Boycott will only hurt M’sians

Meet the press: Kagan speaking to reporters at his residence in Kuala Lumpur. — FAIHAN GHANI/ The Star

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 all parties have the right to express their views peacefully and however they want, including through boycotts or peaceful protests.

“We have all seen the dangers of rhetoric and how quickly it can spiral beyond rhetoric 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 is by Saudis.

“The people who are suffering as a result (of the boycotts) are the Malaysian employees. I think there may be some symbolic satisfaction in doing that, but ultimately the people who 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 at his private residence here yesterday.

Kagan, however, did not reveal the names of the companies concerned.

“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 very grateful for the outstanding support and cooperation we have received from the Malaysian government to ensure security of our facilities and our people,” he added.

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

Kagan said the United States appreciated how strongly Malaysians feel about the situation in Gaza and was committed to taking meaningful action on the issue, including providing humanitarian aid.

“Firstly, we are committed to providing humanitarian assistance into Gaza to try and ensure we avoid a major humanitarian catastrophe beyond what has happened. And so, we are 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,” he said.

“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 would allow for the ceasefire,” the ambassador added.

Kagan said 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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US , Gaza , Palestine , Boycotts , South China Sea


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