Minister denies Malaysia being silent in China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu denied that Malaysia is being in voicing out its concerns about China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim community. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu denied that Malaysia is being in voicing out its concerns about China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim community. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu denied that Malaysia is being in voicing out its concerns about China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim community.

He was asked to comment on Malaysia’s stand on the matter, and whether it contrasted with the country’s consistent criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Muslims.

In an interview recently, the first time minister said that Malaysia has been using its diplomatic channels to convey its dissatisfaction on the treatment towards the minority Muslim community in China.

“We continue to use diplomatic channels under the Foreign Ministry. The minister for foreign affairs always talks about the issues that are happening in China, in the meetings that take place.

“Maybe it’s not publicised about, but issues like that continue to be discussed in a diplomatic way between two countries,” he said.

Unlike its vocal criticism of Israel, Mohamad was asked as to why Putrajaya is silent on the mistreatment of the Chinese government towards the Uyghur Muslims, despite numerous reports detailing the harrowing experience these detainees who are taken against their will, face in the detention camps.

“It is being discussed at the Foreign Ministry level.

‘We discuss more towards defence diplomacy, especially with regards to China and our maritime issues at the South China Sea, or the disputed area. We discuss more on such issues, so that the issues with the disputed area does not lead to tensions.

“This is what we are discussing via the defence diplomacy, either by the Defence Ministry or the Foreign Ministry, and also the Prime Minister’s Department. This, we are constantly doing,” Mohamad added.

Last week, the New York Times (NYT) reported that Chinese start-ups have built algorithms which the government uses to track members of the predominantly Muslim minority group.

NYT had in its report citing documents and interviews, reported that the Chinese government is also employing a secret system of advanced facial recognition technology, to exclusively track and control the Uyghurs.

The report said that the algorithm looks for Uyghurs based on their appearance, and stores records of their movements for search and review.

In October last year, Malaysia released from detention, 11 Uyghur Muslims who fled into the country, after escaping from a Thailand prison in 2017.

Disregarding China’s handover request, the group was deported to Turkey, Reuters quoted their lawyer Fahmi Moin saying.

Fahmi reportedly said that the prosecutors dropped that charges against the Uyghurs on humanitarian grounds.

The move had at that time, seen as further damaging the already soured bilateral relationship between Malaysia and China after Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the government, and proceeded to cancel and suspend several China-backed projects.

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