THE special ties between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia will only invite problems to the country, such as the possibility of Islamic State (IS) retaliation, an opposition lawmaker said following Putrajaya’s decision to give a 16ha piece of land in Putrajaya to Saudi Arabia.
Kuala Terengganu MP Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah said Malaysia should steer clear of any diplomatic row in the Middle East and take a neutral stance in Middle Eastern conflicts.
“Why do we want to give the privilege (to Saudi Arabia) to open a centre to combat terrorism in this region. We have several agencies to counter this issue (terrorism).
“Why do we need to invite Saudi Arabia that has many enemies? We know that Saudi Arabia is the sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East so why do we want to bring Middle Eastern problems to our country by opening up the King Salman Centre here?” he said in a press conference at Parliament today.
Raja Kamarul, who is Amanah’s international bureau chairman, was referring to the King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP), which currently operates in Kuala Lumpur.
Saudi Arabia’s controversial Crown Prince Mohammad Salman is expected to open the centre next year.
“We don’t want our involvement with Saudi Arabia make us the target of IS fighters as we know they are looking for new battleground,” he said.
Prime Minister Najib Razak in July said the construction of KSCIP in Putrajaya reflected the importance of the institution.
“King Salman could have chosen any other country to build the centre, but the custodian of the two holy mosques chose Malaysia,” he was quoted as saying.
Several quarters, including controversial Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) officer and preacher Zamihan Mat Zin had criticised the idea of asking the Saudi government to help fight terrorism in Southeast Asia, saying it was “unrealistic”.
Prominent Islamic scholar Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa has also criticised Putrajaya’s decision to give land to KSCIP, saying it “made little sense”.
Malaysia’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has improved during the Najib administration.
In April 2016, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said in Istanbul that the kingdom had deposited RM2.6 billion into Najib’s bank account. Adel said it was a donation from Saudi Arabia.