Mahathir asks ASEAN Pressure Myanmar to solve migrant crisis
19 May 2015, Nirapad News: Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said Asean must apply more pressure on the Myanmar government over the refugee crisis involving its native Rohingya community that has affected other countries in the region.
He said this was crucial in resolving the longstanding issue as the continuous persecution of the Muslim minority in the country group was inhumane.
Dr Mahathir said Myanmar was also unreasonable in denying the Rohingya citizenship in the country when they have resided there for over 800 years.
“They should not be killing them and burning their houses, and doing all sorts of other cruel things as people would not run from the country if they didn’t.” “These are their own people and the cannot continue doing this. “Buddhists are known to be very considerate, and detest the killing of people, but the actions by people in Myanmmar (towards the Rohingya were very cruel),” he said.
Dr Mahathir was speaking at a press conference after launching a book entitled “Dr Mahathir’s selected letters to world leaders Volume 2”, at the Perdana Foundation, in Presint 8, in Putrajaya on Monday.
The book featured 73 letters which recorded correspondences between Dr Mahathir and other world leaders during his 22-year tenure as prime minister.
In an immediate response to the impasse of the thousands of boat people currently out at sea, Dr Mahathir said Asean leaders must call for an immediate meeting to decide on the matter. “They need to tell Myanmmar that they cannot do this to your people and create a problem for us.”
He said Malaysia had in the past allowed boat people to seek refuge in the country similar to how Vietnamese refugees were placed in Pulau Bidong, Terengganu following the Vietnamese war in the 1970s.
“But they were there in order to go to other places and we helped them a lot, but this (Rohingya crisis) is too big a problem for us alone to handle,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the Buddhists in Myanmar should not disregard the Rohingya simply because they practiced a different religion.
“In Israel, even the Jews allowed a small number of Arab Muslims to stay in the country. So why do the Buddhists want to expel the Rohingya?,” he asked.