SAUDI Arabian King Salman Abdul Aziz Al-Saud’s inaugural four-day state visit to Malaysia on Feb 26 marked a significant achievement in relations between the two Muslim-majority nations. For the government of Malaysia, the visit resulted in top level investments in the private sector as well as valuable cooperation in defence against extremists.
For Saudi Arabia, the visit strengthened its role in the Muslim world as it continues to lead the 34-member nation coalition to reduce the influence of the Daesh (Islamic State).
However, the good feelings were not shared all around. For Malaysia’s opposition parties, King Salman’s visit turned into their version of ‘the boy who cried wolf.’
For too long, opposition parties have been selling the idea that Malaysia is a failed state and that the BN-led government is to blame. Their political product is crisis; one where they harp on anything that dissatisfies Malaysians to divert the blame onto the government. This has been their play.
Pointing at the government and accusing them for everything that’s wrong in Malaysia starts off popular. This strategy will get you those initial few thousand followers. But eventually, after you do it repetitively, people start questioning if you have anything else to offer.
The highly expected and carefully executed state visit provided for Malaysia a total of seven memoranda of understanding (MoUs) involving private sector investments valued at RM9.75 billion. The agreements will help fuel sectors such as energy, health, construction, education, small and medium industries and the halal sector.
The agreement that grabbed the most headlines was one involving Petronas and Saudi Aramco which totaled RM 31 billion, the largest investment made by a Saudi Arabian company into Malaysia.
The state visit resulted in a quota boost for Malaysian Muslims planning to perform their haj pilgrimage. Previously 27,900, the new quota is now 30,200.
In the area of defence, King Salman’s meeting with Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein resulted in an agreement to cooperate in military technology, specifically fighter jets and helicopters for the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Army Aviation Unit.
For the navy, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia agreed to set up joint trainings for sharing of expertise to improve the capability of both nation’s submarine operations. Amid the rise of the Daesh both in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia, the state of bilateral defence relations have never been stronger and there have been several milestones reached to ensure the safety of Malaysians.
The establishment of the King Salman Centre for International Peace within the next three months will also prove Malaysia and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to promote Islam as a religion of peace and moderation.
In the broader context, the King Salman Centre for International Peace will reinforce Malaysia’s continuous commitment with other governments to deal with the Islamic State. Previously, Malaysia agreed with the United States to form a Regional Counterterrorism Digital Communication Center in the Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counter-terrorism (SEARCCT).
At a time when so much is being done to ensure the security of our economy and our people, it is no surprise that the opposition’s ‘Malaysia is a failed state’ rhetoric falls on a rapidly decreasing number of ears.
The opposition point at the EPF and claim it is going bankrupt. They point at Tabung Haji and say it is out of money. All of this has been proven untrue.
In a way, the opposition have become victims of their own strategy. They have surrounded themselves in their own narrative that they fail to recognise the realities outside their silo.
Within these past few days, we received news that Jack Ma would launch Alibaba’s regional distribution hub in Malaysia. The 24,700 acre hub would be sited inside the KLIA Aeropolis and is expected to generate more than RM7 billion worth of domestic and foreign investments.
Economic milestones such as these make irrelevant the opposition’s labelling of Malaysia as a “failed state.”
And in their desperation, opposition leaders exposed themselves as having no substance. Just this week in parliament, DAP MP Teresa Kok accused Kuala Lumpur of being the “most unplanned city in the world.”
The following day in a debate, DAP MP Lim Lip Eng yelled at Tan Sri Annuar Musa and labeled the latter a 'pondan'. In the newly-renovated Parliament hall, Lim Lip Eng shouted “Pondan ah! Separuh jantan ah! Oi diamla! Eh pondan diam,” to get Tan Sri Annuar to sit down.
The opposition’s lack of substance had previously caught the attention of many even before King Salman’s visit. Last year, DAP’s Lim Guan Eng was criticised for using his Christmas day speech to again outline that Malaysia was a “failed state.”
While our leaders continue bringing foreign investment into Malaysia, while they ensure that we maintain an international network that will defeat extremism, while the government executes initiatives such as BR1M that tackle the cost of living and provides affordable housing, opposition leaders such as Lim Kit Siang and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad provide nothing except a call to ouster Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. What are their plans if they do win power? What will they do differently?
Moreover, opposition leaders provide incorrect facts on Malaysia to foreigners to the point that they risk sabotaging foreign investment. This was evident in the case with Saudi Arabia. They have become so narrowed in their goals of winning political power that they care not about the economic wellbeing of all of Malaysia.
Most devastating of all, the opposition’s rhetoric of defying and opposing anything and everything the government announces produces an environment where no one can agree on facts. And such circumstances make our communities polarised.
An opposition that leans on emotions rather than substance for political support. An opposition that favours blind hate towards the government rather than logical debate. It is no longer a doubt that Malaysia today has a failed opposition.
Khairul Azwan Harun is Umno Youth vice-chief and Umno Supreme Council member.