Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday, said that his country will not take retaliatory action against India after the PM Modi government decided to boycott palm oil purchase from the Southeast Asian country. Malaysia is one of the biggest producer and exporter of palm oil and India its largest importing partner, but New Delhi this month effectively halted imports in response to comments made by Mahathir on India's domestic policies.
The 94-year-old Malaysian Prime Minister while talking to reporters in Langkawi said, "We are too small to take retaliatory action, we have to find ways and means to tackle the problem and overcome that." Mahathir had earlier criticised the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and controversial amended citizenship act (CAA). Mahathir was only one of the two Head of States, excluding Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, to speak on Kashmir in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last September.
India, that has been Malaysia's largest palm oil partner since 2014, but following Prime Minister Mahathir's comment, the BJP-led government has decided to swiftly move towards Indonesia for its edible oil requirements. Malaysia's palm futures fell nearly 10% last week, their biggest weekly decline in more than 11 years. According to media reports, India alone imported 23.9% of Malaysian palm oil in 2019, more than China and Pakistan combined.
Reportedly, New Delhi is is unhappy over Malaysia's refusal to revoke permanent resident status to Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. India had accused Zakir Naik of money laundering and hate speech before he fled the country three years ago to go to Malaysia. Mahathir has said that even if the Indian government agrees to conduct a free trial, Zakir Naik faces the real threat of vigilante action. Mahathir further added that Malaysia will only relocate the preacher if it finds a third country where he would be safe.