PETALING JAYA: The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, popularly known as MbS, is scheduled to visit Malaysia from Feb 17-18 where he will meet Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
This will be his first tour to South-East Asia since he was implicated in the savage murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
Reuters reported that the Prince is expected to visit Malaysia, China and Indonesia, as well as India and Pakistan.
Last October, Jamal was dismembered by Saudi Arabia’s agents in its consulate in Istanbul, accelerating into the worst crisis between the Saudi kingdom and the West since September 11, 2001.
MbS is alleged to have ordered the assassination of Jamal after the latter criticised the kingdom.
On Oct 22 last year, Dr Mahathir himself condemned the killing of Jamal, describing it as an act of “extreme cruelty” and unacceptable.
Malaysia, he said then, does not support the killing of government critics.
“This is extreme cruelty, and it is not acceptable. We too have people that we do not like, but we don’t kill them.
“Luckily, last time I too was one of those people who were not liked. However, if we had a system like the Arabs, maybe we too will be unable to speak today,” he said during a forum in Shah Alam at the time.
Reuters further reported that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince is expected to announce investments in energy and infrastructure during a visit to India and Pakistan in coming days as part of his efforts to wean the Saudi economy off oil exports.
Initially, Saudi Arabia denied that the killing of Jamal had even taken place.
However, on Oct 19, the Saudi prosecutor released a statement saying that 18 Saudi nationals arrested by Saudi authorities had acted with premeditated intent.
The killing has seen bipartisan condemnation from both Democratic and Republican senators in the United States, although US President Donald Trump said he found the Saudi explanation “credible”.
Germany, Norway and Denmark stopped the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia over the incident. Canada has also threatened to freeze its arms deal over Jamal’s killing.