The Kuala Lumpur Summit could be same old, same old

There is a need to focus on tangible actions that can unite the Muslim world as an Alliance of Muslim Nations.

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Published by Malay Mail, Sin Chew, & Malaysiakini, image from Malaysiakini.

If the Kuala Lumpur Summit is a minimum or ad hoc version of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), an event summoned immediately due to extra ordinary circumstances affecting the Muslim world, the organisers have unwittingly enhanced the “Muafakat National” of Umno of PAS.

These two entities have nothing to contribute to national and international issues except to prey on the religious and racial sentiments of the Malays and Muslims, by extension, the Islamic world.

Thus what is ostensibly a summit to augment the geopolilitical standing of Pakatan Harapan on “Islamic” issues have, ironically, and paradoxically, given “Muafakat Nasional” a second and third leash of life. Empowering the opposition is indeed a noble idea in a democracy. As all democracies do need an alternative challenger to serve as a check and balance. But “Muafakat Nasional” in Malaysia is wrongly guided to manipulate the views of Malays and Muslims. They don’t need any “assist” if at all. If anything, they need an immediate “put down” intellectually.

With global Muslim leaders converging in Kuala Lumpur from December 17-18, such as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vice President of Indonesian Amir Maaruf Amin, and Sheikh Amir Al Hamad Al Thamrin of Qatar, not excluding Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan too, it seems like a strategic event too.

But if Kuala Lumpur Summit were to become an effective amplifier of all the issues of war, peace and Islamphobia  that affect the Muslim world, more thoughts have to be given to ensure their agenda are not hijacked by wrong nationalist-religious groups. Thus there is a need to focus on tangible actions that can unite the Muslim world as an Alliance of Muslim Nations rather than mere public relation choreography.

Top Muslim and non Mulsim scholars such as Professor Cemil Aydin, with a PhD in Middle Eastern and Japanese Studies from Harvard University, who is now based at University of North Carolina, should be given a listen; as is Professor Ho Eng Seng, a world class expert on Yemini issues, who interestingly hails from Malaysia. The list could include Professor John Esposito at Georgetown University and Professor Fawaz Gerwez, at the London School of Economics as well, all of whom have devoted their academic lives to understanding the weaknesses of the Muslim world. Even Professor KS Jomo, a former member of the Council of Eminent Persons, who has written on Islamic revivalism in the 1980s before, should be kept in, rather than left out completely. A summit is as good as the “mind melt” that comes during and after the meeting, not the mere completion of the stand alone event; which makes it a one-off catharsis.

KL Summit, as this is written, also seems to ignore the lessons accumulated at the Alliance of Civilizations (AoC) at the United Nations. AoC was pioneered by Spain and Turkey between 2002-2015. A co-sponsor of KL Summit would have to be found in the future. Although one would hope that President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, would also revive the importance of the “Dialogue of Civilizations”, once pioneered by his predecessor President Ali Khameni too; which again can come under the Kuala Lumpur Summit. Indeed, the Muslim World, if KL Summit is supposed to be a microcosm of it, is commercially lacked the right depth to talk to each other bilaterally or multilaterally. If the high dialogue is confined to Malaysia, Indonesia, Qatar, Iran and Pakistan, to make the Muslim world more dynamic, all round trade must still be emphasised first to ensure high quality interaction.

Yet, none of the five countries above trade widely. And if Iran is brought into the picture, one is confronted with the international sanctions, with which it still faces — putting a kink into the whole process of the KL Summit. Indeed, as recent as a month ago, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed confesses that Iranians living in Malaysia are now pressured by external forces not to have the basic privilege of even having a credit card or bank account in the country. Such sanctions confront any Muslim or non Muslim countries that want to trade with Iran.

Can Kuala Lumpur Summit address such a complex issue across the Mulsim world? One would have to assume in the negative right now, as the list of attendants in the Kuala Lumpur Summit did not include anyone from United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, let alone the Kingdom of Oman, especially representatives who can speak on behalf of Sultan Al Qaboos. The latter has done an excellent job of balancing the Sunni-Shia rivalry despite being caught in the middle of the Sunni-Shia quagmire.

Kuala Lumpur Summit seems to have included Rachid Al Ghanouchi, who believes in the concept of a “Muslim Democrat,” in the Ummah — not unlike the noticeable absentees Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or Tan Sri Muyiddin Yassin of Malaysia. But the very inclusion of Rachid Ghanouchi of En Nahdah Party in Tunisia also clashes with President Mohammed El Sissi of Egypt.

