KL Summit 2019 established stronger alliance among Muslim countries
KL Summit 2019 established stronger alliance...
A summit of Muslim leaders kicked off in the Malaysian capital on Thursday (Dec 19) with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in his opening. Mahathir insisted that the meeting was an attempt to understand why Islam, the Muslims and their countries were "in a state of crisis, helpless and unworthy of this great religion".
Dr Mahathir said problems existing among Muslims would be discussed “at the highest levels of the state but involving only a few countries for a start”. “We are not discriminating or isolating anyone,” he added. Summit organisers say 450 delegates from 56 countries are in attendance.
Dr Ma'ruf Amin, Vice-President of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim majority country, on Wednesday announced he won't be going to the summit after all, citing health issues, and that it is sending its foreign minister instead. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was earlier scheduled to speak at the event, also gave the summit a miss.
The Kuala Lumpur meeting has been viewed in some Islamic circles as a gathering of Muslim countries not aligned with Saudi Arabia. Instead, leaders of the trio of countries with tense ties with Saudi Arabia flew into KL - the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
For his part, Iran's Rouhani said his presence in Kuala Lumpur is part of a "pivot to the East" policy and an effort to pursue "closer ties with major Asian countries". Iran faces US economic sanctions, which Malaysia's Mahathir described as a violation of international law.
Samsudin Osman, the summit secretary-general, said that the event, an initiative of Mahathir, seeks to produce "results" on addressing "the plight of the Muslims" around the world. "We need something concrete ... that governments who are committed to the idea can implement," he said, adding that the event also seeks to correct "many misconceptions" about Islam as a religion.
The host of the summit, Dr Mahathir, 94, is known in the Muslim world for his strident defence in issues such as Palestine and Kashmir. His involvement with the trio of countries aligned against the Saudis raised chatter about a new Islamic bloc. On the other hand, there has been concern in the Muslim world at the relative silence of key Muslim leaders and the OIC over issues such as the plight of Uighur Muslims in China, Kashmir in India and Palestine statehood in the age of Donald Trump. Mahathir Mohamad said Muslim countries would not be subjected to forced assimilation and trade sanctions if they were self-reliant and work with other Muslims nations to ensure that any punitive measure imposed can be circumvented. “We are not rejecting investments from non-Muslim countries. But we feel Muslim countries so far have not invested enough in other Muslim countries who need their investments.
He said the conference was not aimed at replacing other Muslim platforms such the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), neither intending to create different categories or classes of Muslim nations nor to undermine others.
However, OIC secretary-general Yousef al-Othaimeen, in a thinly veiled attack against the summit, told Sky News Arabia on Wednesday: "It is not in the interest of an Islamic nation to hold summits and meetings outside the framework of the (OIC), especially at this time when the world is witnessing multiple conflicts."
Dr Mahathir answered a call from King Salman to discuss the summit's purpose. Mahathir told reporters about the call: "He feels that matters like these (Muslim issues) shouldn't just be discussed by two or three countries, and there should be an OIC meeting and I agreed with him."
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim, in a veiled criticism of Saudi Arabia, told the audience that respect needs to be maintained among countries, adding that justice is "indivisible". Turkish President Erdogan and Iran's President Rouhani spoke against the world's major powers and the failings of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
"The UN Security Council is not representative of the Muslim population and I believe it is way past its expiry date… The world is bigger than five," Mr Erdogan said, referring to the UNSC permanent chairs - the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom - which hold veto power. Turkey has tense ties with Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said "fratricidal wars, civil wars, failed governments and many other catastrophes" have plagued Muslims.
"Muslim countries are accused of authoritarianism and lack of concern for human rights," the Premier added, without naming countries. Highlighting that no single Muslim nation has garnered the status of a developed country despite immense wealth, and countries' inability to protect the Islamic community, Dr Mahathir says this summit is hoped to "spark a sense of purpose" to pursue tangible solutions.
“There were 1.8 billion Muslim population globally, representing almost a quarter of the total human population but Muslim countries lacked proportionate representation in all fields in the global platform.” “Some Muslim countries are very rich but the area that they can invest in Malaysia at the moment is quite limited. For example, we can have investments in the production of defence equipment from some Muslim countries,” “poor Muslim countries should be ready to accept an investment, especially if the investment come from Muslim countries.”
Meanwhile, he proposed to revisit the common trading currency for international trade backed by gold and barter trade among Muslim nations. “We are seriously looking into this and we hope that we will be able to find a mechanism to put it into effect,” he said, adding that meeting with central banks on this proposal would held later. “For as long as we are dependent on the technology created by the enemies of Islam, they will forever be able to circumvent, dictate and control our efforts to improve our technologies and defence system in particular,” he said.