By Sharifah Munirah Alatas, New Age Islam
December 31, 2019
The recently concluded Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 has annoyed and exasperated many Malaysians. They feel Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s misplaced loyalty for the plight of 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide is incongruent with the socio-political and economic difficulties Malaysians have been enduring, post-GE14.
Their biggest grouse is that our national identity is shaped by more than the 61% (17 million) of Malay/Muslim citizens. They feel it is the moral and political responsibility of Mahathir and PH to represent all Malaysians.
There are 39% non-Muslims who contribute extensively to the progress and development of the nation. These productive Malaysians resent the insinuation from some quarters, that they “can leave if they are not happy”. These suggestions are morally repugnant and constitutionally unacceptable.
However, if we are to assess these narratives by global benchmarks, Malaysia is definitely trendy.
Neither mono ethnic nor mono religious, Malaysia, along with other headline-grabbing big powers, have boarded the gravy train of conservatism.
For Malaysia, however, such trendy orientations will backfire. Unless we hone down on our bread and butter issues, as well as the quality of our basic education system, our pursuit of global trends will signal our demise as a credible global player.
Furthermore, the persistent internal bickering within PH, an uncertain succession plan and the immature manner in dealing with inter-party dissent are contributing to the laughable state of our politics.
The KL Summit’s call for Muslim unity is not seen as a respectable appeal for all Malaysians. There is cynicism at home about how inclusive our own political and religious leadership is, for swathes of Malaysian minorities, including the Orang Asal and other indigenous groups.
But was the summit an utter waste of time and other resources?
A key development of the KL Summit was the exposure of the myth surrounding the purity of the House of Saud.
Malaysia’s general population was finally exposed to the incredulous and cynical manipulation by the Khadim al-Haramayn as-Sharifayn (Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques).
Saudi Arabia, despite the propaganda of their embarking on domestic social reforms, are still indignant in intimidating fellow Muslim nations.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s eleventh hour withdrawal from the Summit demonstrates such oppression. Ironically, thanks to this, Saudi Arabia’s dirty laundry has surfaced in the Malaysian psyche.
A barrage of news reports, social media posts, and radio and TV interviews focused on the high hand of Saudi Arabia’s interference in the KL Summit. Reports have criticised the Saudi leadership’s egotistical and self-appointed superiority over the Ummah.
Until recently, criticism of Saudi Arabia has been largely academic, highlighting the subtle and unwelcome infiltration of Wahhabi and Salafi ideology into Malaysian society.
It has also been directed specifically at two areas of political discourse, our education system and the administration of Islam in our states.
Coupled with former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s overflowing personal bank accounts, the public is now aware of how the House of Saud managed to shame our elder head of state. Their despicable gaul to arrogantly dismiss the KL Summit as an OIC alternative should enrage the ordinary Malaysian.
There is no excuse to be ignorant of how Saudi Arabia manipulates the foreign and domestic policies of other Muslim nations, including Malaysia. It is about time Malaysian Muslims see the Saudi leadership for what it is—manipulative scoundrels who will do anything to keep themselves in power, pander to US and other western power whims, through the petrodollar system.
At the same time, they ignore the atrocities facing millions of fellow Muslims in Yemen, Palestine and Xinjiang.
Malaysian leadership and the public should waver their support for the kingdom. Boosting Saudi Arabia’s economy through a second pilgrimage (Hajj or Umrah) for instance, should now be seen as an act of sin, rather than reaping brownie points.
Many narrow-minded Malaysian Muslims will justify Saudi’s abstinence. They say it is a protest against the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
However, the very fact that the leader of an advanced and dignified Shia nation graced Mahathir’s majority “Sunni” assembly, speaks volumes about the potential for unity within the ummah.
Saudi Arabia’s snub of the KL Summit demonstrates its intolerance for Iran and the Shias. Rouhani’s excellent speech highlighted global economic terrorism. It was in tandem with Mahathir’s own contempt for economic imperialism and sanctions by big powers.
Rouhani and Mahathir are obviously on the same page.
The sole achievement of the KL Summit has been the resurrection of the ideas of the 2004 Amman Message. It reignited the ideological essence of unity and cooperation.
Exclusive Malaysian Sunni chauvinists should see it as a progressive step towards future Sunni-Shia dialogues that will expose shared threats facing all Muslims.
A key takeaway of the KL Summit should also be to acknowledge Saudi Arabia’s crooked, slavish and selfish intentions.
Dr Sharifah Munirah Alatas is an academic specialising in geopolitics with a special interest in socio-political issues of developing nations.
Courtesy: Sharifah Munirah Alatas
Original Headline: KL Summit, A Story Of Cynicism And Success