KUALA LUMPUR: The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim paid tribute to Umno, which he described as a Malay-based political party that the Southern Philippine Bangsamoro people could learn a lot from.

“The story of Umno and its founding has much to be shared with the Bangsamoro as lessons to be learnt in the political life of the Malay people,” Murad said at an international forum held in conjunction with the Umno general assembly which starts Tuesday.

“In Malaysia’s struggle against colonialism, how Umno engaged in conciliation and conflict resolution is exemplary, and your country’s citizens have reason to be grateful for your experience in governance,” he added.

The forum on “Conflict and conciliation and the people’s politics: looking back or looking forward?” was held at the Putra World Trade Centre. Murad was in Kuala Lumpur to attend the forum.

Murad thanked the Malaysian Government and its leaders including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for their longstanding support to the peace process in the conflict-torn region.

He said organising the forum ahead of the annual meeting of Malaysia’s largest political party projected Umno as a party whose interest went beyond domestic politics to include a desire to be united with the larger Muslim ummah and international community.

The soft-spoken Murad related Malaysia’s contributions in the Southern Philippine peace process which led to the signing of a landmark framework peace agreement last month between the MILF and the Philippine Government.

Murad said the current round of peace talks began when the Philippine Government under then president Gloria Arroyo sought help from then Prime Minster Tun Dr Mahathir in 2000 to facilitate a negotiated political solution to the conflict.

He said Malaysia also contributed in other areas such as the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

Murad noted how the first IMT contingent was put in place with Najib, who was then Defence Minister, traveling personally to Mindanao to lend support. He described Najib as a leader who believed in moderation and transformational leadership.

“I have also noted with interest Prime Minister Najib’s approach of moderation during the recent ASEAN meeting, which led to the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.”

Murad said the MILF was also thankful to senior Umno leaders in Cabinet who he said had helped the peace process with their strong support.

– THE STAR

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