Pakatan backbenchers defend PM’s Saudi Arabia visit from criticism

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) backbenchers today defended Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to Saudi Arabia that rival lawmakers have portrayed as disorganised.

They said there was clear indication in Saudi Arabia that the visit was according to protocol.

“Why? If we look at the evidence, the prime minister was allowed to land at their airport using a non-commercial aircraft and the Prime Minister also got diplomatic visa approved in a short time,” PKR’s Sungai Petani MP Mohamed Taufiq Johari told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

“If we look at when the prime minister landed (in Saudi Arabia), his delegation and him received royal protocol treatment whereby they were given escorts and other (facilities).”

He added that during Anwar’s visit, the broke a fast with the Malaysian students at the Nabawi Mosque and received an escort of royal guards throughout his stay in Saudi Arabia.

“The prime minister was invited extend his stay in Saudi Arabia but he had requested to leave early as he had to attend an engagement with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with Cabinet members, and after that take off to Cambodia and has since returned to show his commitment by attending to the Prime Minister’s Question Time this morning,” he added.

Mohamed Taufiq was joined by DAP MPs Howard Lee and Syerleena Abdul Rashid as well as PKR’s R Yuneswaran.

“The visit was fixed between two country’s foreign ministers, about a month back. The visit was an official visit and went e through a process which fulfilled both country’s conditions.

“So, if there is talk about an unsuitable date, there is documentation by both parties (countries) that there was an agreement for the visit, otherwise how could a non-commercial aircraft land at their airport, and how their visas were expedited,” Lee said.

After Perikatan Nasional (PN) MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Ahmad Kamal alleged that the prime minister’s visit was a failure, Wisma Putra said the trip earlier this week was arranged in accordance with the standard operating procedure for state visits.

It further said early preparations between both countries and their respective embassies started as early as February 19, and after Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir met with his Saudi counterpart in Riyadh to discuss possible visit dates and expected deliverables from the trip.

Wisma Putra also said it received an official Diplomatic Note dated March 21 in which the Saudi Arabian embassy confirmed the dates of the visit.

It said the same note was also received by Malaysian diplomatic representatives in Riyadh, where it referred to Anwar's March 22 to March 25 meeting with Saudi monarch King Salman Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

During the visit, Anwar and his delegation had a meeting with the Saudi Arabian business community at the headquarters of the Islamic Development Bank.

Anwar also witnessed the signing of three memoranda of understanding between private companies in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.