Malaysian Ministers must get
rid of the “frog in coconut shell” mentality and learn the first basic rule
of global society – we must accept and withstand international scrutiny of
national policies in the same way Malaysian leaders castigate injustices of
other countries like the Palestinian and Iraq issues
Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
Malaysian Ministers must get
rid of the “frog in coconut shell” mentality and learn the first basic
rule of global society – we must accept and withstand international
scrutiny of national policies in the same way Malaysian leaders castigate
injustices of other countries like the Palestinian and Iraq issues.
Only yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi spoke
up for the Palestinians and criticized oppressive Israeli policies – and
rightly so. Similarly, with the frequent Malaysian government criticisms
of United States policy in Iraq.
However, Malaysian leaders cannot demand double-standards in international
society where they exercise the right to criticize unfair policies of
foreign governments like the hot-button Palestinian and Iraq issues and
yet claim the privilege of being spared from international scrutiny by
foreign governments and leaders on Malaysian events and developments.
This is why the outburst of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s
Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz on Wednesday telling off the Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister M. Karunanidhi to “butt out” and not to interfere in Malaysian
internal affairs for the Tamil Nadu leader’s comments on Sunday’s Hindraf
demonstration is so ridiculous and out-of-place, as if the Malaysian
government is insisting on the unilateral special rights of not being
subject to any international scrutiny for its national policies while
enjoying the liberty to speak out against international injustices like
those affecting the Palestinians and Iraqis.
Nazri’s outburst at Karunanidhi’s call to the Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh to take immediate and appropriate action to end the
“sufferings and bad treatment” of Tamils in Malaysia was given extensive
coverage in the Indian media – just like the subsequent Karunanidhi’s
reaction to Nazri’s outburst.
For instance, the Calcutta Telegraph in its report headlined
“Malaysian Courtesy: Lay off - Karunanidhi’s plea on Tamil rights sparks
war of words” said:
Karunanidhi today said it
was his “duty” to “defend” Tamils and he was prepared to accept any
“punishment” for doing so.
Told about the comments of Aziz, the chief minister said: “If there is any
punishment for doing the duty, I am prepared to accept it.”
Karunanidhi pointed out that he did not criticize the Malaysian
government. “I don’t want to reply to his (Aziz’s) remarks. I don’t want
to get into a tit for tat. It is my duty to defend Tamils.”
The Calcutta Telegraph also
reported on the Indian Parliament scene on the Sunday Hindraf
demonstration in Kuala Lumpur –
Today, MPs from Tamil
Nadu disrupted both Houses of Parliament, demanding that New Delhi
pressure Kuala Lumpur to protect ethnic Indians there.
Some MPs raised slogans against Malaysia and demanded the Indian foreign
minister make a statement on the issue, forcing proceedings in the Lok
Sabha to be suspended briefly.
“We have expressed our concern over the condition of Indian-origin Tamils
in Malaysia,” said CPI leader D. Raja, who hails from Tamil Nadu.
“They are subjected to repression and discrimination. They are fighting
for equality with other sections of Malaysian people.”
The Economic Times of India
today also reported the “uproar” in the Indian Parliament caused by
Nazri’s response to Karunanidhi.
It said Nazri’s remarks “created a ruckus in Parliament, with
parliamentarians demanding that the government, which has remained silent
on the matter, take up the issue with Kuala Lumpur.”
“Lok Sabha members from
Tamil Nadu, cutting across party lines, on Thursday came out in full force
to denounce the reported discrimination of ethnic Indians. Their noisy
protest, which also got support from some other sections of the House,
prompted the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings for half an hour.
“Led by Congress member SK Kharaventhan, the agitated MPs spoke about
purported ethnic discrimination against Indians, mostly people of Tamil
origin, in Malaysia, and demanded that New Delhi address this issue
immediately. As the members urged the central government to take steps to
‘protect’ the ethnic Indians in Malaysia, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee,
cautious of the diplomatic sensitivity involved in the matter, asked them
not to say anything that would affect relations with the friendly country.
“As their protest gained momentum, some members from the BJP benches were
heard referring to the alleged demolition of temples in Malaysia. On his
part, the Speaker ordered some reference to the reported police attack on
the Indians. ‘We are a very responsible democracy. We don’t discuss... any
other country in such a manner,’ he said. ..
“In the Rajya Sabha, too, Tamil Nadu MPs registered their protest,
prompting deputy chairman K Rahman Khan to come out with an assurance that
the government would definitely take note of it. The BJP asked the
government to raise the issue before the UN and the Commonwealth while the
CPI expressed concern over ‘discrimination and repression’ of people of
The Malaysian Government and
Cabinet must be mindful of these international repercussions which must be
fully taken into account in any decisions taken by the government and
police in a proper handling of the Hindraf demonstration to ensure that
they can withstand international scrutiny from all viewpoints whether
nation-building policies or international best practices on democracy and
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman