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Politics and government of
This article concerns the Foreign relations of Malaysia.
Malaysia is an active member of various international organisations, including the Commonwealth of Nations, the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non-Aligned Movement. It has also in recent times been an active proponent of regional co-operation.
Malaysia has been a member of the Commonwealth since independence in 1957, when it entered into the Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement (AMDA) with the United Kingdom whereby Britain guaranteed the defence of Malaya (and later Malaysia). The presence of British and other Commonwealth troops were crucial to Malaysia's security during the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960) and the Indonesian Confrontation (1962–1966), which was sparked by Malaya's merger with the British colonies of Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo to form Malaysia in 1963.
The British defence guarantee ended following Britain's decision in 1967 to withdraw its forces east of Suez, and was replaced in 1971 with the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) by which Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to co-operate in the area of defence, and to "consult" in the event of external aggression or the threat of attack on Malaysia or Singapore. The FPDA continues to operate, and the Five Powers have a permanent Integrated Area Defence System based at RMAF Butterworth, and organise annual naval and air exercises.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman (up to 1970), Malaysia pursued a strongly pro-Commonwealth anti-communist foreign policy. Nonetheless, Malaysia was active in the opposition to apartheid that saw South Africa quit the Commonwealth in 1961, and was a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967 and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1969, with the Tunku as its first Secretary-General in 1971.
Under Prime Ministers Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn, Malaysia shifted its policy towards non-alignment and neutrality. Malaysia's foreign policy is officially based on the principle of neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries, regardless of their ideology or political system, and to further develop relations with other countries in the region. In 1971, ASEAN issued its neutralist and anti-nuclear Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) Declaration. In the same year, Malaysia joined the Non-Aligned Movement. Consistent with this policy Malaysia established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1974.
This policy shift was continued and strengthened by Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, who pursued a regionalist and pro-South policy with at times strident anti-Western rhetoric. He long sought to establish an East Asian Economic Group as an alternative to APEC, excluding Australia, New Zealand and the Americas, and during his premiership Malaysia signed up to an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and ASEAN+3, a regional forum with China, Japan and South Korea. He was involved with a spat with Australian prime minister Paul Keating, who called him a "recalcitrant" after he refused to attend the APEC summit in Seattle.
A strong tenant of Malaysia's policy is national sovereignty and the right of a country to control its domestic affairs. Malaysia views regional cooperation as the cornerstone of its foreign policy. It attaches a high priority to the security and stability of Southeast Asia, and has tried to strengthen relations with other Islamic states. Malaysia was a leading advocate of expanding ASEAN's membership to include Laos, Vietnam, and Burma, arguing that "constructive engagement" with these countries, especially Burma, will help bring political and economic changes. Malaysia is also a member of G-15 and G-77 economic groupings.
Despite Mahathir's frequently anti-Western rhetoric he worked closely with Western countries, and led a crackdown against Islamic fundamentalists after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Under his successor, Abdullah Badawi, relations with Western countries, particularly Australia, have improved. The current Minister of Foreign Affairs is Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, who assumed office on 18 March 2008.
Malaysia has never recognised the state of Israel and has no diplomatic ties with the state. It has remained a strong supporter of the State of Palestine, and has called for Israel to be taken to the International Criminal Court over the Gaza flotilla raid. Malaysian peacekeeping forces are present in Lebanon and has contributed to many other UN peacekeeping missions. The lack of recognition of Israel became an issue with respect to Malaysia's participation in a United Nations peacekeeping force after the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006.
Malaysia is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation). It is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Kuala Lumpur was the site of the first East Asia Summit in 2005, and Malaysia has chaired ASEAN, the OIC, and the NAM in the past. A former British colony, it is also a member of the Commonwealth.
Malaysia is affiliated with the United Nations and many of its specialised agencies, including UNESCO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Atomic Energy Agency; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Developing 8 Countries. Asian Development Bank, Five-Power Defense Arrangement, and South Centre. On 31 October 2011 Malaysia became a party to the Antarctic Treaty.
The policy towards territorial disputes by the Malaysian government is one of pragmatism, solving disputes in a number of ways, including some resolved in the International Court of Justice.
Malaysia has asserted sovereignty over the Spratly Islands together with China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Brunei. Tensions have eased since the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea". However, it is not the legally binding code of conduct sought by some parties. Malaysia was not party to a March 2005 joint accord among the national oil companies of PROC, the Philippines and Vietnam on conducting marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands.
ICJ awarded Ligitan and Sipadan islands, also claimed by Indonesia and Philippines, to Malaysia but left the maritime boundary in the hydrocarbon-rich Celebes Sea in dispute, culminating in hostile confrontations in March 2005 over concessions to the Ambalat oil block.
Singapore was a part of Malaysia for two years (1963–65), but it ultimately was asked by Tunku to secede after increased racial tensions due to the election campaigns in 1964. Today, disputes continue among other things, over the pricing of deliveries of raw untreated water to Singapore, Singapore's land reclamation causing a negative environmental impact in Malaysian waters, a new bridge to replace the Johor-Singapore Causeway which Singapore does not want to pay for, maritime boundaries, the redevelopment of Malayan Railway lands in Singapore and Pedra Branca. Both parties however, agreed to ICJ arbitration on the island dispute. On 24 May 2008, the International Court of Justice ruled that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore with the nearby Middle Rocks going to Malaysia. Regarding railway land in Singapore, see also Malaysia-Singapore Points of Agreement of 1990. On introducing budget flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, the stumbling block appears to be Malaysia's sympathy towards flag carrier Malaysia Airlines, and preference for the existing near duopoly with Singapore Airlines.
