Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad has decided to step down and pledged to hand over power to his successor Anwar Ibrahim. PM Mohamad has been vocal on Islamic alliance and even went on to antagonize key allies like India with whom Malaysia shares robust economic and historical ties.
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Mahathir, 94, told Reuters in an interview that he would not hand over before a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries that Malaysia is to host in November but could be ready after that.
“I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change immediately before the APEC summit would be disruptive,” Mahathir said.
As far I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him. If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise.”
Asked if a handover could come in December 2020, Mahathir said: “We’ll look at that when the time comes.” The tumultuous association between the two men – allies turned fierce rivals who later reunited to win power – has shaped politics in the Southeast Asian country for decades.
PM Mahathir was surprisingly elected in 2018 as the head of a coalition government whose largest party is led by Anwar, 72, who has been jailed twice on separate counts of sodomy and for corruption – charges he says were political.
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Last week, Anwar rejected fresh accusations by a former aide that he had tried to force him to have sex – describing the accusations as “politics at its worst”. It is Mahathir’s second stint as Malaysia’s PM, a post he previously held for 22 years from 1981 to 2003. Anwar was his deputy from 1993 to 1998, when the two fell out. Anwar was jailed the following year.
Although Mahathir pledged to hand over to Anwar during the 2018 election campaign, doubts grew over his plans when he later said he needed more time to drive the heavily-indebted nation out of its troubles first.
Mahathir Antagonizes India
Earlier, Indian netizens urged for complete boycott of Malaysia after PM Mahathir Mohamad who accused India of invading Kashmir during his UNGA speech. The Malaysian PM indirectly blamed India of invading and occupying Jammu and Kashmir.
What followed post the comments of Malaysian Prime Minister was a social media outrage by Indians asking the authorities to suspend bilateral trade and tourism with Malaysia. The comments of the Malaysian PM are reminiscent of the anti-India stand portrayed China and Turkey at the UNGA.
Mahathir Mohamad also stated that India invaded Jammu and Kashmir despite UN resolutions on Kashmir. Moreover, he went on to say that such ignorance of the UN will lead to other types of disregard for the UN and the rule of law.
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Indian traders in response decided to boycott the import of Malaysian Palm Oil over the remarks made by Mohamad on the issue of Kashmir. The advisory to boycott from the Solvent Extractors’ Trade Association of India comes in light of present reports that the Indian government is contemplating imposing formal trade sanctions on Malaysia for its aggressive anti-India stance on Kashmir.
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The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India has 875 members, the body processes approximately 30 million tons of oilseed annually. India is currently the world’s largest buyer of vegetable oils, importing about 9.5 million tons of palm oil annually, out of which 3 million tons is imported by traders from Malaysia. The advisory issued by Atul Chaturvedi, president of the organisation says.