Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the member of the Malaysian parliament, who is on a five-day official visit to India, called on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and discussed bilateral, regional and global issues.
According to IndianExpress news reports, Anwar, also the leader of the Parti Keadilan Rakyar (PKP) party, arrived in New Delhi to attend the 2019 Raisina Dialogue, considered India’s geo-strategic conference and India’s flagship annual geopolitical.
In an official statement, the ministry of external affairs said that Anwar was accompanied by two members of the Malaysian parliament – Santhara Kumar Ramanaidu and Kesavan Subramanian. Modi congratulated Anwar over his recent election as the president of PKP party and conveyed his regard to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The statement said the two leaders discussed bilateral, regional and global matters.
Anwar said he has faith that “India, despite any recent image of it as veering towards religious hardliners, remains a vibrant democracy, an example for many other developing countries and one of the most important nations in Asia”.
Anwar described himself as “a very old Indian watcher and frequent visitor”, and said he believed that the foreign policy establishment, especially the “civil service elites, want India to be seen only in the narrow terms of economic interest. Perhaps that is why New Delhi has been so silent on some issues like the Rohingya crisis in the neighbourhood. But India, as a leading democracy, must make itself heard on such issues, without the fear that its stand will allow others to rake up the Kashmir dispute internationally”.
Referring the ideas propagated by Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders like him, Anwar said, “Nehru was right to bring up Asian concerns and ask for solidarity among developing countries to stand against the arrogance of superpowers. Regional groupings will be critical in the near future. While the global order today is very different from the end of the 20th century, the relations between ASEAN and India, as well as Malaysia and India can play a key role in ensuring stability.”
Anwar, mincing no words about his tumultuous relationship with Mahathir, said, “Calling our relationship stormy is an understatement. But Mahathir has committed to reforms and to clean up the system. We had to come together to end the rule of Najib Razak and bring in the change and reform the country needs.”
“Indonesia and India have the largest number of Muslims in the world. Both are democracies, both peoples are for freedom. In fact, it can be argued that where Muslims are a minority, they press more for liberal values,” Anwar said.
Expressing his personal interest in China, India, and Indonesia, according to Anwar, “The current potential of the relationship has not been explored. Beyond tourism and medical education (a large number of Malaysia’s doctors study in India), we must explore and expand cooperation in sectors like IT and aviation. We must also expand cultural cooperation and ties, which are no less important.”