Reviving Saudi peace centre not a priority, says Hishammuddin

Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein speaks during a press conference at Wisma Putra in Putrajaya.

PUTRAJAYA: Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says reviving the Saudi-backed King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) is not a priority at this point in time.

Speaking at a press conference at Wisma Putra here today, he said the government’s priority now was the Covid-19 pandemic rather than terrorism.

In August 2018, the Pakatan Harapan-led administration closed the KSCIP with then-defence minister Mohamad Sabu saying its role would be absorbed into the Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security.

The KSCIP was proposed following a visit by Saudi monarch Salman Abdul Aziz to Malaysia in 2017, with the Barisan Nasional administration agreeing to allocate a massive plot of land for it in Putrajaya.

“This is a security matter, so I hope if our relations (with Saudi Arabia) are back on track, it can be discussed at a higher level, at the prime minister’s level,” Hishammuddin said.

“I believe whatever the decision, it must be based on our national interests.”

When the centre was proposed in 2017, he said, there had been an urgency about the matter given the prevalence of terrorist incidents.

But right now, he added, the priority was less on terrorism and more on Covid-19.

He also revealed that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Farhan Al Saudi would be visiting Malaysia next Thursday.

“He is coming to ensure the return of good relations between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and to meet me.”