Therefore, the key is not to stage the whole summit into a diplomatic theatric without further forethought in future. Otherwise,  the whiplash effect can be another “Maruah Melayu,” which alienated non Muslims in Malaysia. The latter felt completely left out from the whole event if not insulted since a majority of Muslims had backed Pakatan Harapan to be in office.

As things are, the Kuala Lumpur Summit appears to be an event that seeks to strengthen the relationship of Malaysia, Indonesia, Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, not excluding some central republics such as Turkemenistan, where Petronas wants to consolidate its commercial relationship in oil and gas exploration. But nothing more but talk and more talk will emerge if Kuala Lumpur Summit does not first acknowledge that trade between and within Muslim countries remain low.

This would then be a rehash of the problems of the Muslim world and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since 1967.

As of today, the entire Muslim world only contributes 5 per cent to the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the whole world. If one removes oil and gas from the trade matrix, the numerical figure will go down to as low as less than 3 per cent.

Kuala Lumpur Summit may try to be the the Helsinki of Asia, as the late Tan Sri Nordin Sopiee at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) once called it, but it must be genuine, and not staged just for the sake of staging it. In sum, if Kuala Lumpur Summit can point to a direction to trade more and fight less, especially in fields and sectors that are not in the sunset industries, the event would have been a pivotal success.

One shall have to see how the organiser of the Kuala Lumpur Summit, which is the Malaysian government, avoid the trappings of previous failures. Not forgetting, even Helsinki itself has been eclipsed by the great power rivalry of Russia and The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato).

One wonders if the organiser of the Kuala Lumpur Summit would in future understand, not merely the complexities of the Muslim world alone, but in relation to the non-Muslim community too.

At the very least, the Kuala Lumpur Summit must be able to talk about the problem of Uyghur Muslims in China, Rohingya refugees trapped in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, and the growth of Hindu nationalistic fascism in India. It is a long list and a tall order. Kuala Lumpur Summit, as all summits dictate, must come up with real solutions not lofty rhetoric anymore. Perhaps, KL Summit may surprise all by coming out with resolutions that are pragmatic and workable solutions. You will never know. But as it stays now, it looks more like a gathering for an end of the year party amongst few selected friends!

Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

中文

刊登在:星洲网 (Sin Chew)

如果吉隆坡峰会是伊斯兰合作组织(OIC)的小型或即兴版本,这场临时举办的活动是由于有特别事件影响穆斯林世界,而主办单位在不经意间增强了巫统和伊党的“全民共识”。

这两个实体除了助长马来人和穆斯林,进而延伸到伊斯兰世界的宗教和种族情感之外,对国家和国际问题没有任何贡献。

因此这场旨在加强希盟在伊斯兰课题上的地缘政治立场的活动,非常讽刺,并矛盾地,赋予了“全民共识”第二和第三重束缚。在民主制度中,赋权反对党确实是一个崇高的主意。正如所有民主国家一样需要替代的挑战者来制衡。但大马的“全民共识“被错用来操纵马来人和穆斯林的观点。他们根本不需要任何”协助“。如有的话,他们需要立即将智力“放下”。

从12月17日至18日,全球穆斯林领袖聚集在吉隆坡,例如土耳其总统埃尔多安、印尼副总统马鲁夫、以及卡塔尔国王塔米姆,还有巴基斯坦总理伊姆兰,这似乎是一个具有战略意义的活动。

但如果要让吉隆坡峰会成为影响穆斯林世界的所有战争、和平与伊斯兰恐惧症的有效扩音器,就必须考虑更多以确保其议程不会被错误的民族宗教主义团体劫持。因此,有必要将重点放在能够让穆斯林世界团结陈一个穆斯林国家联盟,而不是纯粹公共关系的舞台表演。

顶尖穆斯林和非穆斯林学者,例如现在在北卡罗来纳大学任教,拥有哈佛大学中东和日本研究博士学位的卡米尔(Cemil Aydin)教授,应该来听一听;世界著名的也门问题专家Ho Eng Seng教授,有趣的是他也来自大马。名单也可以包括乔治城大学的约翰伊斯波西多(John Esposito)教授,以及伦敦经济学院的Fawaz Gerwez教授,他们全都致力于研究穆斯林世界的缺点。甚至是佐摩教授,前精英顾问团成员,曾在1980年代发表关于穆斯林复兴主义著作,也应该受邀,而不是完全排除在外。好的峰会在会议进行期间和之后会让人“思想撞击”,而不仅是完成独立的活动;这让其成为一次性的情感宣泄。

