KUALA LUMPUR: The two giant pandas have been given new names by Malaysians to welcome them to their home for the next 10 years.
Fu Wa, the male panda, is now called Xing Xing which means Prosperity, while female panda Feng Yi is Liang Liang or Pretty.
In announcing their names, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said their presence in Malaysia is an honour and a symbol of the strong relations between Malaysia and China.
“The pandas now have two names – one given by China and the other given by Malaysia.
“We are deeply honoured by this opportunity to host them. I was informed that many countries have requested for the giant pandas but China has yet to grant it,” the Prime Minister said when opening the Giant Panda Conservation and Exhibition Centre, and launching Zoo Negara’s 50th anniversary celebration.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry had organised a contest to name the two pandas and had received some 2,000 suggestions.
The pandas arrived in Malaysia on May 21 to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China.
To date, China has forged “panda diplomacy” with only 14 countries.
The Prime Minister said the presence of the giant pandas would promote greater awareness on the importance of conservation works, including China’s efforts with pandas.
“We hope this awareness will spur further interest among Malaysians to conserve our own endangered wildlife as well as appreciate the importance of wildlife and biodiversity sustainability,” he added.
Najib said the Government would carry out more of such efforts to save the country’s iconic and endangered species such as tigers, elephants and orang utan.
The Prime Minister said some quarters questioned the spending of RM25mil to build the conservation centre, but he clarified that the Government forked out RM10mil while the 1MDB Foundation forked out the remaining RM15mil.
He said that detractors need to look at the “bigger picture” as the centre symbolised the warm relations that Malaysia enjoys with China, including in trade which reached US$106bil (RM340.6bil) last year.
“Even (China’s) Prime Minister Li Keqiang said that Kuala Lumpur-Beijing relations is special and will always be given priority,” he added.
Najib hoped that with Xing Xing and Liang Liang making Malaysia their home, it would further strengthen ties between the two nations and provide Malaysians and tourists the experience of seeing a panda “up close and personal”.
He also announced that children, senior citizens and individuals with disabilities could visit the pandas for free for a month beginning Saturday.
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