The shadow of terror looms large over the Malaysian capital, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to arrive on Saturday for two key regional summits and bilateral talks aimed at drumming up investment for big-ticket infrastructure projects.
As regional leaders arrived for the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia put in place extraordinary security measures after a leaked police memo warned 10 suicide bombers had entered the capital city.
Modi and other world leaders such as US President Barack Obama are set to participate in two weekend summits – the ASEAN-India Summit on Saturday and the East Asia Summit on Sunday – and about 4,500 security personnel have been deployed or are on standby in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia’s police chief Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed the authenticity of the leaked police memo about “imminent terrorist threats” but said the information about the suicide bombers was not verified. However, security agencies are taking no chances as the memo stated the suicide bombers were deployed after a meeting between the Islamic State, Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front.
As with Modi’s participation in the recent G20 Summit in Turkey, the discussions at the two summits in Kuala Lumpur are expected to be dominated by terrorism in the wake of the devastating Paris attacks that killed more than 130 and Friday’s storming of a hotel in Mali by terrorists. The ASEAN’s usual focus on economic issues too has been overshadowed by global efforts to combat the IS.
Visits to strengthen economic & security ties: Modi
In a series of posts on his Facebook page, Modi said his visits to Malaysia and Singapore are aimed at strengthening both economic ties and security cooperation.
Referring to the 10th The 10th East Asia Summit on Sunday, Modi said the meet is “being held at a critical juncture” and would focus on “pressing security issues”. He added: “The looming threat of terror and the prevailing situation in West Asia will also be a part of the discussions.”
Apart from the two summits, Modi will hold bilateral talks with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak and other world leaders. Modi has projected Malaysia as the core of India’s “Act East Policy” while ASEAN is the country’s fourth largest trading partner.
“Our trade and investment flows are substantially growing. Yet, we want to further scale up our trade and economic ties. I will expand on the need for closer economic cooperation and investment opportunities in India at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit...,” Modi said.
India wants stronger ties with ASEAN members in defence, security and culture. “Robust India-ASEAN ties will give great impetus to our collective dream of making this century an ‘Asian Century’,” he added.
During the East Asia Summit, leaders will take stock of the grouping’s achievements since its creation in 2005 and deliberate on its future. Seven statements and declarations are expected to be adopted at the East Asia Summit, including the Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates, Statement on Countering Violent Extremism, Statement on Issues Related to Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies and Statement on Enhancing Regional Health Security Relating to Communicable Diseases.
Community programme in Malaysia
As with Modi’s recent visits to countries with a large Indian diaspora, a community reception at the MIECC on Sunday will be a centrepiece of the Prime Minister’s visit to Malaysia. Members of the country’s 2 million-strong Indian community will join the programme being billed by its organisers as a celebration of “two nations with one glorious future”.
Modi will also join a programme on November 23 for inaugurating the Torana Gate, an intricately carved gateway at the Brickfields suburb of Kuala Lumpur that is popularly known as “Little India”. The gateway, built for more than $1 million and representing hundreds of years of Buddhist and Islamic art, is a gift from India to mark the launch of the Little India project to improve the suburb.
The Prime Minister will also interact with Corporate Malaysia, visit a local branch of the Ramakrishna Mission, inaugurate a statue of Swami Vivekananda and travel to the Batu Caves, a series of cave temples in a limestone hill at Selangor.
From Malaysia, Modi will travel on November 23 to Singapore, where he will hold talks with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President Tony Tan Keng Yam, and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on strengthening ties on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations.
He will also meet Singapore’s prominent investors and pay homage at the Indian National Army Memorial Marker at Esplanade Park in the city state that is home to more than 350,000 people of Indian origin. There will also be a community programme on the evening of November 24.