KUALA LUMPUR: The government should start engaging with non-state actors in the country on foreign policies, and establish a parliamentarian committee on foreign issues, said former ambassador and G25 member Redzuan Kushairi.
The former deputy permanent representative at the Malaysian Mission to the United Nations was commenting on Malaysia’s decision to allocate a land to Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism.
“The government needs to engage with non-state actors such as academics, civil right groups and those with knowledge in this field. That’s what is missing in our country today. There is no engagement by the government on foreign policy.
“I also think there needs to be a parliamentarian committee on foreign policy. The world has changed and we need to change our perspective too. Other countries have this body that can consult the government on its foreign policy stand,” he told Berita Daily.
Redzuan who was the special assistant to two former foreign ministers, Ghazali Shafie and Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen, then questioned the government’s stand on moderation.
“What happened to our own quality of moderation? One of the basic considerations on how to combat terrorism is moderation. We should adopt the approach and ask ourselves a question, is Saudi Arabia on the right path of moderation?
“It is time for the government to recognise civil groups and engage with them on foreign policies. Academics too can play a vital role in advising the government on this matter,” he said.
Muslim reformist Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa told The Malaysian Insight on Monday that Putrajaya’s decision to allot land to Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism makes little sense.
This, he said, was because research has revealed that Saudi Arabia was the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today.
Farouk, who heads the think tank Islamic Renaissance Front, said Saudi Arabia’s track record in combating terrorism was wanting.
“To me personally, this action by the government made little sense, if there is any at all.
“Researchers have pointed out that Saudi Arabia is without doubt, the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. And the Saudi ideology remains the source of most radical Islamic extremism,” Farouk said.
Making no sense
Another G25 member Tawfik Ismail said that the reason behind the government’s decision to allocate the land to Saudi Arabia was unclear.
Echoing Farouk and Redzuan’s sentiment, Tawfik said that there needs to be a dialogue between the government and all relevant parties in order to find a way to curb terrorism.
“I have read the statement from Farouk, and I am also baffled as to why the government decided to give the land to Saudi Arabia.
“It does not make sense at all as Farouk pointed out. There should be a dialogue and the government should engage with all relevant parties.
“We have ex-soldiers, ex-policemen and ex-diplomats with experience and knowledge in anti-terror matter. Why is the government thinking that Saudi is the best body to help combat terror, the reason is unclear,” he said.
Meanwhile academic Dr Maszlee Malik opined that the collaboration between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia as a positive effort to curb terrorism but stated that Malaysia must have a broader framework.
The International Islamic University Malaysia lecturer said that the focus must not only be targeted at Daesh (IS) militants but also at any sorts of extremism from other ideologies and religions.
“The current collaboration between Malaysian government and Saudi is another positive effort taken by the government in fighting terrorism. However Malaysian government must have a broader framework, by not missing the bigger picture in dealing with the issue.
“Malaysia, both government and citizens, must work inclusively with everybody to fight the global terrorism phenomenon. It’s not only the issue of Daesh and the like, but also any sorts of terrorism and violence extremism from other ideologies and religions, including those perpetuated by states and those in power.
“In dealing with them, a comprehensive and holistic approach must be taken by all parties involve,” said Maszlee.
In July, PM Najib Razak announced that construction of the King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) on a 16ha or 40 acres of land in Putrajaya.
KSCIP currently operates from Kuala Lumpur, and the government has been given two years to build the new centre, which is a brainchild of King Salman. It is aimed at deflecting the influence of extremism and terrorist activities, as well as promoting universal peace.
Najib said the decision was made after a discussion with the assistants to Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed Salman who visited Malaysia in July.