REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, KUALA LUMPUR - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his capacity as President of Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF), calls the world to help Muslim ethnic minority Rohingya. He delivered the message on his keynote speech at the International Conference 'Plight of the Rohingya: Solution?' in Kuala Lumpur on Monday evening.
The conference, attended by 300 participants from several global organizations, discusses and formulated solutions to the conflict in Rohingya, which include persecution, statelessness, violence and mass displacement. The former minister said violence and conflict surrounding the Rohingya could only be resolved when the Myanmar government recognized the group as citizens.
"It is very unfortunate that people should be killed and houses burnt, simply because the Myanmar government refuses to recognise its own citizens," he said on the conference as cited on the New Straits Times.
He questioned Myanmar over its policy that excludes a group that had been in the country for more than a thousand years while other countries could accept foreigners as citizens. The law has created problems for other countries, such as Thailand, Bangladesh and Malaysia, where many Rohingya had been forced to take refugee.
"Myanmar has shown its willingness to be part of a world community, as seen through its membership and involvement in ASEAN. It has shown that it is ready to transform itself from an authoritarian state to a democracy, where the people have to right to choose their own leaders. So it would be a shame and a gross injustice if large segments of its population are denied this right," he said.
The President Director of Indonesia's Dompet Dhuafa, Ismail A Said, who attended the conference, recommended Mahathir to lead the action to help Rohingya and collaborate with Indonesian former Vice President Jusuf Kalla to overcome Rohingya's crisis.