Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad said that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) should be removed from the country’s list of terrorist groups.
Mohamad, a veteran politician that has dominated Malaysian politics for decades, was speaking about a letter he is purported to have written in January while he was still Prime Minister to the then Home Minister and now prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in which he was reported to have urged Mr Yassin to scrap LTTE from the terrorist groups list.
Whilst he declared that he does not support the LTTE, he said he saw no reason to continue designating the group as ‘terrorist’ as it does not pose any threat to Malaysia. Mr Mohamad questioned the wisdom of branding LTTE ‘terrorist’ while the group is now considered defunct and does no harm to Malaysia.
“So this I would like to ask, why should we look for problems, there was no problem, why do we want to look for problem?” Mr Mohamad asked. “And this problem happens because of Sri Lanka not us. We don’t need to take that kind of action unless they have done bad things in Malaysia.”
The former premier went on to compare the issue with the Palestinian armed group Hamas. He insisted that a group shouldn’t be put into the terrorists list just because other countries do so. “America lists Hamas in the terrorist groups list. But I met its leader Ismail Haniyeh as he was my friend,” Mr Mohamad said.
Malaysia police make arrests last year (Photo via @MelGohCNA)
The current Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin still regards LTTE as a terrorist group and has shown no inclination towards removing it from the terrorist groups list. Last year, several Tamils were arrested by Malaysian authorities on suspicion of having links with the LTTE.