Anwar and Muhyiddin Yassin: Two visits, two differing results

RECENT reports have raised concerns about Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s diplomatic reception during his official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Given that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s prime minister, did not meet with Anwar, some have questioned the significance and impact of the visit on both countries’ relations.

(Editor’s Note: A Bernama report said the scheduled meeting with Mohammed did not take place as the crown prince had a change of plans ahead of the Ramadan month.

Anwar himself has expressed disappointment at not being able to meet him, but added that Saudi leaders had requested him to extend his stay for two more days in order to meet with the kingdom’s leaders.

However, Anwar could not stay longer as he had to attend an iftar (breaking of fast) event with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and make an official one-day trip to Cambodia.)

This disappointing outcome has prompted comparisons to the previous prime minister’s successful visit to the kingdom in March 2021, demonstrating the excellent diplomacy between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s visit was a model for diplomatic success. His visit was marked by warm receptions and signed agreements, strengthening Malaysia-Saudi Arabia ties.

Muhyiddin was greeted at the airport by Crown Prince Mohammed and granted access to the Kaaba, a rare honour reserved for heads of state and eminent Muslim figures.

During his visit, memorandums of understanding were signed, demonstrating tangible progress in the bilateral relationship and contributing to broader regional cooperation and economic development.

Mahathir Mohd Rais

Muhyiddin’s visit included stops in trade, investment, and education, demonstrating the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s dedication to a comprehensive and mutually beneficial relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Anwar’s visit, on the other hand, did not result in high-profile agreements or receptions, raising questions about the effectiveness of his diplomatic efforts and the potential impact on Malaysia-Saudi relations.

This result has raised concerns about the primary goals of Anwar’s visit and whether they were met. Furthermore, it is critical to understand how political factors in both countries may have influenced Anwar’s reception during his visit.

The lack of high-level meetings raises further concerns about the future of Malaysian-Saudi diplomatic efforts and what steps should be taken to ensure a more robust relationship moving forward.

Another significant issue raised by the public is the cost of Anwar’s trip. It is critical to assess how much public money was spent on this visit, especially given the apparent lack of diplomatic accomplishments. Transparency in government spending is essential for maintaining public trust and ensuring taxpayers pay responsibly and effectively.

The disappointing results of Anwar’s visit compared to Muhyiddin’s previous success have led many people to criticise the current government’s diplomatic efforts. The broader diplomatic context and potential implications for the relationship must be considered.

Ultimately, Anwar’s visit raises legitimate concerns about the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) administration’s diplomatic capabilities and the impact on Malaysia-Saudi relationships.

The achievements of Muhyiddin’s visit should not be overlooked because they demonstrate the possibility of strong diplomatic ties between our country and Saudi Arabia.

The public should evaluate Anwar’s visit in light of the larger diplomatic context, the current government’s capabilities, and the potential implications for international relations in the future. – March 26, 203


Mahathir Mohd Rais is the Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Federal Ferritories’ information chief (Federal Territories).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Facebook

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