PETALING JAYA: A DAP senator who had urged Putrajaya to establish diplomatic ties with Israel has apologised and retracted his statement but explained that he had also called for the government to set up an embassy in Palestine.
Nga Hock Cheh said he had suggested for Putrajaya to do so to “help broker a lasting peace in the Middle East”.
“However, given the sensitivity of these subjects and to avoid offence and misunderstanding, I had sincerely and voluntarily offered my apology during my clarification in the Dewan Negara on April 25 and wish to withdraw the statement henceforth,” he said in a statement.
Nga, a DAP leader from Perak, had expressed support for a proposal by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim for Malaysia to open an embassy in Palestine.
But he had said Malaysia should take it a step further by opening an embassy in Israel and reaping economic benefits from the new ties.
“Israel is very small country but it has very advanced technology in various fields, especially in agriculture.
“Thailand has also benefited tremendously from the expertise and existence of Israel.
“So, we can also import the expertise for our agriculture to help uplift the standard of living of the rural folk in this country,” he told the Dewan Negara on April 24.
This led to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Malaysia (BDS Malaysia) hitting out at Nga, saying his explanation reeked of Zionist propaganda.
The Malaysian chapter of the global boycott campaign against Israel said Nga not only showed his “naivety” of the conflict in Palestine but also failed his own Christian faith by ignoring that Christians were also victims of Zionist aggression.
Misunderstanding over religious status in MyKad
Meanwhile, Nga denied proposing for the religious status to be dropped from the MyKad and said he had been misquoted, including by the media.
He said he had called for those born in the country to be given a national identity rather than a racial identity.
“My emphasis is identity by nationality (Malaysian) and not identity by race.
“I did not make any statement about religion. I also did not make any suggestion that religion be excluded in the national registration identity card, as somehow alleged by others.”
Nga said it was unfortunate that his suggestion, which he said was aimed at promoting national unity, had been misquoted and twisted by certain quarters for political mileage.