KL to reassess troops' presence in Saudi Arabia

PETALING JAYA • The Malaysian government is reassessing the decision of the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration to station Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) troops in Saudi Arabia.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu yesterday said the ATM team was on stand-by to evacuate Malaysians from Yemen.

"Malaysia has never been involved in the attack on Yemen, which is also a Muslim country. Nevertheless, the ATM presence in Saudi Arabia has indirectly mired Malaysia in the Middle East conflict," he said in a statement.

Mr Mohamad said Malaysia had always practised a neutral policy, and that the country does not side with the political ideology of any of the world's superpowers.

He added that the Malaysian government has been actively involved in the Non-Aligned Movement and even chaired it once.

"The government will make a decision on the matter in the near future after a re-evaluation has been completed," he said.

He did not say how many Malaysian troops are in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Hishammuddin Hussein, the defence minister in the previous BN government, said in October last year that Malaysian troops would remain in Saudi Arabia to provide humanitarian assistance and contribute to rebuilding efforts in Yemen if required.

He said in a speech in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, at the "The Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen" conference that the ATM forces were initially based in Riyadh to provide assistance in the evacuation of Malaysians in Yemen.

"However, in the light of the current situation, I have instructed the Malaysian Armed Forces to remain in the kingdom, ever-ready to provide humanitarian assistance and possibly contribute to rebuilding efforts in Yemen if required," he said at the time.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2018, with the headline 'KL to reassess troops' presence in Saudi Arabia'. Print Edition | Subscribe