KUALA LUMPUR – August 16, 2017: The decision to proceed with the official visit here of the Emir of Qatar next month has been lauded as the right one, despite its diplomatic row with neighbouring Arab countries.
One is that the decision reflects Malaysia’s policy of adopting a neutral position in issues not linked to it and secondly that the invitation was sent in February before the problem in the Middle East surfaced.
Geostrategist Dr. Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia goes further to say that a postponement may even worsen the crisis facing Qatar.
“Postponing the visit would only create the perception that Malaysia is succumbing to pressure from the other Arab countries. This is not good for our image.
“Aside from being neutral, Malaysia has also voiced its opinion in wanting the crisis to be amicably resolved as soon as possible. Taking sides will only worsen and prolong the crisis which is why we cannot afford not to be neutral,” said Azmi.
The crisis started when Saudi Arabia led United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to sever ties and impose trade and travel bans on Qatar after accusing it of involvement in terrorism. They were later joined by Maldives, Yemen, Mauritania, Senegal, Comoros, Somaliland and Libya.
Concern over Malaysia’s neutrality, particularly its ties with Saudi Arabia, surfaced following news of the impending visit by Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani.
According to The Malaysian Insight yesterday, the visit had caused a spat between Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and Special Functions Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein but this was quickly denied by both.
Azmi thinks the visit will not upset Malaysia’s ties, especially with Saudi Arabia, as the latter has always known of Malaysia’s non-partisan stance in the crisis.
Blogger Zakhir Mohamad aka Big Dog blog concurred, saying that being neutral in relation to the crisis is the best stance for Malaysia.
In his latest post, the blogger writes that a mere visit by the Qatari Emir will not be enough to sully Malaysia’s ties with Saudi Arabia.
“Our matured eco-system, corporate law, corporate practices and governance and continuity of foreign and trade policies are some of the strong magnetism factor for trade and investments.
“It is the gravy train which nations like Saudi, Qatar and China are interested and very much like to get on, in serving their own trade and investment requirements, growth and forecast,” he wrote.