Malaysian government defends presence of companies supplying weapons to Israel at defense show

Malaysia’s defense minister says he will not interfere with weapons manufacturers’ business relationships with other countries after protesters called on the government to ban companies that supply arms to Israel from an international exhibition.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — Malaysia’s defense minister said on Tuesday that Malaysia will continue to work with arms manufacturers and other countries after protesters called on the government to expel companies that supply weapons to Israel from international exhibitions. He said he would not interfere in business relationships.

More than 1,300 companies from 60 countries are participating in Defense Services Asia and the concurrent National Security Asia exhibition, which began on Monday. The event is hosted and co-hosted by the Malaysian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Palestine Solidarity Coalition held a short rally outside the exhibition center on Tuesday to protest the presence of US arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin Co. and European missile maker MBDA, among others, which provide arms to Israel. The coalition accused the manufacturer of complicity in Israel’s attack on Gaza.

They said the presence of these companies is inconsistent with the Malaysian government’s support for a Palestinian state and is insensitive to the many Malaysians who oppose Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories. Muslims make up two-thirds of Malaysia’s population of 34 million.

“We call on the Malaysian government to take a firm and consistent stand. It must not allow these brutal arms dealers to participate and stop their warmongering,” said coalition government spokesperson Tian. Mr Chua said.

Defense Minister Khalid Nordin said Malaysia opposes all forms of injustice against the Palestinian people, but is also a “free trading country”. He said the exhibition is a venue for the defense industry to showcase the latest technology and help countries strengthen their defense preparedness.

“This exhibition does not favor or favor any particular country or company,” Khaled said in a statement. “The relationship between some global defense companies and certain countries is a business matter and Malaysia will not intervene.”

He pointed out that many Islamic countries are participating in the exhibition, including Turkey, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Pakistan.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also called for arms suppliers to be expelled from the country.

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