Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad’s hostile comments on Kashmir breached diplomatic boundaries by voicing his thoughts so strongly and publicly, Elina Noor, a senior Malaysian expert on international affairs, has said, reports the Hindu
India’s decision to end palm oil imports in retaliation to Mohammad’s comments was expected, Ms. Noor commented and affirmed that Malaysia would look for alternative markets such as Pakistan. India’s ban would not hurt instantly but would prove to be challenging for Malaysia “if it continued”, she noted.
“Prime Minister Mahathir’s concerns are definitely shared by a number of Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. However, there are also Malaysians who feel that Mahathir breached diplomatic boundaries by voicing his thoughts so strongly and publicly,” said Noor.
Noor further stated – “India’s reaction to PM Mahathir Mohammad’s comments is understandable and anticipated. However, it does not end the apprehensions held by many within and beyond India on the situation in Kashmir even if those concerns have not been expressed as explicitly as Mahathir’s were.”
Earlier, India imposed restrictions on imports of refined palm oil and palmolein from Malaysia as retaliation against the country over its criticism of India’s actions in Kashmir and citizenship law.
Mahathir said in October that India “invaded and occupied” Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority region also claimed by Pakistan. Last month he said India was stoking unrest with its new citizenship law, which critics say undermines the country’s secular foundations.
“Malaysia is in a lose-lose situation with this ruling,” said Sathia Varqa owner and co-founder of Singapore-based Palm Oil Analytics had stated, adding “India will ramp up buying of CPO from Indonesia.”
Indonesia traditionally corned around two-third of India’s palm oil imports, but a lower duty on refined palm oil helped Malaysia to overtake Indonesia as India’s biggest supplier in 2019.
Palm oil is crucial for the Malaysian economy as it accounts for 2.8% of gross domestic product and 4.5% of total exports. State-owned and private Malaysian refineries will likely have to scramble to find new buyers for their refined product.
Palm oil accounts for nearly two-thirds of India’s total edible oil imports. The country buys more than 9 million tonnes of palm oil annually, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, followed by Malaysia.