‘No change of stance on Palestine’

Cool gear: A visitor testing out military equipment at the DSA and NatSec Asia 2024 military exhibition at MITEC, Kuala Lumpur. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no change to Malaysia’s stand regarding the conflict in Palestine despite questions over the participation of several defence companies that had allegedly supplied arms to the Israeli military, says Defence Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin.

He said the Defence Services Asia (DSA) military exhibition showed that Malaysia practises free trade.

“However, we are not setting aside our stance regarding Palestine and Gaza,” he told reporters at the DSA and National Security (NatSec) Asia 2024 here yesterday.

The minister was responding to questions over the participation of the companies that were alleged to be supplying weapons to Israel.

In a statement released earlier on the issue, the minister said the DSA and Natsec exhibitions did not favour any country or company.

The exhibition, he added, is open to all countries and industry players to market their products and services in Malaysia.

He added that there is a huge participation from Muslim countries such as Turkiye, Indonesia, the UAE, Iran and Pakistan.

“Besides Muslim countries, the exhibition is also an important arena for defence industry players from South Korea, China, India and Singapore,” he said.

Khaled said he is aware of protests by certain parties over the involvement of several defence industry players in the exhibition which were alleged to be weapon suppliers to Israel.

“Malaysia is a free trade country, which gives space to all global industry players to market their products and services.

“Thus, Malaysia takes an approach not to intervene in matters involving any global companies from any particular country,” he added.

Khaled said Malaysia would not interfere in relations between “several global defence companies with a certain country” in the course of their business.

“The aim of organising the exhibition is clear, which is to give space and opportunity to all parties to showcase their expertise as well as the latest defence technology. It enables the governments of various countries and global industry players to explore various new technologies and innovations to elevate defence preparedness,” he said.

He also emphasised that the exhibition was organised by a private entity, with the government not spending funds organising it.

“No defence procurement has been conducted without taking into account Malaysia’s global stand, especially on the Palestine-Israel conflict as well as our national interests.

“The Defence Ministry is always consistent in carrying the country’s policy, which is against any injustice over Palestine,” he said.

Earlier yesterday, several protesters gathered outside the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec), where the exhibition is held, to protest the participation of the alleged companies.

Palestinian Solidarity Secretariat spokesman Tian Chua said the protest was to “express their concerns to the government” and that the government should had been more sensitive to the current situation in Palestine.

“You must be consistent with your foreign policy.

“You can’t say that you support Palestine but then contribute to the profits of these companies,” he said.

It was reported that Bersatu had called on the Malaysian government to prohibit two companies allegedly involved in supplying weapons to the Israeli military.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on his X account called for the companies to be expelled from Malaysia and that their presence at the exhibitions “were highly offensive to the Palestinian people”.

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