New Delhi: Kuala Lumpur is in deep waters after India imposed new restrictions on the import of palm oil due to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s remark on the contentious Citizenship law. However, the PM on Tuesday stood his ground and said that he would continue to speak out against the wrongdoings, even if it comes at the country’s financial cost.
India, the world’s largest edible oil procurer, effectively stopped all purchases from Malaysia after the Centre warned to shun import of products over a diplomatic spat.
The Prime Minister had earlier made a remark criticising the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and suggesting that it is a religious test of citizenship.
Malaysia is concerned about the course of actions because it sells palm oil to India in largescale, the Prime Minister noted. However, he said that such curbs will not stop the “need to be frank” if something is not right. “If we allow things to go wrong and think only about the money involved, then I think a lot of wrong things will be done, by us and by other people,” he said as quoted by a leading news agency.
Malaysia had already soured its ties with India and Saudi Arabia after PM Mahathir’s anti-India rant on the Kashmir issue at the UN last year.
Notably, India had on Monday specifically instructed traders to refrain from Malaysian palm oil. As a result, Indian traders are now buying crude palm oil from Indonesia at a premium of $10 per tonne, over and above the Malaysian cost. This has also led to a rise in the edible oil prices, that have gone up by 15 per cent in the last one month.
Taking stock for the potential loss, Malaysian exporters are reportedly trying to sell more to other buyers including Pakistan, the Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria as well as Jordan.