PETALING JAYA: PPBM supreme council member Tariq Ismail has dismissed concerns over the controversial Twitter message by the party’s deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir on the issue of the Rohingya people facing persecution in Myanmar.
Attempting to downplay the storm brewing over the tweet, Tariq said it had been misconstrued.
Mukhriz had tweeted out “Saya desak Kerajaan Malaysia hantar saja TLDM ke Teluk Bengal. Itu saja bahasa yang Myanmar faham. Allah selamatkan #Rohingya”.
This translates to: “I urge the Malaysian government to send the navy to the Bay of Bengal, as that is the only way to make Myanmar understand. May Allah save #Rohingya”.
“Mukhriz’s recent tweet regarding the proposed deployment of the Royal Malaysian Navy to the Bay of Bengal seems to have been misconstrued and drawn the ire of some,” Tariq said in a statement today, before calling for a meaningful discourse on the Rohingya problem.
Defending Mukhriz’s tweet, Tariq said his party leader was not suggesting for the Malaysian naval forces to go to waters off Myanmar’s coast to intimidate our Asean neighbours.
“Contrary to popular belief, the primary role of our military forces, as in most countries, is to defend our country and extend humanitarian assistance where necessary.
“In this context, calling for the navy to be deployed to the international waters in the Bay of Bengal will help to protect the borders from an influx of illegal immigrants from the Rohingyan conflict, as well as secure the safety of those fleeing the conflict by sea,” he said.
Tariq then went on to suggest that the navy will also help ensure the Rohingya are documented, as in formally recognised as refugees and registered with the UNHCR appropriately.
“Engaging the navy will ensure the Rohingya are not exploited and illegally trafficked into Malaysia thus creating more social problems back home.
“It is also hoped that such a deployment will be the beginnings of a UN peacekeeping mission to secure the lives of the victims of the conflict and ensure they are placed within the UNHCR care of host nations rather than be left at the mercy of illegal human traffickers and a military junta bent on extermination,” Tariq said.
He added that it was also important for the government’s existing efforts in providing basic services such as right to work, health and education to the Rohingya be speeded up.
“The recommendations of the UNHCR during the International Conference on Rohingya 2017 held in Putrajaya in March should be given further cognisance in helping us cope with the social challenges of the Rohingya problem especially given what is happening now.”