Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reported to be still adamant about not allowing Israeli athletes into the country to compete.
Insisting that they are from a ‘criminal country’, he said that every country has a right to keep undesirable people out of the country, including people suspected of being terrorist and the like.
“We don’t want to have anything to do with them (Israel), including their people. If they want to compete in sports, they can go to other countries. But for Malaysia, they are coming from a criminal country and we cannot accept them.
“Every country has the right to accept or refuse entry to other people. We have that right and we must exercise it,” he was reported to have said by The Star after delivering keynote address at the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA), at the Vienna International Centre on 22nd January 2019. He added that the athletes came from a country that did what they liked, including building settlements in other people’s territories and excluding the very people from that country, referring to Israeli.
“They have raided our ship carrying aid to the Gaza people, there are many other things done by Israel that are against international laws and against morality,” he said.
While Israeli had objected to the ban of its athletes entering Malaysia to compete in the 2019 World Para Swimming Championship, even accusing Dr Mahathir of being an antisemitic. On that Dr Mahathir had responded saying that as much as Israeli has the freedom of speech to call him an anti-Semitic, he has the right to comment on them being “hooked nosed” with “an instinctive sense of money”.
“We are free to say what we like, we can say something that can be regarded as anti-Semitic by the Jews. That is their right to hold such an opinion of me. It is my right to tell them they have been doing a lot of wrong things,” he said.
Previously, Dr Mahathir had commented that Israelis should not come to Malaysia as Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
“Many nations today are seeing outsiders coming to their countries and are not very happy about it. They overthrow their governments because they allow immigrants to come in.
“So, a country has the right to keep its border closed to certain people, that is why the border is there, but in Malaysia, we have no diplomatic relations with Israel at all and we feel that they are doing a lot of wrong things but getting away with them because nobody dares to say anything against them,” he was reported to have said after deliver the Oxford Union talk from London on 19th January 2019.