MALAYSIA will not deport two detained Cambodian opposition leaders back to their country but will instead look for a third country to take them in, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.
The prime minister said Putrajaya did not want to get involved in the internal affairs of Cambodia.
“We want to send them back but there are some who want them here… we are looking for a third country to accept them,” he said.
“We don’t want t have any conflicts with other nations. That is their internal issue. Our principle is not to interfere in their matters,” he said, today.
Earlier today, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) confirmed that two Cambodian opposition activists were detained by the authorities but would not be deported.
Commissioner Jerald Joseph said the duo, one of whom was an asylum seeker, were held at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) holding centre.
“They are waiting to be processed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to be temporarily resettled in another country,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
The Cambodians were arrested on Monday night and were due to be sent home the next day.
The deportation order has since been withdrawn following an appeal from Suhakam.
Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said the detainees were members of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was outlawed by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
He said sending the duo back could put them “at risk of serious human rights violations”
CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua is one of the two detainees.
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has confirmed Cambodia’s request to Malaysia to deport the two opposition leaders.