New Delhi: Malaysia’s Senate President and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) chief, Vigneswaran Sanasee, has strongly criticised the Mahathir Mohamad government’s interference in India’s internal affairs and urged him to grant greater democracy and equal rights to his own non-Muslim citizens first.
President Mahathir’s criticism of India’s new citizenship law, Sanasee said, “is not in sync with established diplomatic practice of non-interference in any country’s internal affairs”. He reminded the government that Malaysia itself had not allowed Indian intervention in granting permanent residency to Indian fugitive and Islamist preacher Zakir Naik.
In a statement issued to media, he said: “I am appalled at the uncalled for statements made by our leaders against India’s internal policies and laws. We should not make any statements when we are ill-informed of the exact terms of a policy. Neither should we make statements as emotional outburst in the name of religious solidarity.”
Accusing President Mahathir of insulting other races and religions, and pushing his own religious agenda, he said, “it is indeed totally unwelcome.”
Sanasee said: “We should refrain from criticising other nations that eventually bring criticism upon ourselves. Our nation should indeed be practicing equitable distribution of rights before we run down the policies of a foreign nation.” He reminded Mahathir that other countries might view “democracy in Malaysia as being very limited in its true sense compared with the practice in India”.
Slamming the government on its own discriminatory citizenship laws, the MIC chief said: “Though special privileges accorded to Bumiputeras have been accepted by non-Malays, but it remains a double standard in the context of equality as enshrined in our Federal Constitution.”
Recalling the history of Malaysia, he said that the country was a homeland to multi-ethnic people of the Malay archipelago and the Malay world stretching from the Indian to the Pacific Oceans. “History dictates the origin of Malay archipelago was a Hindu world. Over history, it evolved into an Islamic stretch of nations,” he said.
Backing India strongly, the MIC chief said: “India has never imposed any educational policies on its non-Hindu citizens to study Sanskrit! But Malaysia had imposed the learning of Jawi in government schools and we, the non-Muslims, adhered to the learning of Jawi.”
He said now the government was imposing Khat in vernacular schools and had curbed non-Muslims from expressing their dissent against Khat.