‘Turkey, Erdogan voice of conscience for Muslim world’

By Hasan Mekki

ISTANBUL (AA) – The leader of the largest party in Malaysia’s ruling coalition and its next prime minister praised Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, in which he also discussed the political situation in both the world at large and his own country.

“Turkey, and specifically its president, has emerged as the voice of conscience for the Muslim world and also for developing countries,” said Anwar Ibrahim, head of Malaysia's People’s Justice Party, and set to be its prime minister in two years' time.

Referring to the causes of the Palestinians and the persecuted Rohingya of Myanmar, he said: “When it comes to justice, he [Erdogan] doesn’t compromise."

He added: “The number of migrants from Syria [in Turkey], which you cannot ignore, has topped 3.5 million people — no country in the world has a leadership that shows so much empathy for the poor, for the oppressed.”

Blasting the U.S. move last year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he said the country lacks concern for “the issues of justice and the deprivation of basic amenities.”

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

The U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital attracted widespread international condemnation.

– Government legitimacy

Anwar also called on Muslim countries to state their cases clearly even when doing so proves “very difficult” and “challenging.”

The major problem of Muslim governments is “legitimacy,” he argued.

“Whether the leadership represents the majority and conscience of their own people” is key, he said, adding that in countries such as Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, and now Pakistan with newly elected Premier Imran Khan, the leaders represent the conscience of the people.

“These countries understand better the issues than those known as authoritarian or dictatorships,” he added.

Turning to his own country, Anwar said Malaysia is more democratic now and has respect for the rule of law, a free press, and a vibrant economy.

He said though Malaysia was “a star of Asia” in the 1990s, it brightness and confidence were later dimmed by “endemic corruption.”

“The country has an extremely bright future,” he said, referring to a Malaysia focusing on good governance and ethical principles starting with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has pledged to step down in two years to make way for Anwar's own premiership.

– Dollar dependence

He also supported Turkish leader Erdogan’s call for trade in local currencies rather than the U.S. dollar, stressing the importance of reducing dependency on the dollar.

Dollar dependence wreaked “havoc” on many countries’ economies, he said.

Also speaking on person-to-person relations between Turkey and Malaysia, Anwar said even though there has been a rise in investments and tourism, they still remain at a low level.

“The potential is enormous in both Turkey and Malaysia,” he said, adding that both sides are “clearly committed” to enhancing ties.

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