KL Summit 2019 Fails Spectacularly – Here’s Why A Desperate Mahathir Fails To Boost His Image

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Dec 23 2019
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What was the objective of the Kuala Lumpur Summit, which has just concluded? Its website says that it is an international platform for Muslim leaders, intellectuals and scholars from around the world to discuss and exchange ideas about the issues revolving in the Muslim world. The first Summit was actually held in 2014, in the same capital of Malaysia.


Naturally, the first question is what the summit has achieved since five years ago? The long and short answer is this – nothing! Coming from the horse’s mouth, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has admitted the weaknesses, failures and decline of Islamic governments worldwide. That’s a polite way to say the summit has failed spectacularly to change the Muslim world.


The Malaysian premier said – “We can accuse the non-Muslim world for being biased, and unjust in their assessments. But we cannot deny the facts that there are fratricidal wars in several Muslim countries, that many are beholden to the powerful non-Muslim nations. We cannot deny that we are largely dependent on the non-Muslims for most of our needs.”

Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 - Mahathir Mohamad

In other words, the summit, despite spending tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money, was nothing but a venue for some Muslim leaders and intellectuals to moan, whine and bitch about Muslim dignity. The participants would then rush for food as if they hadn’t eaten for a year, before continuing with their bitching again. After the summit ends, it’s back to business as usual.


Arguably, the KL Summit 2019 was supposed to be the last place for Mahathir to boost his image in the eyes of Malay-Muslims in the country. The controversial Malay Dignity Congress (MDC) had failed to rally Malay voters behind his political party PPBM (Bersatu), despite fiery attacks on ethnics Chinese and Indian – warning the minorities that their citizenship could be revoked.


The humiliating defeat of the Tanjung Piai by-election last month was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Not only Mahathir’s party failed to win Malay voters, his racial and religious extremism had angered more Chinese voters than he had anticipated. His party lost by over 15,000 votes – punished by both Malays and Chinese voters at the same time.

Tanjung Piai Johor - By Election Results

By now, Mahathir has nothing to lose. His party is expected to be wiped out in the next 15th general election. While the Chinese may still support the present ruling coalition, they would reject the old fox’s party, one of the four parties in the ruling coalition. Instead of boosting economy and promoting meritocracy and moderation, he plays too much racial and religious extremism.


Devastated but not giving up, the stubborn Mahathir bets his chips on the KL Summit to push his image as a champion in the Muslim world. At the very least, the 94-year-old premier hoped to grab headlines as the hero who manages to unite the Muslim leaders from around the world. But he was too irrelevant and Malaysia was too small a nation to be respected by the big boys.


To make matters worse, the world’s oldest prime minister has offended the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the de-facto leader of OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). It was so bad that Mahathir had to cancel a scheduled dialogue session as he was forced to hold an urgent video conference – explaining and clarifying to King Salman of Saudi Arabia about the KL Summit.

Saudi Arabia King Salman

Saudi was apparently upset that Malaysia tried to replace OIC as the ultimate platform to discuss Muslim issues. After a lengthy lecture by King Salman, who decided to boycott the KL Summit, the outspoken Mahathir humbly told the monarch that Malaysia was too small to take over the Saudi’s position as the leader of the Muslim world.


Mahathir’s ultimate dream was to have the leaders from 56 countries of the Islamic world attending the gathering. He will become the most respectable Muslim leader in the world. That, however, was a wishful thinking thanks to deeply divided Muslim world. At minimum, the summit hoped to bring together the leaders of Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Qatar.


But Mahathir had overestimated his credibility as a hero of global Muslim. The final guest list was a disaster. The biggest disappointment came when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan unexpectedly cancelled his trip at the eleventh hour. The Malaysian premier was incredibly dumbfounded. After all, the 3 musketeers – Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey – had agreed to combat Islamophobia together.

Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

When India announced its revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and placed the region under lockdown, Mahathir snatched the opportunity to spin and twist the situation – falsely accusing India of having “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir, and even lectured New Delhi to work with Pakistan to resolve the issue. And now PM Imran Khan had chickened out?


