Malaysia won’t report Indian palm oil boycott to WTO ‘at the moment’, says PM

Yiswaree Palansamy
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur October 22, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said a call for India to boycott Malaysia’s palm oil products is not from its government.

As such, the prime minister said Putrajaya will not report India to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for now.

“At the moment, no,” he replied reporters during a press conference in Parliament when asked if the government would lodge a complaint with WTO over the Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors’ Association of India’s boycott push in a backlash against Dr Mahathir’s past remark at the United Nations (UN) over Kashmir.

Dr Mahathir today said he would not retract his remarks made towards India on its actions against Jammu and Kashmir.

“We speak our minds and we don’t retract and change. We said that the people of Kashmir have benefited from the resolution of the UN and all we are saying is that we should all abide. Not just India, not just Pakistan, but even America and other countries should abide by the resolution of the UN. Otherwise, what is the good of having the UN?” he said.

The prime minister said Malaysia will look into the possible repercussions of an Indian boycott.

“We will study the effects of their boycott, but what is important is that their government has not said anything. So we will see what the [Indian] government policy is going to be like,” he said.

He also said that while Malaysia is friendly to everyone as it needs markets for its products, it will not hesitate to speak up if the situation calls for it.

“So we are nice to people, but also we have to speak up for people. So sometimes, what we say is liked by some and disliked by others,” he said when asked if he fears there may be strained ties with India.

He said that Putrajaya will look into the matter and will communicate with Delhi.

He was confident his remarks will not lead to a trade war with India.

National news wire Bernama reported yesterday that an Indian trade body representing the republic’s oilseed crushers urged its members not to buy Malaysian palm oil, taking a cue from Delhi’s protest against Dr Mahathir's remarks about the Kashmir conflict during the United Nations General Assembly in September.

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