Na­jib to lead del­e­ga­tion to In­dia tomorrow

B. SURESH RAM speaks to the High Com­mis­sioner of In­dia to Malaysia T.S. Tiru­murti on the up­com­ing visit by Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak to In­dia and how it is ex­pected to fur­ther boost their di­a­mond ju­bilee in bi­lat­eral ties this year

New Straits Times - - News -

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak will un­der­take an of­fi­cial visit to In­dia from tomorrow to April 4 to boost ties be­tween Malaysia and In­dia.

At the in­vi­ta­tion of In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, Na­jib is sched­uled to visit Chen­nai, New Delhi and Jaipur. This would be Na­jib’s third visit to In­dia since as­sum­ing of­fice as prime min­is­ter in 2009.

“The visit un­der­lines the strong bi­lat­eral re­la­tions that have been es­tab­lished for 60 years, and will pro­vide the op­por­tu­nity for Malaysia and In­dia to ex­change views on a range of bi­lat­eral, regional and in­ter­na­tional is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est,” a gov­ern­ment state­ment said yes­ter­day.

Na­jib will be ac­com­pa­nied by his wife, Datin Seri Ros­mah Man­sor, For­eign Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ani­fah Aman, min­is­ters and se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

In New Delhi, Na­jib will be ac­corded an of­fi­cial wel­com­ing cer­e­mony at the Pres­i­den­tial Palace be­fore pay­ing a cour­tesy call on Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee.

This will be fol­lowed by a meet­ing with Modi and a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with se­nior mem­bers of both del­e­ga­tions.

Is­sues that are ex­pected to be dis­cussed in­clude trade and in­vest­ment, in­fra­struc­ture projects, de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, air ser­vices ar­range­ments, tourism and cul­tural re­la­tions.

Sev­eral gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing and doc­u­ments be­tween Malaysia and In­dia will be signed dur­ing the visit.

Na­jib will also hold di­a­logue ses­sions with lead­ers and cap­tains of in­dus­tries in In­dia.

On the last day of his visit, the prime min­is­ter will of­fi­ci­ate the newly-com­pleted com­plex of the High Com­mis­sion in New Delhi.

Ques­tion: How are the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween Malaysia and In­dia, af­ter 60 years? Answer: Re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and Malaysia are prob­a­bly at their high­est level right now. Apart from our his­tor­i­cal and civil­i­sa­tional ties, and the pres­ence of a very large In­dian di­as­pora in Malaysia, the last 60 years have wit­nessed grow­ing prox­im­ity be­tween the two na­tions in a range of ar­eas. The forg­ing of a strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween In­dia and Malaysia in 2010 has made the re­la­tion­ship mul­ti­di­men­sional. I would like to ac­knowl­edge the im­por­tant ini­tia­tives taken by Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak in bring­ing our two coun­tries closer. This visit, in the con­text of the 60th an­niver­sary of es­tab­lish­ment of the diplo­matic re­la­tions, fol­lows Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s land­mark visit to Malaysia in Novem­ber 2015.

Q: How sig­nif­i­cant is Na­jib’s visit to In­dia?

A: The visit of the prime min­is­ter of Malaysia to In­dia prom­ises to be an im­por­tant one. He will hold bi­lat­eral talks with our lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing Modi. We are con­fi­dent that we will take to a new high our close bi­lat­eral ties in de­fence and se­cu­rity, in­vest­ment and com­mer­cial ties, health and In­dian tra­di­tional medicine, ed­u­ca­tion and en­trepreneur­ship, sports, etc. We ex­pect an an­nounce­ment of busi­ness en­gage­ments to the tune of around US$5bil­lion (RM22 bil­lion) dur­ing this visit. His visit to Chen­nai will boost ties be­tween the In­dian di­as­pora in Malaysia and Tamil Nadu, since most of the In­dian com­mu­nity here are Tamils.

Q: What are the agree­ments and mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing (MoUs) ex­pected to be inked by Malaysia and In­dia dur­ing the visit?

A: While we are in the process of fi­nal­is­ing the MoUs and agree­ments, we hope to sign or an­nounce agree­ments in the ar­eas of busi­ness and in­vest­ment, de­fence, health, In­dian tra­di­tional medicine, sp o r t s , e ntrepreneur­ship and ed­u­ca­tion. We also look for­ward to sign­ing more than 15 busi­ness agree­ments. Agree­ments are also ex­pected to be an­nounced with the states of Ra­jasthan, Kar­nataka and Andhra Pradesh.

