KL Summit – Malaysia

Selamat datang Kuala Lumpur. The capital city of Malaysia with 1.8 million people out of 32.7 million of Malaysia’s total population. My first visit after 2012 when I was a student at Monash University’s KL campus. Since then it has a special place in my heart as a destination of a variety of cultures that are infused in one melting pot and which offers a unique living and traveling experience.

It was a great privilege of being invited to KL Summit by Al Sharq Youth Forum to participate as recognised member of the business community together with 450 delegates comprising leaders, thinkers, intellectuals, politicians and non-governmental organisations from 56 countries, including the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Over the years I’ve been afforded the opportunity to contribute to and organise similar events with different organisations. However, what stood out in KL was that it was the first time in recent memory that muslim nations were mobilising purely around a developmental agenda. Being the initiative of Malaysia’s visionary Prime Minister, Tun Mahatir Bin Muhammad, the summit sought to develop a joint roadmap for member states to set and achieve sustainable development goals, to increase bilateral trade amongst member states and to collaborate in advancing Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Over a period of 3 days, an exhaustive and structured consultative process was undertaken to prioritise key development areas, set corresponding goals as well as to develop a high-level roadmap to be implemented by participating countries. This implementation would be managed by a joint council of the participating countries.

At the opening ceremony of the summit, attendees were welcomed by special appearance of the social humanoid robot lady Sophia. The robot..

A more memorable moment was inspecting Malaysia’s domestically produced X-70 Crossover SUV together with Tun Mahatir. The showcasing of this model at the summit was also personal for Tun Mahatir. In his last stint as Prime Minister which ended way back in 2003, he had overseen an ambitious program to position Malaysia as the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) hub of ASEAN, which included the development of a smart ICT themed corridor or cities which included parts of KL, Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. He had also overseen the successful development of the countries automotive sector and its domestic brands with Proton starting to gain traction in foreign markets. In the years since, domestic brands declined with Proton itself facing insolvency. Tun Mahatirs significance in the revival of Proton and the sector in general was emphasized to myself and the team by Protons management during our private business engagement at the company’s head office.

On the sidelines of the summit, we had the opportunity to meet with distinguished business leaders as well as to catchup with friends and business associates. Some of those we met included the Chief Minister of Kedah State, Mukhriz Mahatir and his team, Petronas executives and my good friend Datuk Abdul Jabbar.

The Chief Minister shared with us a light moment when he let on that his family were fans of the Drillis Ertugrul series with his wife nowadays calling him Mukhriz bey. On a more serious note, we discussed the upcoming airport for Kedah State as well as its enormous economic potential with its free zones and proximity to Thai markets. We had also discussed ways to effectively increase bilateral trade between Kedah State and Turkey, given Kedah state’s strong position in the production of microchips and processors.

Overall, the KL Summit sought to address pressing issues which have been neglected as the muslim world in general has been pre-occupied with attending to humanitarian and developmental disasters orchestrated by occupying forces. Adopting a common developmental agenda based on Islamic ethos is key to deliver the muslim world from cycles of generational socioeconomic challenges that it currently faces. Much of the muslim world falls under the low to medium income categories. However, the muslim world neither lacks capital resources, nor does it lack human capital or economies of scale. What it may be lacking is the leadership which could unite the whole Islamic world, common vision and joint action.

I strongly believe that the KL Summit has set the tone to achieve these objectives and the next sequel is extremely important to take these objectives into the phase of execution in the following years.