KUALA LUMPUR (Middle East Eye) -- Malaysia's newly elected government has shut down a Saudi-backed anti-terrorism centre set up under former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
The immediate closure of the King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) comes after local parliamentarians questioned the suitability of Saudi Arabia funding a deradicalization centre, citing fears of possible retaliation from the Daesh group.
The center was set up following a state visit to Malaysia by Saudi King Salman last year, described at the time as aiming "to combat terrorist threats and the spread of propaganda and ideologies bandied about by the extremists and the terrorists".
Muhammad Sabu, Malaysia's minister of defense, announced the centre's closure on Monday in Malaysia's parliament, and said the Ministry of Defense would resume control of the centre.
In a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Najib - who suffered a surprise defeat in May's election after being embroiled in a huge multi-billion dollar corruption scandal - said the centre's closure would offend the Persian Gulf kingdom.
"It's not something we planned. It was planned by the Saudi government, by King Salman himself. That's why it was named after him," Najib told reporters on Tuesday.
"They chose Malaysia, compared to many other nations. So we are rejecting help from Saudi, a nation that has a very good relationship with Malaysia."
Commentators, however, have described the move as an opportunity for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, elected in May, to distance itself from previous government initiatives, including Saudi-backed projects linked to the former prime minister.