Malaysia: Columnist sparks controversy for criticising Rohingya protests
Share this on

Malaysia: Columnist sparks controversy for criticising Rohingya protests

A CONTROVERSIAL columnist has angered many over a Facebook post in which she slammed Rohingya protests as “causing trouble” and creating traffic in Malaysia’s largest city.

Responding to a demonstration of some 1,200 largely Rohingya Muslim refugees in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Boo Su-Lyn of the Malay Mail Online wrote: “If they’ve already come here for refuge and jobs, they shouldn’t be causing trouble and traffic jams.”

Posted on her Facebook page where she declares she “believe[s] in freedom of speech, equality and personal freedoms,” Boo wrote that “I personally think foreigners shouldn’t be allowed to do street demos here.”

If they've already come here for refuge and jobs, they shouldn't be causing trouble and traffic jams

Posted by Boo Su-Lyn on Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Protesters on Tuesday were calling for an end to violence against Rohingya in Burma’s (Myanmar) restive Rakhine State, which has spurred thousands of people to flee their homes.

Malaysia is home to almost 60,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers, many who have lived in the country for decades.

SEE ALSO: Two dozen bodies wash up in Bangladesh as Rohingyas desperately flee Burma

“If you’re living in a foreign country, follow the local laws and customs,” Boo wrote, “So, don’t wear shorts in Acheh, don’t give the Nazi salute in Germany and do send your kids for mixed-gender swimming lessons in Switzerland even if it’s against your religious beliefs.”

“Any locals who organised the Rohingya demonstration in KL should be arrested for instigating an illegal act,” she said. The columnist wrote that the Malaysian government should “take them in” but “repatriate them as soon as possible” because there was a limit to what Malaysia “can take.”


Rohingya refugees stands in an open place during heavy rain, as they are hold by Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) after illegally crossing the border, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, August 31, 2017. Source: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Earlier this week, the International Organisation for Migration said that more than 18,000 Rohingya – mostly women and children – had fled the violence into Bangladesh. Many are sick and have bullet wounds.

Boo last year won the Suhakam Human Rights Award. During her acceptance speech, she said: “we are in a dark time. A time when people are locked up just for organising peaceful rallies.”

SEE ALSO: Rohingya ‘had to drink toilet water’ in Malaysian detention – report

“Malaysia should be working towards democracy, as we aim to be a developed nation by 2020. We should be strengthening the protection of human rights and civil liberties, like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” she said.

Many netizens were incensed by the comments, with some calling for Boo’s award to be revoked.