Malaysian PM Mahathir speaks out against India's new citizenship law

This was the second time in recent months that Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had commented on an issue sensitive to India. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has spoken out against India's recently-approved citizenship legislation, which appears discriminatory towards Muslims.

"I am sorry to see that India, which claims to be a secular state, is now taking action to deprive some Muslims of their citizenship."

"If we do that here, you know what will happen. There will be chaos, there will be instability and everyone will suffer," he told reporters after visiting the media centre at the Kuala Lumpur Summit on Friday (Dec 20).

"Already people are dying because of this law, so why is there a necessity to do this when all this while, for 70 years almost, they have lived together as citizens without any problems," he added.

India's Parliament recently passed a law which offers citizenship to migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan - but not if they are Muslims.

Tun Dr Mahathir added that Malaysia has granted citizenships to people from the Chinese and Indian communities.

This was the second time in recent months that Dr Mahathir had commented on an issue sensitive to India.

In September, Dr Mahathir said at the UN General Assembly that India had "invaded and occupied" Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority region also claimed by Pakistan.

This led to some Indian traders calling for an unprecedented boycott of Malaysian palm oil.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government removed the longstanding autonomy of India's portion of the Kashmir valley on Aug 5, calling it an internal matter and criticising countries that have spoken out against the move.

Dr Mahathir, however, on Friday declined to comment when asked if the KL Summit 2019 would take a stand over Uighur Muslims.

His response: "This meeting isn't about politics - not even about religion. It's about developing Muslim countries."

The US House of Representatives earlier this month passed a Bill requiring the Trump administration to toughen its response to Xinjiang, where more than one million Muslims, mostly ethnic Uighurs, are being held in "re-education" camps.

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