Malaysian Prime Minister says China too powerful to be questioned for Uygur persecution

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

(, Oct01’19) – Nonagenarian Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has admitted that Muslim countries refuse to censure China for its systematically brutal ill-treatment of their coreligionists in Xinjiang because the latter is too “powerful” and they do not want to endanger their flourishing economic ties with the repressive atheist party-state. The remark is seen as bringing into question Malaysia’s efforts to make Muslim solidarity a central pillar of its foreign policy.

During the United Nations General Assembly the week before, Mahathir had trained his sights on Israel, saying that its creation by seizing Palestinian land was “the origin of terrorism” and had negatively impacted Muslims globally, noted Sep 30.

He had also lambasted Asean neighbour Myanmar for its systematic targeting of its Rohingya Muslim minority, referring to the crisis as “a genocide”.

The report noted that’s just week before, Mahathir’s government had launched a new foreign-policy framework, a central focus of which was fostering cooperation in the Muslim world, with Malaysia pledging to play a prominent role in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

However, he not only remained mum on the persecution of Muslim Uygurs but also later told a Malaysian news portal that “China is a very powerful nation”. The remarks were stated to have come under fire on social media.

“You don’t just try and do something which would any way fail, so it is better to find some other less violent ways not to antagonise China too much, because China is beneficial for us,” he was quoted as having said.

Many Muslim countries which are scathing in their condemnation of Israel and Myanmar for the latter’s alleged ill-treatment of Muslims but had in fact praised China for its incarceration of more than a millions Xinjiang Uygurs in concentration camps under tortuous conditions. It was left to the democratic West to do whatever it could to speak up for the Uygurs during the recent United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva in the face of the Muslim countries’ outspoken support for China.

The report noted that in Jun 2019, Malaysia’s Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Rawa visited the autonomous region of Xinjiang and praised an internment camp, describing it as a model vocational and training institution.

The report cited Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front think tank as saying China’s position as Malaysia’s most important trade partner had given it some immunity from criticism and that and doing pushback would mean “disaster”.

“In the end, it is economic concerns that triumph over human rights,” he was quoted as saying.

The report noted that Uygurs in concentration camps in Xinjiang were being politically indoctrinated. It cited Uygurs who had left China as saying they were physically and mentally tortured, forced to eat pork and study communist propaganda, and were separated from their families.


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