Anwar's strident voice on Palestine hallmark of Malaysia's international relations
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's loud voice urging other nations to support Palestine and put an end to Israeli brutality is the hallmark of the country's international relations under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, according to analysts.
Several analysts applauded Anwar’s courage to speak up and bring Malaysia’s voice to the world stage in expressing solidarity with the Palestinians.
Anwar has been vocal and consistent in championing the Palestinian cause. On Sept 22, in his maiden national statement at the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister highlighted the 'flagrant hypocrisy' of the West in dealing with the issue of Palestine.
He called for a concerted multilateral effort spearheaded by the UN to resolve all conflicts and humanitarian crises in the world.
During the Asean-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh recently, the prime minister seized the opportunity to raise the Palestinian issue with many leaders of other countries, urging the international community to end the ongoing aggression against the Palestinians.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict took centre stage and was the main topic of discussions between Anwar and Crown Prince Mohammed Salman, who is Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister, during their four-eyed meeting after the summit.
Anwar also discussed the ongoing Gaza Strip conflict with Muslim World League secretary-general Dr Muhammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa in Riyadh, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo during his working visit to these countries.
Pacific Research Centre principal advisor of Malaysia Dr Oh Ei Sun said Anwar has aspired to be acknowledged as an advocate for the Muslim world at the forefront of championing the Palestine issue.
"As such, it is no surprise that Anwar proactively projects a pro-Palestinian stance both domestically and internationally. Domestically, the Palestinian plight is probably one of the few issues that could unite the Malay-dominated parties, and so Anwar must adroitly place himself at the forefront of this issue,” he told Bernama.
Asked whether Malaysia can expect repercussions from Western countries for championing the Palestinian cause, the senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs noted that most Western countries understand the domestic necessity for most Muslim-dominated governments or their leaders to project a more pro-Palestinian stance.
Therefore diplomatic relations between Malaysia and these countries are unlikely to be severely impacted, he said.
Associate Professor Dr Roy Anthony Rogers, deputy executive director of Asia Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya, said Anwar has been an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause since his early days in the Islamic Youth Movement Malaysia (ABIM) and has been very consistent in his stance.
He said it is a global crisis and Malaysia needs to use international and regional platforms such as ASEAN, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the UN to pursue this issue.
"Malaysia's foreign policy towards Palestine has been very consistent. Since the 1960s, Malaysia has been very supportive of the struggle of the Palestinian people.
"Malaysia is exercising its rights as a free and sovereign nation. Therefore no country including from the West can stop Malaysia from exercising its rights as a sovereign state,” he added.
Echoing similar sentiments, Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM) chairman Badereddin Seyam expressed appreciation for Anwar’s efforts, including his call for the international community to condemn the Israeli aggression, halt international support for the occupation and stop the war crimes in Gaza.
"The Malaysian prime minister promised to lead an international initiative at the regional and international levels, particularly during his visit to the Middle East, to immediately halt the aggression on Gaza and reject forced displacement.
"He is also committed to accelerating the operation of the humanitarian corridor to Gaza and delivering the necessary medical relief aid. We call on the Malaysian people to support the prime minister's actions,” he said.
Professor Datuk Mohamad Abu Bakar, former head of Universiti Malaya's International and Strategic Studies Department, said Anwar's stance could give impetus to an international movement to direct global attention to the Palestine issue, which the Western powers seem to be marginalising.
He said Malaysia's stand risks drawing a backlash but the country is just fulfilling a moral and diplomatic need to overcome a longstanding crisis.
"Malaysia's strident voice is a meaningful encouragement for other parties like ASEAN to adopt a similar stance on the turmoil in the Middle East. It is time for the pro-Palestine struggle to be made mainstream again in the current context,” he added. - BERNAMA