Najib postpones annual retreat with Singapore PM to attend OIC meeting on Jerusalem

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the 2016 Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat.
Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will not be attending a planned annual retreat with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong this week, after being invited to a Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) special meeting by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The special meeting was convened by Mr Erdogan in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The controversial announcement made by Trump last week sparked anger in the Middle East last week, with protests being held at US embassies worldwide.

“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,” PM Najib was quoted by The Straits Times as saying.

He added: “I called (PM Lee) Hsien Loong and said ‘please understand this affects my faith as a Muslim and the faith of all Muslims’.”

This would have been the eighth annual Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat, but it will now be postponed to a later date, The Straits Times reported.

While Mr Najib has publicly decried the US decision, he has also said that bilateral ties would not be affected by the issue.

“We can cooperate on other le­vels but when it comes to this matter, we have our own principles,” The Star quoted him as saying.

“We cannot accept it (the decision) as it involves sovereignty which was decided by a United Na­­tions Security Council resolution,” he said.

And although Malaysia’s Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has said that the Malaysian military was “on standby” to “contribute in an appropriate role”, the PM has said that the government hopes “it will not reach military level”.