KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today defended the setting up of the King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) in Putrajaya, against its detractors who were concerned that Malaysia might have painted a bull’s-eye on itself for the Islamic State (IS) terror group.
The defence minister said Malaysians cannot live in fear, even as the whole world faces the danger from the jihadist group.
“No country is safe from being targeted by militants and terrorists as even developed countries are marked, let alone us.
“We cannot live in fear. And even though I have been placed on the IS hit list, it doesn’t mean I want an all out war with them,” he said in a press conference.
In November 2015, Hishammuddin revealed that three of Malaysia’s top leaders were targeted by IS, but did not confirm their identities. He was believed to be one of them, together with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his deputy Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
“It also doesn’t mean we cower and bow down because if we do, the militants will have succeeded,” Hishammuddin added.
He pointed out that terrorists and militants succeeded in their home nations because the moderates feared speaking out and confronting them.
Another aspect he noticed that is lacking in the war against terror was that there is no soft-power counter-narrative against the IS agenda, which he claimed was believed by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Muhammad Salman too.
“Who else is going to come up with a counter-ideology [against IS] if not us? Look at the moderation that our Prime Minister is promoting; the ‘moderate’ concept... don’t tell me we won’t fight for it out of fear and worry of being targeted.
“And if we fear having alliances with Saudi Arabia, China or the US... might as well we just become North Korea,” Hishammuddin said.
Among those who criticised Najib’s decision on KSCIP was controversial preacher Zamihan Mat Zin, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) officer seconded to Prisons Department to deradicalise Malaysian militants.
In response, deputy home minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said Zamihan should quit if he continues to ignore the warnings and advice given by various parties in response to his statements.