LONDON: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will attend a reception to be hosted by the heir to the British throne, The Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, in conjunction with the Royal Charter Award on the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies (OCIS), during his official two-day visit to the United Kingdom, beginning Monday.
Malaysian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Datuk Seri Zakaria Sulong, said the invitation to Najib was due to Malaysia’s commitment in contributing to the setting up of the centre.
He said this would be the particular highlight of the prime minister’s “overnight” visit to the United Kingdom.
Prince Charles, who is very active in promoting multi-faith, is the patron of OCIS, while Najib is a member of the High Council of OCIS and had given a lecture entitled, ‘Coalition of Moderates and Inter-Civilisational Understanding’.
The reception will be held at St James’ Palace on Tuesday evening.
“Malaysia is very much appreciated for its involvement in various activities in the OCIS. We have also been respected in terms of our efforts. Our academicians are also involved at the centre,” Zakaria told the Malaysian media here Sunday.
OCIS focuses exclusively on the study of Islam and Muslim communities and enjoys tremendous working relationship with Malaysia. Malaysia has been greatly involved in the building of the new OCIS centre and had contributed wood carving to the centre.
Najib’s visit to the UK comes only a month after British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Malaysia, and this reflected the close relationship between the two countries, which have strong historical ties.
Zakaria said both prime ministers had developed a very good personal rapport.
“This is needed in terms of bringing the relations to a new level,” he told the Malaysian media here, pointing out that bilateral ties were already very close.
He mentioned Cameron’s visit to Malaysia which took place, soon after Najib visited the UK in July last year.
He also remarked that for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations this year, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah had been invited by the Queen to attend the celebrations.
“This goes to show how close the relationship is between the two countries, and it is really very encouraging,” noted Zakaria.
During the visit, Najib, who would be accompanied by wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, will also launch the Friends of the Barisan Nasional UK (FBNUK) on Monday.
Zakaria said that the club was established by Malaysians in the UK and those in Malaysia.
“It is an effort by both to reach out to other Malaysians and relay to them the various programmes that the prime minister had launched,” he said.
The envoy said the club was also a one-stop centre where Malaysians could get information relating to trade, networking or even tourism.
He added that the club would complement other Malaysian corporations like Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation and Malaysian Investment Development Authority.
Malaysians in London would also get the opportunity to mingle with the prime minster at an ‘Evening with the Prime Minister’ event scheduled for late Monday evening.
Zakaria expects a good turnout at The 02 arena in Greenwich in East London, which can accommodate about 2,000 people.
The prime minister will also witness a memorandum of understanding signing ceremony between Felda Global Ventures and its strategic partners.
Najib and wife are expected to leave for the United States on Tuesday night. — BERNAMA