KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today defended his comments about the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, which were critical of India during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month.
Speaking to the press today, the Langkawi MP said that his remarks were simply an extension of his private exchange with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when the two met in Vladivostok, Russia.
He added that Malaysia is not taking sides in the conflict.
“We must know how to manage this problem. If we do not criticise, and (by the way), our criticism does not side with anyone.
“Just demanding that both parties negotiate and not use violence. That has always been our policy. Do not use violence and instead, negotiate, or go for arbitration or go to the court of law.
“This is what I raised to Modi, when I met him at Vladivostok, and my speech is an extension of our stand, that we do not want to see violence erupt. Instead, any dispute, conflict among nations must be settled via negotiation, arbitration or court of law,” he added.
Dr Mahathir acknowledged that his remarks could be viewed negatively by the country criticised.
When asked if he expected any repercussions to Malaysia’s trade with India, Dr Mahathir replied in the negative.
“I have already spoken to Modi. If there are any unsatisfactory feelings within Modi, he can contact me, but to date, no calls,” he said when asked if India has also expressed any displeasure with him.
He was asked to comment on the possible repercussions from the #BoycottMalaysia movement started by Twitter users in India.
The hashtag began trending after Dr Mahathir spoke about the need to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir conflict in his speech during the 74th UNGA.
Users of the hashtag have been urging Indian citizens not to travel to Malaysia and complained about the government’s interference in India’s internal affairs.
Indian Army personnel numbering in the tens of thousands have been deployed in the region, disputed by India and Pakistan, with curfews imposed, political leaders arrested and disabling telecommunications and Internet services.
Jammu and Kashmir have seen increased unrest in the wake of a presidential decree on August 5, which removed the Muslim-majority state’s constitutionally-guaranteed special status and rights.