Kadir calls for review on Indian nationals, products over reports of palm oil ban

Veteran journalist A Kadir Jasin says Malaysia should grow more of the food items currently imported from India and other countries.

PETALING JAYA: Veteran journalist A Kadir Jasin today called on the government to reconsider its stance towards Indian expatriates and workers and products from the country following reports that the republic was imposing restrictions on Malaysian palm oil.

The Indian High Commission in Malaysia estimated that there are 150,000 Indian expatriates and workers in Malaysia.

“For hundreds of years, we have been accommodating immigrants from India. Some stayed temporarily but many stayed on and become citizens.

“Since India is bent on penalising the importation of our palm oil products as a form of retaliation, we should perhaps take a look at the position of Indian expatriates and workers in our country, and the products we import from India.

“I think we should grow locally more of the food items we now import from India and elsewhere,” Kadir said in a Facebook post.

Reuters had quoted sources as saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government was seeking to target Malaysia after Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent criticism of India.

Last year, Mahathir caused an uproar after he said India invaded and occupied Kashmir following a military crackdown on the Muslim majority region.

In December, he hit out at the BJP government over a new citizenship law seen as discriminating Muslim migrants. Mahathir had also said events in India were causing a lot of unhappiness among its people.

Today, the prime minister again defended himself for voicing out against New Delhi’s policies on Kashmir and its controversial citizenship law while at the same time expressing concerns over reports of India’s plans to restrict imports of Malaysian palm oil.

“We’re concerned of course because we sell a lot of palm oil to India. But on the other hand, we need to be frank and say when something goes wrong,” he told reporters today.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok had quashed reports that India was imposing restrictions on imports of refined palm oil from Malaysia, saying it was mere “hearsay”.

This comes after reports that India’s commerce and industry ministry issued a notification declaring that the import of refined palm oil was amended from “Free” to “Restricted”.

Kok confirmed the existence of such a memo but said the notification did not explicitly mention Malaysian refined palm oil.

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs ministry had recently said exports of Indian onions to Malaysia has stopped for the past three months, due to claims of local supply shortage in India.