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Sri Lankan president won’t be visiting M’sia

 | November 25, 2012

The Sri Lanka High Commission confirmed that President Mahinda Rajapaksa will not attend the World Islamic Economic Forum due to unavoidable circumstances, and not because of protests.

UPDATED

PETALING JAYA: With various Indian groups objecting to the visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Malaysia early next month for an international forum, it has now been confirmed that Rajapaksa will not be coming after all.

This has been confirmed by the Sri Lankan High Commission’s media affairs counsellor, Rizvi Hassen.

“President Rajapaksa will not be coming due to unavoidable circumstances,” Rizvi said in an e-mail correspondence to FMT.

Rajapaksa was invited to attend the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in Johor Baru from Dec 4 to 6.

The invitation, however, had sparked off protests from leaders of the Indian community here.

The Sri Lankan leader’s absence, however, is not due to the various protests by political and non-political entities, said Rizvi.

“It is not due to the protests. The decision [to not attend the WEIF] was decided before the protests took place,” he said.

On Friday, MIC Youth sent a protest memorandum to the Foreign Ministry objecting to the planned visit by Rajapaksa.

Separately a committee was also set up by Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy to object to Rajapaksa’s presence here.

Yesterday, Sri Lanka War Victim Concerned Team (Api) protested in front of the Sri Lankan High Commission over the proposed visit. MIC Youth members also lodged a police report against Rajapaksa for alleged war crimes.

The Indians in Malaysians who are largely made up of ethnic Tamil have been expressing their displeasure due to Rajapaksa’s role in quashing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009 after a 26-year civil war.

It was reported that some 100,000 civilians including 40,000 Tamils were killed while more than 300,000 people were displaced during the long-standing conflict.

Najib’s role?

In an immediate reaction, MIC Youth chief T Mohan thanked Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for the latest development.

“I must thank the prime minister for being the middleman between the Indian community and the WIEF organisers,” he said

He added that the opposition to Mahinda’s visit was raised by MIC president (and Minister in Prime Minister’s Department) G Palanivel and deputy president (and Human Resources Minister) Dr S Subramaniam during the cabinet meeting on Friday.

“I was told that even Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein supported the motion against the arrival of Mahinda,” he said.

However Najib’s purported role in ensuring Mahinda did not come to Malaysia was not shared by two other groups who also opposed the Sri Lankan leader’s visit to Malaysia.

Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy had no sweet words for Najib.

“Najib should be criticised for inviting Rajapaksa in the first place. He is afraid of losing the Indian vote bank. He was forced to cancel (Mahinda) Rajapaksa’s trip,” said Ramasamy who is also DAP’s national deputy secretary general.

Api representative S Barathidasan also echoed similar sentiments and claimed that the whole episode as being Najib’s drama.

“It is Najib’s game. He invited Mahinda and is now trying to create a positive image to woo the Indian vote bank. It is a drama,” he said.

He also added that a protest at the Parliament would proceed as planned. “We want Malaysia to cut its diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka. Malaysia must not recognise that country,” said Barathidasan.

Also read:

NGOs protest against Sri Lanka president’s arrival


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