Mon., June 23, 2003

Malaysia Offered OIC Secretary General Post

By Kazi Mahmood, IOL Southeast Asia Correspondent

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 ( - Malaysia had been already confirmed as the future Chairman of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), news agencies said Saturday, June 21.
Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar Saturday said that - based on preliminary discussions with his counterparts from the OIC member countries - there would be no problem for them to give their support to Malaysia’s candidate.
Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, is tipped to take over the post even though he declared Saturday that he was not keen to be OIC Secretary General, Bernama news agency reported.
However, Albar said the overwhelming wish of the OIC members for Malaysia to nominate a candidate for the post was evident when they were keen to know whether Mahathir would be interested to hold the post after he steps down in October.
Arab nations in particular wishes to have Mahathir as Sec. Gen. of the OIC because they believe his stature on the world scene would bring strength to the OIC.
Albar added that Malaysia takes a serious view of the aspirations of Islamic countries to give a new lease of life for the 57-member grouping when the country will assume the chairmanship of the OIC this year.
"I consider Malaysia's OIC chairmanship in October as not a privilege to us, but a heavy responsibility that must be shouldered rationally so that we can make significant contributions to the grouping and the image of Islam," he said to Bernama.
He said when he attended the OIC Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Tehran recently; many countries urged Malaysia to reinvigorate the OIC after assuming the chairmanship.
The current OIC secretary-general, Dr Abdelouahed Belkeziz of Morocco, has held the post since 2001. Malaysia's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj was the first OIC secretary-general, serving from 1971 to 1973.
In case Mahathir does not take the job, Malaysia may still nominate another former minister who is well versed in foreign policies, was told by a member of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) on Sunday, June 22.
Mahathir last year termed the OIC as an “Oh I see” organization, meaning to say that the OIC was only a toothless body that could not play any positive role in the world.
However, some observers in Malaysia insist that an organization like the OIC could play major roles in the Muslim world and could become a main platform for Muslims, recognized by the international community.