Foreign ties remain strong despite pandemic

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s international relations have remained largely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin says.

He said global travel restrictions has not been a hurdle to maintain strong and friendly foreign ties, and cited the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) virtual summit hosted by Kuala Lumpur late last year as testimony to this.

Muhyiddin said given a choice, he would have preferred eye-to-eye meetings.

By preserving strong and friendly ties, Malaysia will continue to enjoy the benefits of multilateral international cooperation, he said.

“And that is why the (Covid-19) vaccine roll out is important. It is not solely for me or business delegations to go abroad, but once we are inoculated, we feel safer.

“Perhaps this would then lead to the opening of our borders and strengthen our foreign relations further, ” he said in a special interview with Bernama and several other media organisations at his residence in Bukit Damansara here in conjunction with his first anniversary as Prime Minister.

The interview was aired on Bernama TV last night.

Towards this end, the Prime Minister said a series of visits to strengthen bilateral ties have been planned in the next few months.

Muhyiddin also talked about his official visit to Indonesia early last month, saying ties between both nations carried significant economic importance as the republic has been touted as an emerging superpower, like China.

“Malaysia has always held firm with its foreign policies and I am continuing to defend them, but policies alone are insufficient if they do not bring benefits in return, and that is why we must forge close bilateral ties, ” Muhyiddin said.

The Prime Minister said the Perikatan Nasional-led government has never taken its foreign relations lightly.

“China being our largest trading partner cannot be taken lightly because if we do not have close ties with them, Malaysia stands to lose out. This is why I have plans to visit the country and meet President Xi Jinping to discuss how China and Malaysia can work together on agendas decided before this, ” he said.

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