Malaysian envoy in India summoned over citizenship law remarks by Dr Mahathir: Report

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an interview in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on Dec 10, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - India's Ministry of External Affairs summoned Malaysia's acting head of mission in the country to convey its displeasure over the remarks by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on New Delhi's recently approved Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), reported an Indian news website.

The Wire said the envoy was summoned to the ministry on Saturday (Dec 21), one day after the Indian ministry issued a statement saying that Tun Dr Mahathir's statement was factually incorrect and told him not to comment on India's internal affairs.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs had said Dr Mahathir has "yet again remarked on a matter that is entirely internal to India".

Dr Mahathir had recently also ruffled feathers in India for his comments on the situation in Kashmir.

The Wire quoted sources as saying the Malaysian High Commission official was told that "such remarks are neither in keeping with accepted diplomatic practice of non-interference in each other's internal affairs, nor with the state of our bilateral relations".

"It was also conveyed that such remarks are both ill-informed and insensitive. Malaysia was asked to take a long term and strategic view of the bilateral relations," added sources quoted by the Wire.

Dr Mahathir had said that India's new law was regrettable, as it was discriminatory to Muslims.

The Prime Minister said he was sorry to see India, a secular state, acting to deprive some Muslims of citizenship.

"Already people are dying because of this law, so why is there a necessity to do this thing when all this while, for 70 years almost, they have lived together as citizens without any problems? 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 during the Kuala Lumpur Summit last Friday.

India's Parliament recently passed a law offering citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

It allows fast-track citizenship for religious minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the three neighbouring countries.

However, it does not mention those of Islamic faith.

There have been demonstrations all over India, with 23 deaths reported.

The Wire said protesters in India are criticising the CAA not just because of the standalone act, but also that it will be used with the National Register of Citizens to target vulnerable and poor Muslims.

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