Special Correspondent

Don’t want to engage in verbal exchanges with Malaysian Minister: Karunanidhi

CHENNAI: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday joined issue with Malaysian Minister Nazri Aziz, who criticised him for expressing concern over the condition of Tamils in the Southeast Asian nation.

Mr. Karunanidhi said he had not criticised the Malaysian Government, but only urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take steps for protecting the Tamils in Malaysia. “It is my duty to bring it to the notice of the Prime Minister. I have carried it out on behalf of the people of Tamil Nadu,” he said.

However, Mr. Karunanidhi said he did not want to engage in verbal exchanges with the Malaysian Minister.

Mr. Aziz was quoted as saying by the online version of The New Straits Times, Malaysia: “His [Mr. Karunanidhi’s] place is in Tamil Nadu, not Malaysia. He should worry about his own state. His own state has got problems.”

“This has got nothing to do with him ... lay off,” Mr. Aziz was stated to have commented on Wednesday.

His statement was in response to reports in the Indian media on Mr. Karunanidhi’s observations on the police action against the organisers of a rally taken out on Sunday. The Chief Minister, in his letter to the Prime Minister, wanted the Union Government to take immediate and appropriate action on the “sufferings and bad treatment” of the Tamils in Malaysia.

P.S. Suryanarayana adds from Singapore:

On the floor of the Malaysian Parliament, Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Parliamentary Secretary in the Foreign Ministry, said Indians in Malaysia were better off than those in India, when seen in the perspective of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Replying to opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, who raised the issue of Mr. Karunanidhi’s unhappiness, he said “We have many Indian workers here, and their presence is a testimony that the situation in Malaysia is far better than [that] in India.”

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