World Islamic Economic Forum

Najib makes call to reject foreign intervention

The 12th World Islamic Economic Forum kicked off in Jakarta yesterday. Datuk Seri Najib, who is patron of the forum, was addressing 2,500 business leaders, officials, and academics from 69 countries at the three-day event.
The 12th World Islamic Economic Forum kicked off in Jakarta yesterday. Datuk Seri Najib, who is patron of the forum, was addressing 2,500 business leaders, officials, and academics from 69 countries at the three-day event. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Malaysian PM's choice of topic thought to be a response to his critics back home

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has urged Muslim leaders to reject foreign intervention and those who want foreign powers to intervene in their own country.

In his opening remarks at the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum, Datuk Seri Najib said foreign intervention in Muslim countries has led to "intended and unintended consequences", such as chaos and destruction in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and the possible break-up of these nation states.

By comparison, other Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, which are not subjected to foreign intervention, have remained "oases of peace and stability", he added.

"We have seen the devastating results of foreign intervention in the Muslim world, often based on incomplete, wrong or partisan information. We must make clear that we reject it," he said.

Mr Najib, who is patron of the forum, was addressing 2,500 business leaders, officials, and academics from 69 countries at the three-day event, which kicked off yesterday in Jakarta.

The forum aims to provide them with a platform to discuss opportunities for business partnerships in areas including Islamic syariah finance, Islamic tourism and the halal food industry.

Mr Najib did not explain why he chose to touch on the topic of foreign intervention in his speech.

But it is thought that he was responding to his critics in Malaysia, including ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who have called for foreign governments to name and shame Mr Najib in their investigations into the scandal involving troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Mr Najib said while leaders must work to resolve their problems and issues together, they must also insist on respect for their own sovereignty, laws and democratically elected governments.

He also called on Muslim-majority countries to condemn the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying the group has blasphemed against Islam.

Several other world leaders, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo, spoke at the conference.

Mr Joko spoke of the potential of syariah finance, a multi-trillion-dollar global industry, as well as opportunities for Islamic businesses in fashion, food, architecture and the arts which are growing rapidly.

But he warned Muslim societies of "huge challenges" such as high unemployment, especially among the youth.

"In many societies, we are... unable to integrate well with others. We are not yet as powerful in media, in social media, in technology.

"Therefore, we are not winning the battle for perception and if we do not educate our people, if we do not train our people, the world will leave us behind," he added.

Former World Bank managing director Sri Mulyani Indrawati also made her first public address as the country's finance minister yesterday. The 53-year-old returned to Indonesia last week to drive Mr Joko's economic reform agenda under his recently reshuffled Cabinet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Najib makes call to reject foreign intervention'. Print Edition | Subscribe