PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has described Aung San Suu Kyi as a “changed person” for her role in allowing “what appears like genocide” in the Rohingya issue in Myanmar.
In an interview with Turkish international news channel TRT World on Saturday, Mahathir said Malaysia had long been vocal on the matter and stressed that the country had “openly condemned” Suu Kyi for her inaction on the reported killings of the Rohingya by the military.
“We have not minced words about this. Although our policy in Asean is non-interference in the internal affairs of the country, what is happening is grossly unjust. We have voiced our opinion,” he said in the interview taped after he had attended the UN General Assembly in New York.
Asked by TRT host Ghida Fakhry if Malaysia would do more than just voice its concern and directly intervene as a mediator, like when Malaysia sought Suu Kyi’s release from prison previously, Mahathir said this had already been done.
“I have written to her myself. She has not replied.
“I am very disappointed because during the time that she was detained, we had struggled to try and get her released.
“Of course, she was eventually released, but over this (Rohingya) issue she seems a changed person. She did not want to see any action taken against the military,” Mahathir said.
He said Malaysia had “complained to the world” about how the Rohingya were being treated in their home country, which does not recognise them as legal citizens.
He said Malaysia had also accepted a number of Rohingya.
Asked by Ghida whether he had any faith left in Suu Kyi, Mahathir said: “We made it quite clear we don’t really support her anymore.”
In 2016, Myanmar’s armed forces and federal police started a major crackdown on Rohingya people in Rakhine in the country’s northwestern region, with homes being torched.
One million Rohingya were forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh and on boats to other countries.
Earlier in the interview, Mahathir, who returned home this evening, reaffirmed his promise he would not stay in power after two years.
The nonagenarian also rubbished claims he was a dictator during his previous premiership of 22 years.
Mahathir also said it would take Malaysia “40 to 50 years” before it could be free of debt.