Najib to attend OIC meet, postpone leaders' retreat in Singapore

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak is attending a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Turkey to discuss the United States' move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak is attending a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Turkey to discuss the United States' move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak is attending a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Turkey this week, to discuss the United States' move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The extraordinary leaders' summit on Wednesday, convened by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has led Datuk Seri Najib to postpone the annual leaders' retreat in Singapore, the Malaysian leader said in a speech at the close of Umno's general assembly yesterday. "I will be at OIC in Istanbul on Dec 13. President Erdogan called me and asked me to attend. He said Malaysia's voice is important," Mr Najib said.

"Coincidentally, I have an annual consultation with Singapore's Prime Minister. I called (PM Lee) Hsien Loong and said 'please understand this affects my faith as a Muslim and the faith of all Muslims'."

Singapore's Foreign Ministry confirmed that the 8th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat had been postponed at Mr Najib's request.

"Both sides will fix a new date for the Retreat," the ministry added.

At the last leaders' retreat in Putrajaya in December 2016, Singapore and Malaysia signed a historic agreement to construct a high-speed rail line that is slated to start by Dec 31, 2026.

The rail line between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, first mooted in 2013, will be 350km long and have eight stations in total.

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in an earlier speech yesterday at the same Umno meeting, said Mr Najib - who is Umno's president - will attend the meeting in Turkey to represent not only the voice of Malaysians but also Umno in objecting to the US move.

Mr Najib, asked by reporters later if what Malaysia is doing could affect bilateral ties with the US, said: "We can work together in other fields, but when it comes to this issue, we hold dear to our principles.

"We cannot accept (the US move) as it goes against what has been determined by the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

"This will complicate the two-state solution and it will also cause strains which could lead to serious bloodshed if it's not contained."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 10, 2017, with the headline 'Najib to attend OIC meet, postpone leaders' retreat in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe