Anwar backs Israel’ remark spurs verbal war

KUALA LUMPUR: An heated exchange erupted in the Dewan Rakyat after Foreign Minister Anifah Aman claimed that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim supported Israel’s attacks on Palestine.

This accusation came during Anifah’s response to Libaran MP Juslie Ajirol’s query on what Malaysia was doing to help Palestine.

Anifah said that Malaysia had condemned Israel for its actions against Palestine and was in support of a “Two-State Solution” for the conflict-ridden states.

Several minutes into his speech, Anifah lashed out against Anwar and linked the latter’s Jan 26 interview with the Asian Wall Street Journal as a sign of support for Israel.

“Lately, we have been shaken by the sensational statement by the opposition leader in the AWSJ, where he stressed ‘I support all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel’.

“This statement clearly shows his acceptance and support towards any cruel action by Israel’s regime against the Palestinians all this while,” he told the House.

Anifah however failed to mention the statement that came after Anwar’s “state of Israel” comment.

The AWSJ article entitled “Malaysia’s Anwar Presses on Despite Appeal” stated: “…although he (Anwar) stopped short of saying he would open diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, a step which he said remains contingent on Israel respecting the aspirations of Israel.”

The foreign minister also stressed that Barisan Nasional would never support the state of Israel.

Anifah comes under fire

Responding, Shah Alam MP (PAS) Khalid Samad said: “This is an incorrect statement. He (Anifah) knows that (Anwar) said more than that… He’s doing it to confuse the House!”

Ipoh Barat MP (DAP) M Kulasegaran accused Anifah of “personally implicating” the opposition leader.

Gombak MP (PKR) Azmin Ali also slammed the minister for trying to smear the opposition. “This is not Umno’s Dewan! This is the Dewan Rakyat!” he shouted.

Predictably, BN MPs egged on their Pakatan Rakyat counterparts, taunting them throughout the exchange, which lasted for more than half an hour.

Kinabatangan MP (Umno) Bung Mokhtar Radin said: “Since when does BN tell lies?… Supporters of Israel, what are you afraid of (‘Penyokong Israel, apa takut!’).”

Deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi Wan Jaafar called for calm, adding that he would look into the matter and make a decision over it later.

During a press conference at the Parliament lobby later, Azmin said that Anifah’s statement was only to “feed Umno and BN’s appetite.”

The PKR MP then demanded that the minister be referred to the Parliament’s Rights and Priviliges Committee for further action.

The attacks against Anifah however did not end there.

Absentee foreign minister

In another press conference, Pakatan MPs asked why Malaysia had not taken a stand against Syria’s role in the Syrian Uprising.

Balik Pulau MP (PKR) Yusmadi Yusoff said that Malaysia had not said anything about Syria despite being a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

“Malaysia is in a special position in the Middle East as a leading country in the OIC. (But) our regret about Malaysia’s attitude… they did not put Syria as a main issue,” he said.

Yusmadi then claimed that Malaysia appeared to be more interested in foreign relations than foreign policies.

“We Malaysia are supposed to be part of the global solidarity (movement) to free Syria,” he added.

Bukit Bendera MP (DAP) Liew Chin Tong said that Malaysia was “absent” in major foreign issues, especially Syria, Burma and Palestine.

He said that he had posed a question to Parliament on how many days Anifah spent at Wisma Putra (the Foreign Ministry), his constituency in Kimanis, Kota Kinabalu and even how long his official overseas visits were.

However, this question, according to Liew, was rejected by the Parliament secretariat.

“Do we have a foreign minister or is he an absentee foreign minister?” Liew asked.

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