New Delhi: India is set to start hydroxychloroquine exports to Malaysia, with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing Delhi and Kuala Lumpur to look past recent irritants in the relationship.
India has added Malaysia to the list of 55 countries to which it exports hydroxychloroquine, diplomatic sources told ThePrint.
Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, has been touted as a promising cure for Covid-19 by the likes of US President Donald Trump despite the absence of any conclusive research to back the claim.
India’s decision follows a months-long chill in the relationship over concerns in Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion, about New Delhi’s decisions to strip Jammu & Kashmir of its special status by scrapping Article 370 and introduce the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) across India.
Under former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Kuala Lumpur had seen both decisions as inimical to India’s Muslim citizens. However, bilateral ties have improved slowly since a change in the government there this February that saw Mahathir Mohamad ousted.
In March, immediately after taking over, new Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin extended an olive branch to India, which eventually relaxed restrictions over palm oil imports from Kuala Lumpur by not renewing the 5 per cent import duty imposed in September 2019. India is the world’s biggest palm buyer and a major market for Malaysia, the commodity’s second-largest producer.
Last month, before the world went into lockdown mode over the pandemic, PM Yassin had expressed a “desire to strengthen ties” with India after he received a congratulatory letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
High Commissioner called on Hon’ble PM @MuhyiddinYassin & handed over congratulatory letter from PM @narendramodi. Thanking PM Modi for the letter, Malaysian PM expressed keen desire to strengthen ties with India. @PMOIndia @DrSJaishankar @MEAIndia @MalaysiaMFA pic.twitter.com/z9uVvFY1eL
— India in Malaysia (@hcikl) March 16, 2020
Chill in ties
Ties between India and Malaysia had deteriorated rapidly last year when, after the Article 370 move, Mahathir stated at the UN General Assembly that it has “invaded and occupied” Kashmir. He later said people in India were “dying” due to the CAA, which has been controversial for introducing a religious ground for citizenship claims from Afghan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi refugees.
“The relationship with Malaysia took a hit because of PM Mahathir’s friendship with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan,” veteran diplomat M. Bhadrakumar told ThePrint. “Besides, he was too aggressive in his Islamist agenda. The new dispensation is also Islamist but they are also maintaining neutrality.”
As of Tuesday, Malaysia had 5,482 Covid-19 cases, with 92 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.
On Sunday, the Ministry of External Affairs had facilitated the repatriation of 92 Malaysians from India by collaborating with its Kuala Lumpur counterpart.
Happy to work with Malaysian Govt in assisting our Malaysians brothers & sisters in returning from India. https://t.co/L3tad22fAX
— India in Malaysia (@hcikl) April 19, 2020
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