The prime minister’s new approach for a “civilised Malaysia” is rooted in Islam. It addresses the country's inequalities in terms of ethnicity, religion, regions and other ills. It promises justice for all and fairness in foreign policy. Doubts remain about its effective implementation.
Foreign workers come mainly from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Indonesia and have few rights, as indicated by a recent report by the International Organisation for Migration. Malaysia is the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, but its exports are threatened by environmental restrictions adopted last December by the European Union.
Today's headlines: as Pyongyang tests more missiles, Seoul warns of risk of exposure to radioactive materials. In Vietnam, US diplomats prevented from meeting Christian leaders. 150 asylum seekers died in Malaysia in 2022, while on the island of Nauru two migrants sewed their lips shut in protest.
Except for Singapore, the only country in the region to have imposed sanctions on Russia, most SE Asian countries have not taken sides. The biggest concern is the rising cost of raw material. Several states have maintained relations with Russia, partly because of its propaganda, also relayed by China.
Yesterday’s march was organised by the youth wing of the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), which lost in last November’s election. Reacting to the event, Islamic Affairs minister urges Muslims not to get involved in divisive activities. Muslims constitute 63.5 per cent of Malaysia’s population while ethnic Malays are 51 per cent.
According to Human Rights Watch, at least 2,000 refugees were forcibly repatriated last year, mostly ethnic Rohingya. Malaysia is not a signatory to the refugee convention, and after the pandemic, local public opinion has turned against asylum seekers.