PETALING JAYA: Former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the government’s decision to close the Saudi-backed King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) was a loss to Malaysia.
“It is a loss to the government and to the nation,” he said in a statement today.
“Malaysia’s contribution to global peace and security would have been invaluable,” he added.
He added that he would personally fight violent extremism and terrorism, including working with Saudi Arabia.
Yesterday, Hishammuddin’s successor in the ministry, Mohamad Sabu announced the closure of the centre with immediate effect.
He said the centre’s role would be absorbed into the Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security, which comes under the Ministry of Defence.
Critics said Saudi Arabia was not qualified to lead such a centre in view of its official doctrine of Wahhabism which they blamed for inspiring the Islamic State ideology.
KSCIP was proposed after the official visit by Saudi’s King Salman Abdul Aziz to Malaysia last year.
The then Barisan Nasional government allocated a massive plot of land in Putrajaya to set up the facility.
Hishammuddin said KSCIP would position Malaysia as a strategic nation to jointly combat terrorism on the ideological front together with Saudi Arabia.
“Violent extremism is increasingly undermining global security, especially in the Muslim world. This problem, because of its borderless nature, requires cooperation and coordination among nations.
“Through the centre, Malaysia would have been at the forefront of the fight against narratives and ideologies that drive violent extremism, a fight Malaysia is uniquely qualified to take on.
But Hishammuddin said it was better for the government to shut down the centre now rather than after making serious commitments.
He said other nations, especially those facing this threat, would most probably take on the opportunity and set up a similar centre with Saudi Arabia and other willing countries.