KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 ― Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin confirmed he has lobbied for Malaysian football team to boycott this year’s Asean Football Federation’s (AFF) Suzuki Cup due to co-host Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Khairy said he has brought up the issue in the Cabinet meeting last week, and will continue doing so in the same meeting this week.
“I raised this issue in Cabinet last week. Will do so again this week and stand guided by decision,” Khairy said on his Twitter account today.
Khairy’s remark came after Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin became the latest to urge the boycott by the Harimau Malaysia team, four days after the regional tournament started on Saturday.
Malaysia won its first game against Cambodia 3-2 on Sunday, and currently leads Group B in the Cup that also includes Vietnam and host Myanmar.
Matches involving Group A are held in the Philippines instead, with the co-host facing Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.
“What is the meaning of sports without humanity? More than that, it is an extreme cruelty against one of mankind’s ethnic group and they are Muslims.
“We really hope for the government’s strictness in this matter,” Asri said on his official Facebook page last night.
Asri said the boycott is needed to protest the purported cruelty and tyranny of the Myanmar government against the Rohingyas, including the murder of children, rape, burning them alive and other alleged crimes against humanity.
Violence has recently escalated in the Rakhine state, with Myanmar’s six-month-old government led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi blaming insurgency by Islamist militants for military attacks which has killed at least 26 people.
The 1.1 million Rohingya living in Rakhine state face discrimination, severe restrictions on their movements and access to services, especially since inter-communal violence in 2012 that displaced 125,000 people.
The Rohingya are not among the 135 ethnic groups officially recognised in Myanmar, where many in the Buddhist majority regard them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh