Ambassador of Malaysia Dato’ Shariffah Norhana Syed Mustaffa with Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the National Day of Malaysia. An important date in the calendar for all Malaysians, Ambassador to Việt Nam Dato’ Shariffah Norhana Syed Mustaffa speaks to Việt Nam News about the this year’s celebrations.
On this day, back in 1957, our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj declared independence by shouting “Merdeka” seven times at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. The word has become a rallying cry for Malaysians today as it unites all people from different cultures, ethnicities, religions and economic background.
Malaysia Prihatin (Malaysia Cares) has been chosen as the theme for this year’s National Day celebration. The theme was chosen in recognition of the caring, determined and patient nature of Malaysians in facing the trials and tribulations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also carried the meaning that every Malaysian is together with the government in combating the pandemic.
From a humble beginning, Malaysia has grown tremendously over the past 63 years. In fact, when it achieved its independence in 1957, not many people gave it much hope to even stand as a nation, looking at the diversity of its population. And Malaysia’s combustible ethnic make-up did explode in 1969 when a racial riot erupted.
However, with the foresight of its leaders at the time, Malaysia introduced policies to remedy the situation. One of the methods used to encourage unity is the “Rukun Negara” or the national principles, which was declared during the Independence Day in 1970.
The formulation of the principles of the Rukun Negara was thanks to the efforts of the National Consultative Council. The aim of the Rukun Negara is to create harmony and unity among the various races in Malaysia. The principles were also aimed at instilling national unity and harmony among its multi-racial population, re-structuring the society by eliminating identification of race by economic function and geographical location, and eradicating poverty as well as ensuring fairer distribution of wealth. This year, Malaysia is also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Rukun Negara.
Since then, Malaysia has successfully reduced the economic gap among the various ethnic groups, among others, through industrialisation and active participation in globalisation of world’s economy. The country expanded its GDP per capita from US$357 in 1970 to more than $11,000 in 2019. At the same time, a period of rapid economic growth and redistribution of wealth has almost eradicated poverty which was significantly reduced from 49 percent in 1970 to about five percent in 2019.
In the international arena, Malaysia takes an approach of an independent, principled and pragmatic foreign policy founded on the values of peace, humanity, justice and equality. The thrust of its foreign policy has been to safeguard Malaysia’s sovereignty and national interests as well as to contribute towards a just and equitable community of nations.
Being one of the founding members of ASEAN, the regional association remains the cornerstone of Malaysia’s foreign policy. The establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015 has further elevated Malaysia’s approach and engagement at the regional level.
On Malaysia - Việt Nam’s relations, both countries have a long-standing friendship with excellent cooperation in many areas since the establishment of diplomatic relations on March 30, 1973. Our relations can be described as broad-based and substantive, with both countries presently enjoying vibrant cooperative relations in a wide range of sectors namely trade and investment, education, security, defence and people-to-people ties which culminated towards a Strategic Partnership between Malaysia and Việt Nam.
The people-to-people relations between the two countries are also very encouraging. More and more people from the two countries are visiting each other. Unfortunately, since the outbreak of COVID-19, Malaysia has cancelled the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign and postponed several training courses offered to the Vietnamese officials under the Malaysia Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) programme for 2020.
As we look forward to working closely with our Vietnamese friends in future cooperation, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Malaysians and friends of Malaysia in Việt Nam “Happy 63rd National Day”. — VNS