Malaysian premier rebuffs US travel advisory
Despite US warning of kidnappings in tourist areas, Mahathir Mohamad says his country is 'safe'
Malaysia’s prime minister on Thursday rebuffed the U.S. advising its citizens against visiting his country.
Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia is a “safe nation,” daily The Star reported.
“One or two terrorists have been caught, but otherwise we are a safe country,” he told an American-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce luncheon in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
The statement came after the U.S. State Department warned potential visitors of “kidnappings-for-ransom from both terrorist and criminal groups .... targeting coastal resorts, island resorts, and boats ferrying tourists to resort islands."
However, Mahathir said that people can come to Malaysia and “there is no need for an advisory.”
Addressing American-Malaysians at the luncheon, Mahathir said: “I am quite sure you can come here for dinner, or lunch, and you feel quite safe, but in some countries, even as you are praying, they can kill you,” referring to last month's terrorist massacre at a New Zealand mosque.
“For some reason or another, we are not getting American tourists. No American planes or companies fly to Malaysia,” he said.
“They fly to Singapore but not to Malaysia. I have always wondered why, we are nice people.”
The newspaper said the Malaysian Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdir on Wednesday to explain her government's decision.
She was handed a “protest note, expressing the Malaysian's government's objection to the decision by the United States.”
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