Malaysia imports 130,000 tons of sugar from India

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Updated 26 January 2020

Malaysia imports 130,000 tons of sugar from India

  • The amount is a leap from last year’s raw sugar imports
  • MSM is the leading sugar refiner in Asia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has agreed to import 130,000 tons of raw sugar from India for $49 million, despite an ongoing row over palm oil trade between the two countries.

The amount is a leap from last year’s raw sugar imports from India of 88,000 tons. Malaysia’s sugar producer MSM Malaysia Holdings Berhad (MSM) said it has procured the first quarter of its raw sugar requirement from India for 2020, and is expecting the arrival of three more shipments between January and February.

MSM is the leading sugar refiner in Asia, with annual production capacity of up to 2.25 million tons of refined sugar.

The company operates under the world’s largest palm oil producer FGV Holdings, which is a unit of the Malaysian state-owned Federal Land Development Authority.

MSM Group CEO Khairil Anuar Aziz said in a statement released on Thursday that the company decided to import Indian sugar due to “the acceptable quality and competitive freight cost of raw sugar produced from India.”

India is among the world’s largest sugar producers alongside Brazil and Thailand. “Over 900,000 metric tons of raw sugar were imported in 2019 from various top producing countries, which include India,” said Anuar Aziz.

MSM did not cite the palm oil dispute as a cause for the increase in sugar imports, but sources from Reuters reported that the move was a bid to appease India, which has been urging Malaysia to reduce the trade deficit between the countries.

“These are two large Asian economies that are no strangers to international trade,” said Dr. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

“Hopefully with this and similar friendly measures the two countries will patch over their differences of opinion and restore their previously cordial relations.”

Earlier this month, India decided to halt its refined palm oil imports from the country, which analysts at the time said could affect Malaysia’s palm oil trade.

The move followed critical comments from Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over India’s treatments of its minority Muslim population.

Death toll rises to 32 in religious violence in India’s capital

Updated 27 February 2020

Death toll rises to 32 in religious violence in India’s capital

  • Uneasy calm prevailing in northeast Delhi
  • Modi government blames opposition for violence

NEW DELHI: At least 32 people have been killed in the deadliest violence to engulf India’s capital New Delhi for decades as a heavy deployment of security forces brought an uneasy calm on Thursday, a police official said.
The violence began over a disputed new citizenship law on Monday but led to clashes between Muslims and Hindus in which hundreds were injured. Many suffered gunshot wounds, while arson, looting and stone-throwing has also taken place.
“The death count is now at 32,” Delhi police spokesman Anil Mittal said, adding the “entire area is peaceful now.”
At the heart of the unrest is a citizenship law which makes it easier for non-Muslims from some neighboring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the new law adopted last December is of “great concern” and she was worried by reports of police inaction in the face of assaults against Muslims by other groups.
“I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence,” Bachelet said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Critics say the law is biased against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has denied having any prejudice against India’s 180 million Muslims, saying that law is required to help persecuted minorities.
New Delhi has been the epicenter for protests against the new law, with students and large sections of the Muslim community leading the protests.
As the wounded were brought to hospitals on Thursday, the focus shifted on the overnight transfer of Justice S. Muralidhar, a Delhi High Court judge who was hearing a petition into the riots and had criticized government and police inaction on Wednesday.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the transfer was routine and had been recommended by the Supreme Court collegium earlier this month.
Opposition Congress party leader Manish Tiwari said every lawyer and judge in India should strongly protest what he called a crude attempt to intimidate the judiciary.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said inflammatory speeches at the protests over the new citizenship law in the last few months and the tacit support of some opposition leaders was behind the violence.
“The investigation is on,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who romped to re-election last May, also withdrew Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy in August with the objective of tightening New Delhi’s grip on the restive region, which is also claimed by full by Pakistan.
For months the government imposed severe restrictions in Kashmir including cutting telephone and Internet lines, while keeping hundreds of people, including mainstream political leaders, in custody for fear that they could whip up mass protests. Some restrictions have since been eased.
Bachelet said the Indian government continued to impose excessive restrictions on the use of social media in the region, even though some political leaders have been released, and ordinary life may be returning to normal in some respects.