems and aspirations.

And now all of that is changing. As a Malaysian statesman said: "Every nation, every group within a nation, has a direct and vital role to play in the coming struggle for unity and plenty."

Malaysia is playing such a role today. If ASA was a symbol of a new era, Malaysia itself is--in another sense--a symbol of a new hope.

You have demonstrated that an independent nation can rise from long years of bitter struggle against Communist terror to create economic prosperity and to lead in regional cooperation.

For a weary and wartorn land across the South China Sea, Malaysia stands tonight as a symbol of what is possible--and what surely will come to pass.

Throughout Asia, men long to turn aside from fear and turmoil and bloodshed. They seek only the works of peace--a goal that sometimes seems too distant to be attainable.

While I have been in Asia the Communist Chinese have exploded another nuclear weapon, which they state was attached to a missile.

We can only regard the pursuit of national nuclear power by too large a part of the underdeveloped world as a tragedy. For bread is the need of millions who face starvation every day, and bombs are too often purchased at the price of bread.

The pursuit of a national nuclear capability not only makes international arms control, including a nuclear test ban and a nonproliferation treaty, vastly more difficult; it also invites danger to China itself. For the leaders of China must realize that any nuclear capability they can develop can-and will--be deterred. We have already declared that nations which do not seek national nuclear weapons can be sure that they will have our strong support, if they need it, against any threat of nuclear blackmail.

We hope very much that mainland China, like other developing nations, will concentrate its resources on economic development. In this way a truly modern China can emerge on the Mainland. For a peaceful China has nothing to fear from any of us. A peaceful China can expect our friendship and our cooperation. A reckless China can expect vigilance and strength.

All of Asia will gain when the day comes to pass that China is at peace with her neighbors and free from the fears and the suspicions that tonight keep her isolated from the rest of the world.

My friends, I shall forever cherish the memory of this delightful day that I have spent in your land and the reception that you have given me--and Mrs. Johnson--as the representatives of the American people.

The ties that link the Malaysian and American peoples can only become stronger as we pursue our common goals:

--as we build democracy and protect freedom;

--as we resist aggression and subversion;

--as we seek an end to world tensions; and

--as we strive to eliminate ignorance and illiteracy, disease and poverty.

As you move forward, please know--all of you in Malaysia--that you have the friendship of my people.

This has been a pleasant and exciting day and Mrs. Johnson and I shall carry away with us beautiful memories of your land and your people.

May I ask you to join with me in raising your glasses to the King.

Note: The President spoke at a state dinner in Parliament House, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In his opening words he referred to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, King of Malaysia, the Queen, and Tunku (Prince) Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the State Dinner in Parliament House, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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