It’s not hard to understand why the Pakistan leader eventually “kowtow” to the oil-rich Saudi Arabia and skipped the KL Summit. In February, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman visited Islamabad and pledged US$20 billion in investments. Mahathir, despite his vocal stand on Kashmir in favour of Pakistan, was simply no match for US dollars. Clearly money talks, bullshit walks.


Initially, Mahathir dismissed reports that Imran Khan cancelled his trip due to pressure from Saudi. He lied. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed how Saudi pressured Pakistan to shun the KL Summit by threatening to send 4-million Pakistani workers back and replace them with Bangladeshi, and withdraw billions of dollars from the State Bank of Pakistan.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and President Jokowi

The biggest humiliation to Mahathir, however, was the cancellation from neighbouring Indonesia. President “Jokowi” Joko Widodo, already refused to attend the KL Summit, was supposed to send his deputy – Vice President Ma’ruf Amin – to Kuala Lumpur on his behalf. But even the deputy skipped the summit, claiming too exhausted to travel.


Interestingly, in early December, Mr. Amin said in an interview that he was not convinced whether the KL Summit will strengthen the OIC or form a new bloc that provides new values to strengthen and empower Islamic countries. In truth, during a bilateral meeting between President Jokowi and King Salman at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, the Saudi has promised an investment of US$6.7 billion.


Indonesia, which has embarked on a US$355 billion infrastructure drive under Widodo, was extremely desperate for investments from Saudi and its allies in the Middle East. With 225 million Muslims, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Failure to get even the deputy of President Jokowi to attend the KL Summit was indeed an embarrassment to Mahathir.

Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 - Qatar, Turkey and Iran Leaders

That left only Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim as the heavyweights who attended the summit. But those three leaders had their own personal agendas. Isolated and sanctioned by the Saudi and its allies since June 2017, Qatar obviously was more than happy to fly to Malaysia just to make a statement – it has other friends to play with.


Iran’s situation is worse than Qatar. Being sanctioned by Trump administration, Iran is like North Korea. Mahathir’s invitation for a free holiday to Kuala Lumpur was gladly accepted. President Rouhani’s goal was to use the KL Summit as the platform to attack the United Stsates. Speaking at the summit, he called Muslim countries to cooperate in fighting against U.S. “economic terrorism”.


The presence of Turkish President Erdogan was supposedly the ultimate victory for Mahathir. Turkey is the most powerful Muslim nation and has the second-largest military force in NATO. In fact, it was Turkey who had saved Qatar from being invaded by the Saudi during their diplomatic conflicts in June 2017. Erdogan used the KL Summit to attack everyone he didn’t like.

Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad and Turkish President Erdogan

From the UN Security Council to OIC, the Turkish president condemned all of them. It was not a secret that Erdogan wanted to take over the Saudi’s place as the leader of the Muslim world. Without Mahathir realising it, Saudi’s regional rivals – Iran, Qatar and Turkey – were using the gathering to establish a new Islamic bloc. And Malaysia got itself into the proxy war between Sunni and Shia Islam.


More importantly, Mahathir also wanted to use the summit to show off that Erdogan has a closer relationship with him than with premier-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim. However, in what appeared to be another slap on Mahathir’s face, Mr. Erdogan hosted a dinner for Mr. Anwar instead at the Turkish Embassy residence in Kuala Lumpur. Clearly, Erdogan has greater respect for Anwar than Mahathir.


It was definitely abnormal that Erdogan saw it fit to wine and dine with a premier-in-waiting but not with a sitting premier. Therefore, it’s not an exaggeration to suggest that Turkey acknowledges – even recognises – Anwar as the next prime minister. Mahathir’s sucking up to Erdogan during his official visit to Turkey in July has failed to swing the president’s support.

