US embassy marks independence day amid anti-genocide protest as Loke joins in toast

June 10 saw a peaceful demonstration outside the Kuala Lumpur hotel where the US embassy was hosting an event to commemorate the nation’s 248th anniversary of independence. Dozens of demonstrators held signs denouncing the US government’s continued support of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. In contrast to previous embassy-hosted July 4th festivities, this year’s took place in the face of considerable anti-US sentiment in Malaysia and demands for boycotts in support of Palestinians.

A minor disturbance occurred when a demonstrator shouting anti-Washington chants was taken out of the hotel by two guys wearing suits.

Not to be outdone, former Umno Youth president Khairy Jamaluddin had pleaded with the Malaysian government to keep out of the festivities two weeks prior to the event.

“This time, I implore the administration to send no ministers. It’s not that severe; we are not severing diplomatic ties. On his podcast, Keluar Sekejap, he stated, “I’m just saying that we want to send a signal, so don’t send any ministers.”

“Please do not go as a sign of protest against the genocide-enabling US government.”

Several representatives of civil society did attend the embassy’s previous Independence Day festivities, although it is reported that there was a notable lack of well-known activists.
They included Cynthia Gabriel, the founder of the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism, and Karen Wong from the Sabah Women Entrepreneurs & Professionals Association.

Anthony Loke, the secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and minister of transportation, represented the Malaysian government at the ceremonial toast with ambassador Edgard D. Kagan.

Images from the event were shared on social media, drawing criticism and mocking comments directed at the US government.

On its Instagram account, the US embassy stated: “Our shared values and faith in diversity, democracy, good governance, and transparency have underpinned our relationship as well the investment, cultural, digital, and trade ties that make the US-Malaysia comprehensive partnership flourish.”

Remarks against Israel’s military operation, which has killed at least 35,000 people so far—mostly women and children—were made in response to this.

“Well, well, celebrating Independence Day with genocide huh?” said a user.

Are we as a nation truly independent? “I believed that Israel was still occupying you,” Farihah Fahmy wrote.

Several hashtags were used in response by others, including #removeusembassy, #stopgenocide, #usagenocide, #unitedstatesofisrael, #stopusa, #savetheworld, #freepalestine, #freehumanity, and #usaisworldcriminal.

Nor was Loke spared for going to the function.

“Palestine should be free. “@lokesiewfook, you’re a shame,” Amirul Rahman Zamri remarked.

“He’s just a scapegoat who was forced by his boss to attend an event hosted by people that nobody likes,” at least one commenter backed the minister, though.

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