Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Musa Hitam will be representing Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak as head of the Malaysian delegation to the 32nd ASEAN Summit held in Singapore from 27-28 April 2018.
While no explicit reason for Razak's absence was given, Razak who is also party chairman of the ruling Barisan Nasional, is expected to be tending to domestic commitments as Malaysia braces for elections in early May. Nomination day had been fixed by the Malaysian Election Commission on the 28th of April which clashes with the final day of the summit.
In a statement to the press, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Hitam will be accompanied by his wife, Ramlan Ibrahim, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department.
Hitam served as Deputy Prime Minister from 1981 to 1986 under the premiership of former Malaysian Prime Minister turned opposition leader, Mahathir Mohamad.
Upon his retirement from politics in the late 1980s, he served as Malaysia’s Special Envoy to the United Nations between 1990 and 1991. He was also the Special Envoy to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group since 1995. The same year, he served as Chairman of the 52nd Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He led the Malaysian delegation to the commission from 1993 to 1998.