Malaysia’s Unwavering Support For OIC To Continue

By Abdul Muin Abdul Majid, Bernama

Dakar : Malaysia’s commitment and support towards the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will remain as strong after it relinquishes the chairmanship of the grouping to Senegal.

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Malaysian Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa said during Malaysia’s chairmanship, it had tried its level best to safeguard and promote the values and principles of the OIC.

“We earnestly hope that we have met the expectations of member states and brought about a positive outcome in the well-being of the ummah,” he said on behalf of the ministry at the ministerial preparatory meeting in the run-up to the 11th Islamic Summit Conference here.

Since taking over the chairmanship of OIC in October 2003, he said, Malaysia had worked towards revitalising the 57-member Jeddah-based organisation to enable it to function more efficiently for the benefit of the ummah as a community and on the international stage.

This includes Malaysia’s active participation in the restructuring of the OIC general secretariat, revision of the OIC charter and establishment of the OIC Commission of Eminent Persons.

Rastam said Kuala Lumpur had also advocated the reorientation of the OIC through the parallel dimensions of political and economic development, the latter through the implementation of practical economic programmes on an incremental basis to boost the economic development of member states.

Among them is the Capacity Building Programme for OIC Countries launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in March 2005 aimed at reducing poverty and strengthening economic development by enhancing capacity building in human resource development, institutional, organisational and management skills, and development of infrastructure.

“To date, four projects have been implemented in Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Bangladesh and Aceh in Indonesia. Following the projected success of these projects, four new ones have been recommended to be implemented in Guinea, Jordan, Maldives and Yemen,” he said.

Malaysia also played a part in establishing the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) — the Muslim World’s version of the World Economic Forum hosted regularly by the Swiss city of Davos.

“The WIEF has proven to be a valuable platform to identify new trade and investment opportunities. Moreover, it serves to help improve the understanding of Islam and bring communities closer for the benefit of the ummah and the rest of the world,” said the Malaysian diplomat.

Promoting transparency and health issues were also high on Malaysia’s agenda as it played host to the First Combating Corruption and Enhancing Integrity Forum in August 2006, and the OIC Health Ministerial Conference in June 2007 themed “Health: The Impetus Towards Islamic Solidarity”.

Kuala Lumpur had highlighted the importance of the role of women in a country’s development with the convening of the OIC Expert Group Meeting on Women’s Participation in Decision Making in November 2007.

Rastam said Malaysia was committed to establishing the International Zakat Organisation, and the International Zakat Conference in Kuala Lumpur in November 2006 had decided for Malaysia to become the ad-hoc secretariat and take necessary measures to concretise the initiative.

Malaysia hosted two conferences in 2006 and 2007 in response to the growing trend of Islamophobia, a move in line with the Putrajaya Declaration of the 10th OIC Summit in 2003 as well as OIC’s 10-Year Action Programme which stresses on the need for the body and other international organisations to engage in high level dialogue to promote cooperation and understanding among the world’s different cultures and ethnic groups.

“Malaysia believes that it is important to enhance and revitalise the image and dignity of Islam and the ummah worldwide in light of increasing negative perceptions about Islam in recent years,” Rastam said, adding that this could be done by improving Muslims’ economic and social positions in society.

He further stressed that the Muslim world should remain steadfast in efforts to secure an independent, sovereign and secure Palestine.

“The excessive use of force by Israel in Gaza is a matter of great concern. The killing of innocent civilians in Gaza and the Occupied Palestine Territories deserves our strongest condemnation.

“The OIC must speak. We must do so with one voice. We must urge that negotiations be the basis of a just and fair solution,” Rastam added.