Turkish President Erdogan And PM-In-Waiting Anwar Ibrahim

Turkish President Erdogan Hosting A Dinner For Anwar Ibrahim

Heck, to convince the Muslim world that he was more Islamic than the Arab world, Mahathir had even invited hate preacher Zakir Naik to the summit. But the OIC, which has 57 members, launched a veiled attack on the event, arguing such gatherings would weaken Islam and divide the world’s 1.8-billion Muslims. The absence of Saudi, the birthplace of Islam, shows the divisions within the Muslim world.


To divert attention from the summit’s failure, Mahathir interfered in the internal affairs of India once again. The old man falsely labelled New Delhi’s newly passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as discrimination against Muslims. It actually provides a path to Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities fleeing persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.


Yet, the hypocrite Mahathir has been too afraid to discuss issues affecting Uighur Muslims in China or the butchering of more than 100,000 Yemeni people by Saudi Arabia. He claims the KL Summit was neither about politics nor religion. It’s quite hilarious how he decides that India has discriminated against Muslims and must be condemned, but not China or Saudi.

Mahathir Mohamad - Sad and Upset Facial Expression

Unlike the desperate Mahathir, Indonesian Jokowi saw it as a silly idea to offend the U.S., China, India, Myanmar, OIC and everyone just because of ego. While Malaysia locked horns with India over Kashmir and Muslims, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, where he was treated with highest honour.


From the beginning, the Kuala Lumpur gathering cannot claim to be representative of the wider Muslim world. The four nations make up just a fraction of the 57 states represented at the OIC. There was not a single African or Arab state apart from Qatar. But if the summit cannot speak on behalf of 1.8 billion Muslims, could Mahathir proclaim it as a success?


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By playing fire with race (Malay dignity conference) and religion (KL Summit 2019) cards, Dr M had failed miserably as a leader.

By constitution, we are a secular country – Dr M is supposed to be a leader BEYOND races and religion.

By championing the MDC and KL Summit 2019, it shows this leader has strong bias (if it’s not clear for you in the past decades already) and UNFIT for the harmony and unity of this country.

While i’m not sure if Anwar can do better – but i suppose, a person who has been jailed before, can’t be worse than the old fox who is clearly driving the country back into the UMNO style (cronyism & racism), now fortified with religion bias.

How can the world accuse China of banning Ramadan. Surely, the world can see from this international Islam summit that there was indeed the practise of Ramadan. How else to explain the mad rush for food. They must still be as hungry as all the other attendees since Ramadan was not long ago.

Why Dr M blame India issue citizenship to non muslim only? He must have forgotten that in Sabah, he issued IC to muslim only.

Though our (Pakistani) Prime Minister (Imran Khan) did not participated in the KL Summit; still majority of the Pakistanis have appreciated the efforts of Malaysian PM and Turkish President. Dr. Mahatir and Erdogan are more popular in Pakistan than our own PM.

We (Pakistanis) appreciated this joint effort of turk president Erdogan, Malaysian pm Dr Mahatir. We are with them regardless of absence of our PM (Imran Khan) from this historical summit which lead Muslim world to strong union independent of any foriegn pressure .

Hi, the KL Summit might not succeed, but it seems important for Muslim countries to address their shortcomings objectively and constructively, in a way that improves the lives of the people who live in Muslim countries. The OIC seems largely ineffective.

Also, Islam has spread far and wide beyond Arab countries; I’m not sure why Saudi Arabia thinks it holds a privileged position in trying to address issues of concern to Muslim nations.

Anyway, change takes time and patience. I wish future KL Summits well and hope they make a difference over time.

For the life of me, i cannot comprehend what’s your motive of defending india’s heinous treatment of muslims in the lockdown of Kashmir and its clearly blatant discriminatory citizenship law, with the sinister subsequent consequences of eventually ousting muslims from India.

Why do you think millions of indians are protesting in the streets for? Is it for childs play???

What’s with you repeatedly going all speaking up for indian atrocities to the point of almost sounding like you are working for modi as his PR front man. In other articles, you repeat the same indian mantra again !!!

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