吉隆坡峰会,在我撰写本文时,似乎也无视联合国文明间联盟(AoC)所汲取的教训。该联盟在2002年至2015年间由西班牙和土耳其首创。将来吉隆坡峰会势必要找到共同发起人。虽然有人希望伊朗总统哈桑可以担此重任,对重启“文明对话”有着重大意义,而这也是前任总统哈梅内伊率先提出的;这些都可以在吉隆坡峰会中讨论。实际上,对穆斯林世界而言,如果吉隆坡峰会只是其中一个缩影,那么在贸易上就缺乏进行双边或多边对话的正确深度。如果领袖对话仅限于大马、印尼、卡塔尔、伊朗和巴基斯坦,以让穆斯林世界更加有活力,那么就必须首先强调全方位贸易以确保高质量的互动。

然而,上述5个国家中没有一个进行广泛地贸易。如果把仍然面临国际制裁的伊朗纳入,那就冒着面临国际制裁的风险——而这将让吉隆坡峰会陷入困境。实际上,就在一个月前,首相敦马哈迪承认,居住在大马的伊朗人如今受到外来力量的压力,甚至在我国无法拥有信用卡或银行账户的基本权利。这类制裁针对任何想要与伊朗进行贸易的穆斯林或非穆斯林国家。

吉隆坡峰会能否解决整个穆斯林世界中如此复杂的问题?现在,人们必须假设会出现这些负面因素,因为吉隆坡峰会的出席名单没有包括阿联酋或阿拉伯国家的任何人,更别说是阿曼王国了,尤其是那些可以代表苏丹卡布斯说话的代表。尽管后者陷入逊尼派和什叶派的纷争,却在平衡这两者之间的对立上做的非常出色。

吉隆坡峰会似乎邀请了加努希(Rachid Al Ghanouchi),他是相信“穆斯林民主”概念的穆斯林领袖——与明显缺席的安华或慕尤丁不同。但是,邀请来自突尼斯复兴党的加努希却与埃及总统塞西有所冲突。

因此,关键是不要在没有进一步预见未来的情况下将整个峰会变成外交舞台。否则,长鞭效应就是它可能变成另一个“马来人尊严大会”,它排除了大马非穆斯林。后者如果没有感觉受辱,也会感到完全被排除在整个活动之外,因为大多数非穆斯林都支持希盟上台执政。

问题是,吉隆坡峰会似乎是一个旨在加强大马、印尼、卡塔尔、土耳其、巴基斯坦和伊朗关系的活动,但不排除一些中非共和国,如土库曼斯坦,那里也是国油公司希望通过巩固其石油和天然气开采商业关系的国家。但是,吉隆坡峰会必须首先意识到与这些穆斯林国家之间和内部贸易关系仍然很低,才能进行更多的对话和讨论。

这将是自1967年以来就穆斯林世界和伊斯兰合作组织的问题的老调重弹。

截至今日,整个穆斯林世界的国内生产总值仅占全球的5%。如果移除了石油及天然气领域,那么数字将下降到不到3%。

吉隆坡峰会可以试图成为亚洲的赫尔辛基,正如战略与国际问题研究所(ISIS)的已故诺丁苏比所说的,但它必须是真实的,而不仅是为了表面功夫。总而言之,如果吉隆坡峰会能够面向更多贸易并减少纷争,尤其是不属于夕阳产业的领域,那么这次会议将会成为取得关键的成功。

人们要看到吉隆坡峰会的主办者,即大马政府,如何避免被过去的失败经验所困。别忘了,甚至连赫尔辛基本身也因为受到强国俄罗斯和北大西洋公约组织(NATO)影响而变得黯然失色。

人们想知道吉隆坡峰会的主办者将来时候会不仅了解穆斯林世界的复杂性,而且也非常了解非穆斯林社区。

至少,吉隆坡峰会必须能够谈论中国和维吾尔族穆斯林,困在孟加拉克斯巴扎尔的罗兴亚难民、以及印度日益增长的兴都民族法西斯主义。这是一个长长的清单,也是很高的要求。吉隆坡峰会,正如所有首脑会议,必须提出真正的解决方案,而不是流于空谈。或许,吉隆坡峰会可能会提出务实及可行的解决方案让所有人感到惊讶。你永远不会知道。但就目前而言,它看起来更像是少数被选中的朋友来参加年终聚会的聚会!

莱斯福贤是EMIR Research的总裁兼首席执行官,EMIR Research是一个独立的智囊团,专注于根据严格的研究提出战略政策建议。

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