AFTER a one-year hiatus, the Consortium of Indian Industries Malaysia’s (CIIM) Deepavali event was held in a carnival-like atmosphere.
Playing host at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club was CIIM founder-chairman Datuk Umang Sharma and his wife Datin Suniti Sharma, who welcomed the chief guests – newly-posted Indian High Commissioner BN Reddy and his wife Lalita Devi.
The evening proved to be a splendid opportunity for the envoy, fresh from presenting his credentials to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Nov 10, to network with the business personalities who turned up.
Besides representatives of Indian businessmen affiliated with CIIM, there were also notable guests invited from the Malaysian side.
They included International Trade and Industry Ministry senior director Vimala Murugan, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) senior vice-president Raymond Siva, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) deputy chief executive officer Sivasuriyamoorthy Sundara Raja, Dutch Lady Milk Industries chairman and Climate Governance Malaysia chairman Datin Seri Sunita Rajakumar and Sutra Dance Theatre artistic director Datuk Ramli Ibrahim.
Among other personalities present were Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia chief executive officer Abrar A. Anwar, BJP Malaysia chapter president Pardeep Batra, who is also managing director of the Spice Garden chain of restaurants, and Sky Blue Media Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Manikandamurthy Velayoudam.
In his speech, Reddy said he was fortunate to be back in Malaysia to serve his second tour of duty, having been the Deputy High Commissioner here from 2008 to 2011.
“It looks like I left Kuala Lumpur just the other day but a decade has passed.
“I am frequently asked about the changes I see now.
“While I am still trying to find answers, what struck me the most is the continuity.
“Several of the CIIM members with us today were also present here a decade ago.
“This is a sign of continuity and a strong signal of India’s long-term business interests in Malaysia,” he added.
Reddy spoke of what he termed a significant gradual relaxation of restrictions leading back to pre-Covid-19 days, commending Malaysia for “learning to live with Covid-19 better.”
He noted the successful measures taken by the Malaysian government, starting with the resumption of inter-state travel, the reopening of Langkawi for international tourism, starting the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with Singapore and the plan to allow foreign tourists to visit from Jan 1 next year.
He said 2022 would be a significant year with it being 65 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Malaysia, and also 75 years of India’s independence.
“This will be an excellent backdrop to review and revamp our overall trade, investment and economic relations,” he added.
Umang, in his welcoming address earlier, said he expected India-Malaysia relations to prosper with Reddy’s second posting here.
“He was such a popular person even back then.
“I remember during the CIIM farewell speech I made exactly 10 years ago, I mentioned that I wished he would come back as High Commissioner to Malaysia.
“And today we have that as a reality,” he said to applause.
He described Reddy as a distinguished diplomat with varied diplomatic experience.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the officers from International Trade and Industry Ministry and Mida for their excellent support and guidance over the years and especially during the pandemic period, with their pro-business policies.
“I have been told that Indian companies have also greatly contributed to Malaysia’s growth, having invested over US$3bil (RM12.6bil) and created more than 20,000 jobs,” Umang added.