We hope to sign or an­nounce agree­ments in the ar­eas of busi­ness and in­vest­ment, de­fence, health, In­dian tra­di­tional medicine, sports, en­trepreneur­ship and ed­u­ca­tion. We also look for­ward to sign­ing more than 15 busi­ness agree­ments. Agree­ments are also ex­pected to be an­nounced with Ra­jasthan, Kar­nataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Q: How im­por­tant was the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment signed by Malaysia and In­dia in 2011, and how has it boosted trade and busi­ness be­tween both na­tions?

A: The sign­ing of the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment in 2011 was, in­deed, a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment. The trade had, how­ever, stag­nated re­cently, partly due to ex­ter­nal eco­nomic down­turns and the slide of the ring­git. Trade bal­ance is also against In­dia. We hope that this visit will serve to boost busi­ness-to-busi­ness en­gage­ments and give a fil­lip to our trade en­gage­ment. We also look for­ward to sign­ing a bal­anced Regional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship agree­ment with East Asian coun­tries.

Q: How can Malaysia and In­dia boost trade and in­vest­ment be­tween both na­tions?

A: There is def­i­nitely con­sid­er­able po­ten­tial in trade and in­vest­ment be­tween the two coun­tries. As the world econ­omy and the Malaysian econ­omy pick up, we should see a spurt in growth in our trade re­la­tions. As re­gards to in­vest­ment, I would like to un­der­line that more should be done by the pri­vate sec­tor in Malaysia to en­gage and look for busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in In­dia since, un­like in a few other coun­tries they are used to, In­dian busi­ness is pri­vate-sec­tor driven and the Malaysian com­pa­nies have to in­vest that much more ef­fort.

Q: Thou­sands of Malaysians are study­ing in In­dian uni­ver­si­ties and more In­di­ans are now com­ing to Malaysia for their ed­u­ca­tion. How can this be en­hanced fur­ther ? A: More than 7,000 to 8,000 Malaysians are cur­rently study­ing in In­dia, mainly in medicine. Fur­ther­more, our ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, like the Malacca Ma­ni­pal Med­i­cal Col­lege, are house­hold names. There is a need to open up In­dian ed­u­ca­tion to Malaysians in other fields. I hope that the agree­ment on equiv­a­lence and recog­ni­tion of de­grees can be signed be­tween In­dia and Malaysia dur­ing this visit, since it will par­tic­u­larly benefit Malaysian stu­dents. This is a call which Malaysia has to take, since we have such agree­ments with all ma­jor coun­tries of the world which have recog­nised the strength of In­dia’s ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

Q: Some 180 flights con­nect Malaysia and In­dia. How could this be fur­ther lever­aged upon by both na­tions?

A: Tourism and con­nec­tiv­ity are cer­tainly of great in­ter­est to both coun­tries. Let us not for­get that AirAsia is now a do­mes­tic air­line in In­dia, and var­i­ous Malaysian air­lines fly to most des­ti­na­tions in In­dia. I am happy to note, from press re­ports, that some of the ini­tia­tives an­nounced by the Malaysian gov­ern­ment tar­get In­dian tourists, whose num­bers had de­creased last year due to var­i­ous fac­tors. I am hope­ful that th­ese is­sues will be ad­dressed. The an­nounce­ment of life­long Over­seas Cit­i­zen of In­dia Cards to Malaysian In­di­ans by our prime min­is­ter has given a big boost to strength­en­ing our ties with the In­dian di­as­pora in Malaysia, and fa­cil­i­tates their travel to In­dia for pil­grim­age and tourism, and also in­vest­ments in In­dia.

Q: Will visa travel regime be­tween Malaysia and In­dia be re­viewed to fur­ther ease travel by cit­i­zens of both na­tions to each coun­try?

A: In­dia has al­ready eased the visa travel regime both by grant­ing e-visas to Malaysians, as well as an­nounc­ing Over­seas Cit­i­zen of In­dia Cards to Malaysians of In­dian ori­gin for life­long travel and stay in In­dia. I have also read re­ports of Malaysia eas­ing visa re­quire­ments for In­di­ans. Let us hope that this leads to a greater spurt for con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween the two na­tions.

In­dian High Com­mis­sioner to Malaysia, T.S. Tiru­murti

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