PUTRAJAYA,. The polemics and unfounded perceptions raised by some parties regarding Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to Saudi Arabia is a far cry from the real facts, said the Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) in a statement on Tuesday.
The issue has been cast in a negative light by certain groups, and such an action is clearly unfair to Wisma Putra and the Malaysian Government as well as to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Saudi Arabia.
The Malaysian delegation was accorded full national guest status, including the provision of vehicles, accommodation and security coverage by the Saudi Royal Guard and protocol officers from the royal court.
“These national guest status facilities were also provided during the Umrah pilgrimage at Makkah where more than 50 security personnel accompanied the Prime Minister. The facilities were also provided during the pilgrimage in Madinah,” said Wisma Putra.
While in the country, the Malaysian delegation received notification that the duration of the visit be extended from the original period in order to arrange courtesy visit sessions and meetings with the highest leadership of the Saudi Arabian government.
However, the Malaysian delegation politely declined the request due to the Prime Minister’s commitments that had been set earlier before the visit.
“This included the breaking-of-fast event with His Majesty the Yang di Pertuan Agong and Her Majesty Raja Permaisuri Agong at Istana Negara on March 25 and the prime minister’s official visit to Cambodia on March 27,” the statement said.
According to the ministry, the initial preparations for the visit included a series of discussions between Wisma Putra and the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and between the Malaysian Embassy in Riyadh and the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir also met the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia during his visit to Riyadh from Feb 19 to 22, 2023 where, among other things, the Prime Minister’s visit and the appropriateness of the dates were specifically discussed.
The proposed initial date for the visit, either before or during the month of Ramadan, was also not an issue on the part of Saudi Arabia, which has received visits from foreign leaders during the month of Ramadan.
Wisma Putra had also received a diplomatic note dated March 21 from the Saudi Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, confirming the date for the prime minister’s official visit to the kingdom. A similar diplomatic note was also received by the Malaysian embassy in Riyadh from the government of Saudi Arabia.
According to the statement, both diplomatic notes refer to the prime minister’s official visit from March 22 to 25, including a courtesy visit programme with King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is the kingdom’s prime minister.
“The two diplomatic notes clearly stated that the government of Saudi Arabia welcomed the visit, including the performance of Umrah in Makkah and the pilgrimage in Madinah,” it said, adding that diplomatic notes are among the most formal communications between governments.
Wisma Putra said Anwar’s visit reflects Malaysia’s commitment to improve relations and cooperation between the two countries to a stronger and more comprehensive level.
“Malaysia has always considered the Government of Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner,” said the statement.
The ministry said the polemics and unfounded perceptions raised by some parties in Malaysia for narrow political interests will not help efforts to dignify Malaysian diplomacy towards strengthening relations and cooperation with friendly countries around the world at the bilateral, regional and international levels.
Among the issues raised by some, including the opposition parties, regarding the visit included the issue of the prime minister being welcomed only by the governor of Jeddah and the said meeting with King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed Salman failed to take place .