Muslim leaders push ahead with KL Summit

We are attempting to start small…then we hope to take it up to the larger platform for consideration, says Dr Mahathir


THE heads of state of Malaysia, Iran, Turkey and Qatar pushed ahead with their agenda at the Kuala Lumpur (KL) Summit yesterday and spoke unanimously on the challenges faced by Muslim-led states despite continued criticism from its detractors.

In the lead-up towards the event, it was reported that delegates from several other countries had opted out from the gathering, limiting the number of participating countries to only about a third of the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) invited.

This came on the back of OIC secretary general Dr Yousef Ahmed al-Othaimeen’s statement via Saudi Arabia’s state news agency on Wednesday which criticised the summit in KL. Pakistan Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan earlier backed out from the event, fuelling speculation of interference from Riyadh.

Indonesia’s VP Ma’ruf Amin pulled out his participation from the summit, citing health issues.

The world’s largest Muslim country is represented by its Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has since denied the claim, but made it clear in his welcoming address that the summit’s selective guest list is not intended to discriminate or isolate any nation.

“We are attempting to start small and if these ideas, proposals and solutions are acceptable and proved workable, then we hope to take it up to the larger platform for consideration,” he said.

“We pray that through this summit, we will go a little way forward towards solving our problems,” he said.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, who officiated the ceremony, said in his royal address that the attendance by the leaders and delegates reflects a collective commitment to bring prosperity to all.

“I am not going to pretend that the challenges facing us today are easy to solve. It is a daunting task which requires major undertakings by all of us. However, I believe this should not hinder us from our noble goal of achieving unity,” the Agong said.

Leaders from all four countries identified poverty, racism and lack of sovereignty as primary hurdles of development which can be addressed through greater cooperation.

Iranian President Dr Hassan Rouhani impressed the assembly with his idea of creating a joint market in digital economy and the conception of a common cryptocurrency used by Muslim states.

Rouhani said Muslim countries can also learn from the Iranian model in overcoming national economic challenges. Over the last three decades, Iran has managed to overcome various threats including terrorism and sanctions from the US — making it a model of resilience, he said.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (picture) in his address called for collaboration in the areas of defence, technology and finance as focus for solidarity.

Highlighting the importance of sovereignty, Erdogan took a swipe at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), calling it irrelevant in speaking against injustices committed against the Muslims, particularly in Palestine.

“The UNSC does not represent 1.75 billion Muslims. The security council is also way past beyond its expiry date, it must be revived and revised,” he said.

On sovereignty, Qatar’s ruling Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad al-Thani said the identity of Muslim nations must be defended.

“We are very proud of our civilisation and values that have no contradiction to development or the principles of justice.”