Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad has defended the Kuala Lumpur summit which was shunned by Saudi Arabia and admonished for weakening the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
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Earlier, Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan had pulled out of the summit due to concerns by Saudi Arabia that the meeting could create a new bloc that would rival the existing 57-member state Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), its headquarters in Riyadh.
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In welcoming remarks, Mahathir said the Kuala Lumpur Summit was meant to comprehend why Islam, the Muslims countries were “in a state of crisis, helpless and unworthy of this great religion”.
It was unclear to what extent the leaders would discuss major geopolitical crises afflicting the Muslim world, ranging from the age-old disputes in the Middle East and Kashmir to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, through to the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the alleged persecution of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
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Mahathir said the summit should address the world’s perceptions of Islam, the rise of Islamophobia, the decline of the Islamic civilisation and reforms in governance needed by Muslim nations. “We are not discriminating or isolating anyone,” he said in his welcome speech, watched on by leaders including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al-Thani.
Meanwhile, five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were sealed at the Kuala Lumpur Summit which covered the aspects of youth exchange, food security, media collaboration, defence and security.
Among the documents exchanged were for the “Work4Malaysia” programme, an initiative by Turkish consultancy firm, Mental HR Consultancy, that provides opportunities to capable Malaysian talents to undergo training and secure jobs in various sectors in Turkey, and a partnership between agriculture-based firm Baladna of Qatar and Felcra Bhd on a large-scale dairy venture.
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Three parties inked a deal to set up a centre of excellence dedicated to research in scientific exploration and high technology, namely Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), LIPI of Indonesia, International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences of Pakistan and the Scientific Research Council of Turkey.
In defence and security, Composites Technology Research Malaysia Sdn Bhd (CTRM) and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) also exchanged documents to pave the way for future development in the area of research and new technology as well as human capital.
The Malaysian and Turkish governments’ media organisations also agreed to establish a communication centre to address Islamophobia issues around the world. The exchange of the documents was witnessed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Both Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad and Turkish President Erdogan have been disappointed by the OIC’s past record and failure to take firm action in support of Muslim causes. Without mentioning the OIC by name, Erdogan said the biggest problem that platforms bringing the Islamic world together faced was a lack of implementation.