PARIS: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to attend several events here related to Kuala Lumpur's bid to be on the Unesco executive board for the 2015-2019 term.
Malaysian Ambassador to France Tan Sri Ismail Omar said Muhyiddin is scheduled to open the Malaysia Cultural Week 2015 at Place du Palais Royal today, followed by the Intangible Cultural Week Exhibition at the Unesco headquarters here the day after.
“He will host a dinner for permanent delegates of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries and call on Unesco director-general Irina Bokova,” Ismail told the Malaysian media yesterday ahead of Muhyiddin's working visit.
On Malaysia’s Unesco bid, Ismail said that since joining the entity in 1958, Malaysia had sat on the board between 1978 and 1983, 1987 and 1991, 1999 and 2003, and 2007 and 2011.
By virtue of currently being on the United Nations Security Council as non-permanent member, he said Malaysia was able to have a say on issues of global concern, and a place on the Unesco board would allow the country to give decision-making input, including on future directions of the body.
Ismail said Malaysia-France bilateral relations had grown stronger, especially in trade, investment, defence and education.
“Our cooperation is also expanding into new areas like tourism, science and technology, energy and transportation,” he said, adding that Malaysia was especially keen on building relationships with French small and medium-scale enterprises.
With France having some six million Muslims among its population, the largest in Europe, there was potential to expand trade in mainstream, as well as halal-based food products and beverages.
In 2014, Malaysia’s total trade with France amounted to RM17.6bil.
France is Malaysia’s 16th largest trading partner, 19th largest export destination and 12th largest import source. — Bernama