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Malaysian PM calls for forging regional economic ties amid global conflict

23 May 2024: Pitching Malaysia as a “safe haven” for investment amid de-risking moves by Western nations, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim Thursday stressed the need to forge regional economic ties, according to an Anadolu report.

Anwar said: “Notwithstanding all these conflicts (in Gaza and Ukraine) … Malaysia, ASEAN, and the region should forge using economic policies, economic fundamentals, economic strengths, investments, and trade.”

Addressing the Nikkei Forum in the Japanese capital Tokyo, Anwar said such policies would allow regional governments “to champion the cause of our citizens and elevate the living conditions of our people.”

Malaysia will take over as the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional bloc of 10 nations, next year.

Opposing Russia’s war on Ukraine, Anwar said there were “contentious” issues between China and the US, and that the meeting between President Xi Jinping and Biden last November in San Francisco was “commendable and welcome.”

The Malaysian prime minister, however, said: “We want to continue to engage with Russia notwithstanding the differences.”

Anwar also stressed “using regional, sub-regional strength instead of being too disturbed and obsessed by developments abroad which we have limited capability to resolve.”

Noting that there were three global mega trends of geopolitics, digitalization, and climate change, Anwar said Malaysia employs an “independent foreign policy” with “open and frank” discussions.

“Notwithstanding the differences” with other nations, he said: “We have the advantage (as well).”

“German foreign policy says it de-risks … not to be over dependent on China, so they are looking for safe haven, mid-way, and they have chosen Malaysia,” Anwar said, referring to the growing tech investments in the Southeast Asian nation which also enjoys good relations with Beijing.

“Thanks to our stability, skilled labor force, and our economic and geopolitical non-alignment,” he added.

Pointing out the war in the Palestinian besieged enclave of Gaza, the Malaysian prime minister said: “We condemn with utmost strength the continued colonization, apartheid and genocide in Gaza and Palestine.”

“But we call for a cease-fire and peaceful resolution and respecting the two-state solution because that would ultimately ensure the peace,” said Anwar.

Anwar also met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and the two sides examined the progress of bilateral cooperation.

“We also touched on other issues of mutual interest, including the conflict in Palestine,” Anwar said.

He said Japan expressed its “willingness to cooperate with Malaysia to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people covering aspects of health, solid waste management, and the reconstruction of devastated areas.”

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