KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — Facebook user Jonathan Ong Ujang is heating up the social network with his apology post on behalf of Malaysia and an “I love Israel” remark after the Middle Eastern nation’s sports body accused Putrajaya of being difficult, forcing it to withdraw its two athletes from an international windsurfing tournament in Langkawi.
Ong, whose Facebook profile shows him to be a Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris student from Kuching, Sarawak, sparked debate with his sympathy for the Israeli athletes caught in a diplomatic policy row.
“On behalf of Malaysia, I would like to sincerely apologise for causing Israel much humiliation and burden. You are an national entity and have the right to be proud of your nation and national symbols. It is too bad that the government policy dictates that they do not recognise the State of Israel. Once again, deepest apologies to Israel. I love Israel,” he wrote yesterday on the Facebook page of Israeli news portal, The Jerusalem Post.
Some Facebook users chided him over the remark, asserting that he did not represent Malaysia.
In response, Ong conceded he may not speak for all Malaysians, but counted himself part of a segment that hoped for an end to the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict.
“I may not, but I represent a remnant of Malaysians who pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the ultimate salvation of Israel,” he wrote.
For that and his apology, he received plaudits from some other Facebook users, including one Marsha Coleman who claimed to be Jewish and expressed her appreciation for his sympathetic sentiment.
“Jonathan Ong Ujang I would like to thank you for speaking out. I might not represent all Jews, but this Jewish woman sincerely appreciates your post. Wishing you and your family a very joyous holiday and the best of everything in 2016,” she wrote.
The Jerusalem Post article was published yesterday under the headline “Israeli youth windsurfers barred entry to Malaysia for world championships” and drew over 6,650 Facebook shares and more than 1,000 “likes” at the time of writing.
Ong’s comment was the most popular, with over 280 “likes” and 50 replies at the time of writing. The comment however was later deleted a few hours after Malay Mail Online ran our report.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Israel Sailing Association chairman Gili Amir blamed Malaysia for delaying the visa application and putting “unacceptable” restrictions on its two athletes Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan who were set to defend this titles at the Langkawi youth windsurfing tournament Sunday.
Amir claimed Omer and Drihan would not be allowed to compete under the Israel flag, nor would they be allowed to wear any symbol to identify them as Israeli, or even have their national anthem played if they should win the gold medal, as is customary.
He reportedly added that Israel is considering suing Malaysia and and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) for not allowing its athletes to participate.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told Malay Mail Online today that Malaysia accepts Israel’s withdrawal, and that the country was guided by its existing diplomatic policy when contacted for comment on the case.
Malaysia and Israel do not have diplomatic ties.