M’sia ready to send delegation to India over boycott row

Pic By TMR File

PUTRAJAYA is ready to send government officials to New Delhi after this weekend’s Deepavali celebration to discuss growing concerns over the boycott call on Malaysian palm oil, if the need arises.

Amid calls to restrict trades with Malaysia in India, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok (picture) maintained the government’s diplomatic stance and said the two countries will work on constructive ways to resolve their differences.

“We are always prepared to engage with them (India). That is why I issued the statement two days ago to their Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) and tell them that it’s good to talk. It is good not to do any harm to our bilateral trade and let the two governments sort out any differences,” Kok told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

While the ministry will consider sending a delegation to the Indian capital to resolve the matter, it will depend on India’s reception.

“Deepavali is coming so both sides will be very busy. After the festival, we will see (what the next course of action is). We will also engage with the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. So, let us not talk about differences in opinion and (instead) celebrate this Deepavali together,” said the minister, who was dressed in a white kurta.

Kok had earlier distributed palm oil-based Indian savouries to media practitioners and MPs in the spirit of Deepavali, which will be celebrated this Sunday in Malaysia. “I want to be a peacemaker,” she said.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday said he will not retract his statement on the Jammu-Kashmir conflict despite growing calls to boycott Malaysian palm oil among Indian traders.

His comments came a day after SEA advised its members not to buy palm oil from Malaysia. New Delhi has so far refused to comment on the scuffle, while Dr Mahathir has maintained that the protest is not by the Indian government.

“We speak our minds, and we don’t retract or change. What we are saying is, we should all abide by the resolutions of the United Nations (UN). Otherwise, what is the use of the UN?” he said.

Dr Mahathir also downplayed any possibility of filing a report to the World Trade Organisation on the ongoing protest, saying the two countries will find effective ways to communicate to avoid a trade war. Malaysia is the second-largest producer of palm oil, while India is the commodity’s biggest buyer.