Protest boycotts are the people's right but they only hurt Malaysians, says US envoy


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have the right to express their views peacefully but the calls to boycott international products purportedly linked to Israel will only hurt local employees, says US Ambassador to Malaysia Edgard D. Kagan.

He stressed that people have the right to express their views in whatever way they want.

"We all have seen the dangers of rhetoric and how quickly it can spiral beyond that to dangerous actions. I think it is unfortunate because ultimately, as most of you know, (of) the two main outlets being boycotted, one is owned by a Malaysian and the other by Saudis.

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"The people who are suffering as a result (of the boycott) are the Malaysian employees.

"I think there may be some symbolic satisfaction in doing that, but ultimately the people that are really hurt are not Israel, and not the United States.

"So in that sense it’s unfortunate," he said during a roundtable discussion with selected media representatives at his private residence here on Tuesday (April 2).

However, he did not reveal the names of the companies.

The escalating humanitarian crisis in Palestine, particularly in Gaza, starting from Oct 7 had sparked a wave of boycotts including in Malaysia against various Israeli goods and international brands with alleged Zionist links.

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"We strongly support the right of peaceful protest. And obviously our preference would be that they not see us as the way to express dissatisfaction with Israel because we are not Israel.

"But we also understand that’s the reality we are operating in. We are grateful for the outstanding support and cooperation from the Malaysian government to ensure security of our facilities and our people," added Kagan.

He also noted that the United States appreciated how strongly Malaysians feel about the situation in Gaza and was committed to take meaningful actions on the issue including providing humanitarian aid.

"Firstly, we are committed to provide assistance to Gaza to try and ensure we avoid a major humanitarian catastrophe beyond what has happened. And so we’re working with partners on that. We look to do more to make sure the people of Gaza have enough to eat and are able to survive.

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"We also believe that it is very important to have an immediate and sustained ceasefire that includes the release of hostages.

"There are actions that both sides need to take and we believe it is very important for both sides to take those actions which will allow for the ceasefire," noted the ambassador.

He explained that beyond that, it was important to recognise the need to have a credible path towards building peace and security for those living in Israel and for Palestinians.

"And this will require a serious process that leads to a Two-State Solution," he said.

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