LONDON: Malaysia is heading to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council polls today with a burst of last-minute effort to woo the fence-sitters.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said that just like in any election, they were still trying very hard to secure support from those which had yet to take a stand.
“As you can imagine, normally the last-minute swing of votes may count,” he said after a reception for more than 500 delegates at the Malaysian High Commission on Wednes-day. Among those present were Malaysian High Commissioner to Britain Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohamad, IMO’s newly-elected president Georg Boomgaarden, its secretary-general Efthimios E. Mitropoulos as well as the heads and representatives of IMO’s 169 member states.
Twenty-six countries, including Malaysia, are vying for 20 seats in the council’s category C, which is for nations with maritime and navigational interests.
Malaysia was first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2007, receiving 103 votes on both occasions.
Ong, who is leading a 16-member delegation in campaigning for the post, said they hoped to garner at least 110 votes this time around.
“Perhaps I need to raise the bar slightly. Getting 100 votes seems okay but is far from being comfortable,” he said when asked about Malaysia seeking 100 votes to be in the top 20.
He said he was looking at 110 votes or more as this year’s competition was getting stiffer compared with 2005 and 2007.
Ong said they were still working relentlessly to secure more support over the last 24 hours despite the rise in the number of countries endorsing Malaysia’s candidacy.
He said one of their campaign targets was to seek outright support from some 120 member states that were not contesting in the elections.
“We’ve been able to secure quite a number of them to give us their support whereas for some other contestants, we work on a quid pro quo basis,” he added.
Ong said he was still “cautiously optimistic” of Malaysia’s chances as it treasured the council seat as well as its role in the international maritime fraternity.
He said Malaysia’s contributions to the industry had been widely acknowledged by key players in the global maritime sector.
He also described the sizeable turnout at the reception as an indication of the support for Malaysia as most of the participants were the delegates and leaders of the member states.
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