By Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik with Senior VC Choe Nam-suk, Editor Kevin Lee, Business Editor Joseph Sung
Malaysia's Minister of International Trade and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz of Malaysia said, “I believe that this momentous event today is not only meant to celebrate and commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Look East Policy (LEP) between Malaysia and Korea but, more importantly, to maintain the momentum in further driving the trajectory of robust and vibrant economic ties between our two countries.”
Speaking at a gala reception Minister Zafrul then emphasized, “In this spirit, Malaysia will continue its commitment to work with Korea in ensuring more success stories under the LEP initiatives through the execution of impactful projects that bring tangible benefits to the economy, business community and the people at large.”
The gala reception hosted by Minister Zafrul and Ambassador Datuk Lim Juay Jin of Malaysia in Seoul at the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Ganghwamun in Seoul in front of the Gyeongbok-gung Palace on the evening of March 15. 2023 drew many distinguished guests from within Korea and without, including Second Vice Minister Lee Dohoon of Korea (who attended on behalf of Minister Park Jin who was in Japan), CEO Datuk Wira Arham Abdeul Rahman of Malaysia Investment Development Authority, CEO Datuk Mohd Mustafa Abul Aziz of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, and leaders of various segments of Korean society and international organizations in Korea, including the media whence came Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media with his raptorial-editorial team, e.g., Senior Vice Chairman Choe Nam-suk and Editor Kevin Lee.
Minister Zafrul deeply impressed the guests with notable remarks in his speech. He said, “I am delighted to be in Seoul and it is indeed a wonderful time to be here in this city, as the first sights of spring are beginning to emerge and it is also a particularly meaningful trip for me, as this is my inaugural Trade and Investment Mission to Korea in my capacity as the Minister of International Trade and Industry.”
Zafruls then added: “Trade and Investment Mission is a flagship programme by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in boosting efforts to promote Malaysia as a preferred investment destination as well as a sourcing hub for global businesses. Valuing Korea as an important trade and investment partner for Malaysia for decades, I sincerely hope that the Mission will further spur our robust bilateral relations with pragmatic cooperation in all sectors.” (See further details of his speech in the attached text.)
Over the years, Korea and Malaysia have achieved outstanding developments together as friends, partners and neighbors.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea, the two countries have a long-standing friendship. Although not known to many, shortly after the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1960, Malaysia contributed to the funding for building a bridge named ‘Malaysia Bridge,’ in a village in Gyeonggi Province of Korea, near the border with North Korea.
Then in the 1980s, a Korean construction and engineering company built the ‘Penang Bridge’ connecting the Island of Penang with Peninsula Malaysia. Korean companies also took part in building Kuala Lumpur's iconic Petronas Twin Towers. Likewise, Korea and Malaysia are close friends who achieved economic and social development together over more than sixty years.
Korea and Malaysia are mutually important and reliable partners. Malaysia is Korea's 13th largest trade partner and Korea is Malaysia's 8th largest trade partner, with total trade volume exceeding US$20 billion in 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the early 1980s, the government of Malaysia has been pursuing cooperation with Korea with great importance under the Look East Policy (LEP). In 2023, our two countries will commemorate the LEP's 40th Anniversary and also plan together the next 40 years ahead.
Korea and Malaysia are very familiar neighbors. Korean music or K-pop, K-dramas, and movies are much loved in Malaysia, along with a wide variety of Korean products ranging from food, fashion, cosmetics, and electronic devices.
Malaysia is one of the favorite destinations for Koreans travelling overseas. The total number of visitors between Korea and Malaysia reached the one-million mark for the first time in 2019 and the two friendly nations are now seeing the number of people-to-people exchanges recovering as they are moving towards the endemic phase with the relaxed travel restrictions. The Korean Embassy in Malaysia opens a consular office in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah to cater to the growing number of Korean expatriates and tourists in East Malaysia.
With the Indo-Pacific region becoming ever more important geopolitically and geoeconomically in the recent years, Korea and Malaysia are working on bringing our cooperation to a new height for peace and common prosperity in the region and beyond. By elevating the bilateral ties to a strategic partnership, Korea will further promote and revitalize her mutually beneficial exchanges in various areas, including diplomacy, defense, economy, and culture.
Speech by Minister Tengku Abdul Aziz of International Trade & Industry of Malaysia:
His Excellency Park Jin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea
His Excellency Datuk Lim Juay Jin, Ambassador of Malaysia to the Republic of Korea
Datuk Wira Arham Abdul Rahman, Chief Executive Officer
Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA)
Datuk Mohd Mustafa Bin Abdul Aziz, Chief Executive Officer
Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE)
Mr. Eric Baek Seung Ryul, Chairman of Korean Chamber of Commerce (Malaysia)
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening and Annyeonghaseyo! (Meaning: hello; pronounced as An-nyeong-ha-se-yo)
First and foremost, I would like to express my appreciation to His Excellency Park Jin, for taking the time from his busy schedule to be with us for tonight’s Reception to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Look East Policy (LEP) between Malaysia and Korea. Excellency, your presence tonight is the manifestation of Korea’s continued support at the highest level, towards the implementation of Malaysia’s Look East Policy. And for that, I am truly honoured and humbled by your kind gesture.
