KUALA LUMPUR: Although there has been much talk about the King Salman Center for International Peace (KSCIP) – to be set up by Malaysia and Saudi Arabia – details are scarce on what its functions will be.
But, a report in the Diplomat suggested, it was a boon for Prime Minister Najib Razak who was using it to garner support among Muslims for the next general election.
The report today said although leaders of the two nations and the media in both nations had painted an ambitious agenda for the KSCIP, there was little about what the centre would actually do and how it would go about accomplishing it.
It said when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud visited Malaysia in March, one of the key deliverables was the agreement to establish a new international centre designed to counter radical ideologies and promote Islam as a religion of peace and moderation.
It is being undertaken with the collaboration of the two defense ministries, the Islamic Science University of Malaysia (USIM), and the Muslim World League.
The Diplomat noted that if successfully set up, this centre would be the latest in a string of new institutions Malaysia has been setting up amid the rising challenge of the Islamic State and Islamic terrorism.
In collaboration with the US, Malaysia has already set up the Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counter-terrorism. The police have also set up a new Counter Messaging Center.
The KSCIP is expected to begin operations on a 9.7-hectare site at USIM in late June.
The Diplomat noted that even on Saturday, when Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Muslim World League secretary-general Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Isa held a joint press conference, they did not disclose new specifics.
The report said, with the general election likely to be held this year, Najib was using the establishment of the centre to court Malay voters.
Najib, it added, was “advertising the legitimacy conferred upon his government by the leader of Saudi Arabia”, where the two holiest mosques in Islam are located – in Mecca and Medina.
The Diplomat noted that at a rally on Sunday, Najib invoked the centre as an illustration of his party’s commitment to Islam.
“If people say Umno’s policies are contrary to Islam, for sure, the King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, would not allow his name to be used at the King Salman Centre for Global Peace,” Najib was quoted as saying.
The report said that it was clear both nations were prioritising this project.