India-Malaysia relationship turned into a turmoil after New Delhi imposed restriction of palm oil import from Kuala Lumpur last week. The recent decision was a Modi Government’s response to Malaysian Prime Minister (PM), Mahathir bin Mohamad’s criticism against the Indian parliament passing the controversial act called Citizenship Amendment Act, 2020 (CAA). Despite the Malaysian trade ministry insisted, Indian officials claimed on Sunday that the meeting with Malaysian representatives in Davos, Switzerland would not be possible.
Anti-Muslim Act and Trade Restriction
Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation, is the second-biggest producer of palm oil and India has been a top buyer of Malaysia’s commodity for five years. The Malaysian PM had been criticizing the recent controversial act, CAA passed by the Indian parliament in December 2019 alleging that India’s new citizenship law was an anti-Muslim.
Following the PM statement on CAA, the Modi government started imposing trade restrictions on the refined palm oil imported from Malaysia as retaliation for Mahathir’s criticism of New Delhi. Mahathir earlier spoke at the UN General Assembly in September 2019 about the Modi Government’s revocation of Kashmir’s special status by saying that India had ‘invaded and occupied’ Kashmir which was claimed to be a Muslim-dominated region. He further spoke against the last month’s CAA and attacked India’s new citizenship law based on religion as, he said, India was “depriving some Muslims of their citizenship.”
A Malaysian government spokesman said on Friday, January 17, 2020, that the trade minister of India and Malaysia could hold a talk on the issue during the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting to be held from 21 January to 24 January 2020 in Davos, Switzerland. However, Indian trade ministry official said on Sunday that there would be no meeting between India’s trade minister, Piyush Goyal and his Malaysian counterpart, Darell Leiking in Davos as Goyal had a tight schedule.
Rapid Declining of Malaysian’s Palm Trade
Mahathir, 94 years old Malaysian PM who is one of the World’s oldest leaders, has been vocal of the Muslim world. He severely criticized as he believed that India as the Hindu-dominated country has been constructing a Hindu-nation by denying the rights of Muslim citizens in India. The Malaysian PM’s statement had cost his country a lot; Malaysia witnessed a massive decline of the palm oil trade due to the trade restriction imposed by India. On Friday, Kuala Lumpur had its biggest weekly decline of palm business in more than 11 years and the country’s officials insisted to conduct a talk on the issue.
Denying the possibility of a meeting between the two representatives of the countries, as per Reuters reported, an Indian official said, “As part of a larger meeting of trade ministers they may be both together, but there’s no meeting. The schedule is already finalized, and it’s full.”
The official further added, “I can tell you fair and square there’s no meeting between the Malaysian minister and the Indian trade minister at Davos.” Referring to Mahathir’s comments, the official recalled, “Why is he harming his own country by his erratic actions? The comments he’s making are very unprecedented.” However, Mahathir expressed his view that he would continue speaking out against “wrong things” even if it costs the country financially.
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