#BoycottMalaysia war raging on Twitter, but India and Malaysia are still friends, Mahathir says

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Indian premier Narendra Modi has not expressed any unhappiness over his UN comments.
Twitter/@narendramodi

Indian and Malaysian social media users have not been very happy with each other of late, with people on both sides calling for their fellow countrymen to either #BoycottMalaysia or #BoycottIndia.

But that doesn’t mean that the big shots at the government level are keen to take part in the war of words. According to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, his Indian counterpart has not expressed any displeasure with him or Malaysians.

“So far, I’ve not received any feedback. I had told (Prime Minister of India) Narendra Modi to contact me if he is unhappy or dissatisfied,” Mahathir was quoted by New Straits Times (NST) as saying at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday (Oct 8).

The brouhaha online first started when Mahathir addressed the Jammu and Kashmir issue in a United Nations General Assembly speech on September 27.

He later repeated these comments on Twitter.

“The helplessness of the world in stopping atrocities inflicted on the Rohingyas in Myanmar had reduced the regard for the resolution of the UN. Now, despite UN resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, the country has been invaded and occupied,” he said.

“There may be reasons for this action but it is still wrong. The problem must be solved by peaceful means. India should work with Pakistan to resolve this problem. Ignoring the UN would lead to other forms of disregard for the UN and the Rule of Law.

Twitter screengrabs/@chedetofficial

After the speech, Indian Twitter users expressed outrage at Mahathir’s comments, and called for a boycott on all things Malaysian.

Malaysians were, of course, quick to fight back, and many called for a boycott on all things Indian in response.

According to NST, the Malaysian premier defended his remarks on Tuesday, saying: “We don’t give criticism to side with anyone, but we call for both parties to discuss, use arbitration or go to the court of law, not to resort to violence.”

News website The Star quoted Mahathir as saying that he had made the same remarks to India’s PM Modi when they met in Russia in September.

“My speech (at the UN general assembly) is a follow-up, where I said that we don’t want to see any violence or disputes between countries. That’s all we said,” The Star quoted him as saying.

However, Mahathir also acknowledged there were were people who were unhappy “with the mild criticisms of India”.

Earlier on the same day, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the #BoycottMalaysia trend was “slowly dying off”, Free Malaysia Today reported.

Malaysia’s government “wants to be friends and trade with all countries except Israel”, he added.

According to Saifuddin, India is Malaysia’s 10th largest trading partner, with trade expected to reach up to US$15 billion.