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Chairman of WIEF visits Kuwait as part of a series of trips
August 21, 2013, 12:28 pm

The 9th World Islamic Economic Forum will be held in October 2013 on the invitation of Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. The forum, which has been held in different Islamic countries, has taken the attention and interest of those who are non Muslim nations. Visiting special envoy of Malaysia’s Prime Minister and Chairperson of the World International Economic Forum (WIEF) Tun Musa Hitam speaks to The Times and discusses the purpose of his series of visits to different countries and provides an insight of WIEF and its advocacies. Tun Musa Hitam was the Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, member of the Board of UNESCO and Leader of various Commonwealth missions. he was Malaysia’s Special Envoy to the United Nations and from 1995 to 2002 the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). Tun Musa Hitam was the leader of the Malaysian delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights from 1993 to 1998 and Chairman of the 52nd Session of the Commission in 1995.  Before becoming Malaysia’s fifth Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs in 1981 to 1986, Tun Musa Hitam held a number of key government posts, including Chairman of Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), Deputy Minister of Trade & Industry, Minister of Primary Industries and Minister of Education. Below is the interview with the Times.

The Times: Kindly state the purpose of your visit to Kuwait

Tun Musa Hitam: The visit to Kuwait is a part of series of visits on behalf of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), which will be held in London in October and to be attended by heads of the government and individuals engaged in different sectors of economy. The visit does not carry or represent any bilateral or multilateral concerns but as special envoy to the Prime Minister of Malaysia to invite heads of government to participate in the forum as well as another official from Britain since the forum will be under the auspices in particular the Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Times: Kindly provide an insight of what will happen in the 9th WIEF in London

Tun Musa Hitam: The forum is very significant since this is very first time is will be held outside an Islamic country. We have had the forums in Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Islamabad, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Asia and the 9th forum represents economic communities outside economic communities of the Islamic world. We are very enthusiastic about this forum; in fact Prime Minister Cameron has pledged his full support as well as the British government to collaborate on joint committees. The forum will deal with concerns raised by government leaders on the first day and the business sectors on the succeeding day. The forum completely disregards political and religious issues and suggests solely focusing on business. The forum discusses networking, possibility of exchange of views and suggestions, works on strategies on know how to carry out and forecasts on what comes next and the challenges to face.

The Times: Can you provide the difference between Devos World Economic Forum and World International Economic Forum

Tun Musa Hitam: In due respect to World Economic Forum (WEF), I have attended some of its forums in the past; the forums seem to highlight and prioritize on top and big names in the business sectors. It is the gathering of the elites, a typical “if you are somebody in business then you have to be there”. On the other hand WIEF represents and prioritizes the needs, considering that the Islamic business community development is slow. Many minute business ventures all over are drivers of economy in business sectors, take for example the women who vend in the streets, they are often left behind, WIEF wants them to advance in modern sectors, belong to the technological world that covers the world broad in business coverage within their reach. It is very uplifting to see their faces light up and that someone paid attention to them, we do things in small ways but we ensure that meaningful to everyone. 

The Times: Kindly comment on WIEF empowering women and development of youth

Tun Musa Hitam: We intend to pursue and provide meaning to those who participate. In fact, we do not choose popular places but less known areas since they need it most. It is something we are proud of.  WIEF also has programs for the youth such as the ‘The Marketplace of Creative Arts’, the Foundation’s arts festival. WIEF that recognizes the power of the creative and cultural sectors of our global economy and the role that art, culture, and creativity play in the lives of young people and as a means for economic empowerment and social enterprise across the globe. The Marketplace of Creative Arts, as a truly international festival, brings together artists and audiences from around the globe as it travels from city to city for each edition. The Marketplace presents artists in a variety of disciplines and genres and besides the highlighted performances includes workshops, master classes, dialogue sessions, networking opportunities, film screening, visual art displays, interactive installations, and artistic collaboration.

We need to pay attention to participate needs of ‘Ummah’ in the world. Emphasis must be made to get our priorities right against too much politicizing on issues. We are proud of London and we have been receiving invitations from different countries to hold the forthcoming forums and this is overwhelming.

The Times: Aside from WIEF, are you in Kuwait to meet and discuss other concerns between Kuwait and Malaysia?

Tuna Musa Hitam:  I am not in Kuwait to promote any bilateral concerns or discuss issues between our countries. I am here not to represent Malaysia as well but a part of an international organization. Media asked me if I could comment on diplomatic ties between both countries, but what is to say when both countries in fact face no problem? I have spoken to different influential people and journalists in different parts of the world and they have seen the potential in this part of the world. Take for example South East Asia, which activity has revolutionized developments in significant sectors and needed not look at the West.  In due respect, Kuwait looks at the West too much, it is traditional on its part in same way with other Middle Eastern countries. They need to get a closer look at potential investments that can affect better bilateral and multilateral terms. Putting aside modesty, South East Asia has come a long way and for the past 10 years, it needed not look much at the West. The ASEAN has been very successful that now it involves other countries such as ASEAN plus other countries. Would it be better if GCC and ASEAN deepen and strengthen as well as collaborate no matter how small the areas are? We often take each other for granted and deal more on talks than actions.

The Times: How many countries are participating in the 9th WIEF in London?

Tun Musa Hitam: we expect about ninety countries. In the past we have turned down participants due to constraint in place. In Kuwait we have had six hundred attendees, 2,700 in Jakarta and in London about 1,500. These people know there is something worth and valuable to learn and know in these forums. Unfortunately, we might need to turn down some late registrants in case venue does not accommodate.

The Times: Any final words to our readers?

Tun Musa Hitam: WIEF is a jewel in our crown, in terms of ownership as Muslims. It is something valuable and worth. The Islamic world has been looked down upon that it is not serious in engaging to the needs of ordinary people that range from less significant to most prominent ones.  We do not trust ourselves much. I believe we have almost arrived in our destination; we need to nurture, support and subscribe to it. It is something we are proud of and timely to ask for substantial supports we aim to improve as we go along. We do not intend to be left out and behind, because we cannot afford it.

Ricky Laxa
Staff Writer
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