I wish to also extend my warmest welcome to all our guests tonight, notably the representatives from Korean Ministries, Agencies and institutions involved in the Look East Policy initiative with Malaysia as well as the business community from Korea and Malaysia.
My heartiest gratitude to His Excellency Ambassador of Malaysia, Datuk Lim Juay Jin and his team at the Embassy, as well as Malaysian students in Seoul, for your commitment and immense support in ensuring the successful organising of this event.
I am pleased to share that just a couple of days ago, my Ministry and the Embassy of ROK in Malaysia co-organised an Opening Reception to kick-off the celebration for the 40th Anniversary of the LEP with Korea. And today, I am here in Seoul, to commemorate this auspicious occasion.
I believe that this momentous event today is not only meant to celebrate and commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the LEP between Malaysia and Korea – but more importantly to maintain the momentum in further driving the trajectory of robust and vibrant economic ties between our two countries. In this spirit, Malaysia will continue its commitment to work with Korea in ensuring more success stories under the LEP initiatives through the execution of impactful projects that bring tangible benefits to the economy, business community and the people at large.
Excellency and distinguished guests,
I am delighted to be in Seoul and it is indeed a wonderful time to be here in this city, as the first sights of spring are beginning to emerge. It is also a particularly meaningful trip for me, as this is my inaugural Trade and Investment Mission to Korea in my capacity as the Minister of International Trade and Industry.
Trade and Investment Mission is a flagship programme by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in boosting efforts to promote Malaysia as a preferred investment destination as well as a sourcing hub for global businesses. Valuing Korea as an important trade and investment partner for Malaysia for decades, I sincerely hope that the Mission will further spur our robust bilateral relations with pragmatic cooperation in all sectors.
Over the span of 63 years since diplomatic relations were established, Korea has grown to be one of Malaysia’s strategic partners, consistently ranked among the top ten our global trading partners. Our bilateral trade was recorded at RM114.21 billion for 2022, an increase of 29.3% compared to 2021, despite the challenges posed by the global economy and geo-political tensions.
Malaysia is proud to host Korean companies – which now numbers around more than 350. Their presence has enriched our domestic industrial landscape and has helped grow our local talents. Currently, there are 379 implemented manufacturing projects worth RM32.9 billion with investment participation from Korea, which have created 46,373 employment opportunities. In light of the contribution by Korean companies in industrial development of Malaysia, we welcome more investments from Korea, particularly in emerging industries that Malaysia is pursuing, which bring mutual benefits to both countries.
Excellency and distinguished guests,
Forty years ago, Malaysia took the leap of faith to learn and emulate the best practices from the East Asian countries through the Look East Policy (LEP). Since then, the LEP has been the main catalyst in consolidating the special bond of friendship between Malaysia and Korea, through strong cooperation, high-level interaction and people-to-people linkages. Indeed, our collaborative relations have led to greater momentum of progressive bilateral partnership which has further advanced and solidified our multi-faceted ties and engagement with Korea.
Underpinned by the special friendship between our two countries, we continue to see the LEP play a key role in advancing our economic collaboration. Being one of Malaysia’s important trading partners, I look forward to further reinforce and harness the synergies of both countries in addressing emerging global issues for mutual interest. With our shared aspirations towards the future, I am optimistic that it will present vast opportunities for both sides to ramp up our collaborative partnership in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), digital economy, robotics, as well as the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda.
Given the increased focus on ESG principle which has brought about challenges as well as opportunities for economies around the world, we need to set the right policies towards sustainable growth for future generations, while contributing towards value creation. Cognisant of Korea’s advancement on this front, Malaysia hopes to learn from Korea and pursue collaboration in this area under the LEP banner.
Excellency and distinguished guests,
As we commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the LEP between Malaysia and Korea this year, we are not only celebrating the achievements of the past but also crystallising the prospects of the future. With our shared aspirations towards the future, it is crucial for both countries to explore new and creative ways to deepen and widen our collaboration in areas of mutual interest in this fast-evolving international environment. In this regard, I sincerely hope that the LEP would further elevate our special relationship.
Before I conclude, on behalf of the Government of Malaysia, I would like to thank the Republic of Korea, especially colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea as well as those who have contributed to the robust and success of the Look East Policy. The close collaborations steered by the Ministries and agencies have contributed towards forging the vibrant bilateral relations between Malaysia and the Republic of Korea. With the continued commitment from both sides, I am confident that the bilateral economic linkages of Malaysia and Korea will soar to greater heights for our mutual benefit.
Finally, I wish everyone a Happy 40th Anniversary of the Look East Policy!