The Philippines has a dormant claim to Sabah.
Malaysia's land boundary with Brunei around Limbang is no longer in dispute. On 16 March 2009, Brunei announced its decision to drop a long-standing claim to Sarawak's Limbang district. This was the result of the two countries resolving their various land and sea territorial disputes. This issue was resolved along with several other disputes with the sealing and signing of letters of exchange by Abdullah and the Sultan Sultan Hasannal Bolkiah of Brunei at Istana Nurul Iman. As of 2010 the two countries are working towards resolving disputes over their maritime boundaries.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
Brunei has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has a high commission in Bandar Seri Begawan. Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The states of Sarawak and Sabah in East Malaysia are connected to Brunei via the Pan Borneo Highway. Brunei has denounced its claims on Limbang and recognises Malaysia's full sovereignty. In 2003, Brunei and Malaysia ceased gas and oil exploration in their disputed offshore and deep water seabeds and negotiations have stalemated prompting consideration of international adjudication.
Singapore has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has a high commission in Singapore. Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations. See also Malaysia-Singapore border, Pedra Branca dispute
Thailand has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Bangkok. Recently, Thai-Malay relations have soured considerably due to the ethnically-Malay Pattani separatists in three southern provinces of Thailand. There have been claims by the Thai government that Malaysia has taken an interest in the cause of their opponents in the war, which his vehemently refuted by the latter.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|People's Republic of China||1974||
China has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Beijing and a consulate-general in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Diplomatic relations were established in 1974.
Following the end of the Cold War, diplomatic foreign relations between China and Malaysia immediately and positively changed. That being said, political and cultural connections between the two nations began to strengthen. Both countries are full members of APEC, and there is a sizeable population of Chinese in Malaysia.
Diplomatic relations between Iran and Malaysia are brotherly and cooperative, with Iran having its Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia having its Embassy in Tehran. The two countries are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the D8.
The Economic trade between Iran and Malaysia is quite sturdy as well, amounting to US$1.43 billion as of 2008. In 2010, ASEAN jointly with Iran opened a trade center in Malaysia to promote trade ties between Iran and the regional countries.
Japan has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has an embassy in Tokyo.
Bilateral economic trades between Malaysia and Japan have increased. In 2011, total trade between both countries was at RM145.3 billion. Japan has increased its import of liquefied natural gas to about 34%. Before 2007, the bilateral rate between both countries were at a deficit. About 1,400 Japanese companies are operating in Malaysia creating more than 11,000 job opportunities. Halal certification endorsement by the Malaysian government has allowed Malaysian companies in the halal food industry to compete well in the Japanese market. The building of a halal park in Japan is also considered.
Malaysia and North Korea began bilateral relations in 1973. Both countries cooperate in bilateral issues of common interest at international level, especially at the United Nations and ASEAN Regional Forum. Yang Hyong Sop, the Vice-President of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly appreciated the humanitarian aid given by Malaysia during the food shortage faced by North Korea.
Pakistan has its High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has its High Commission in Islamabad. Pakistan has strong brotherly relations with Malaysia. Both are members of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Commonwealth of Nations.
There is a trade and cultural pact between the two countries, under which the import and export of various goods is done on fairly large scale. The President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan along with other high officials visited Malaysia many times and Malaysian officials also paid a good will visit to Pakistan. Both countries enjoy close relations and military links of mutual friendship and the cooperation has further strengthened.
Since the independence of Malaysia, Pakistan has supported the re-unification of Singapore, Pattani and Brunei as integral part of Kuala Lumpur's administration; it also considers the Riau Islands as part of Malaya Federation since its independence in 1960.
Pakistan and Malaysia are linked by air transport. Pakistan International Airlines and Malaysia Airlines operate many weekly flights between Karachi and Kuala Lumpur. Both Malaysia and Pakistan were a part of the South east Asian version of Nato called Seato also known as a 'mutual defence pact'.
The two countries established relations in 1960.
South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was in Kuala Lumpur from 9–10 December 2010 for a two-day visit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and South Korea.
Shukur Sabitov, Uzbekistan Ambassador to Malaysia since 2009, says the bilateral relations are especially about education, economy and tourism. There are more than 600 students from Uzbekistan who study in Malaysia. Many tourists from Malaysia come to visit Uzbekistan for its history of Islamic civilisation.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
A Bernama news report in October 2012 said that Malaysia through its Foreign Minister and Egypt through Mohamad Kamel Amr at the United Nations Assembly in New York on 28 September 2012 have agreed to step up bilateral trade and investment, as well as in the field of technology and energy. Both countries also agreed to have exchange visits by their trade ministers. Kamel Amr expressed Egypt's intention to learn from Malaysia with the intention to develop the country's socio-economy and politics. Malaysia is willing to share its experiences in accelerating the country's development.
Despite initial contact after the independence of Malaya, no diplomatic relations were made. Malaysia consistently rejected relations with Israel as it tried to increase its relations with Arab states and shore up support for its conflict with Indonesia. Malaysia officially declared it did not recognise Israel in 1966. Relations ceased to exist until the 1990s, when limited economic ties were made, although diplomatic ties were explicitly rejected. Malaysia has stated it will open ties with Israel upon a settlement of the issue of Palestine.
Saudi Arabia has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Riyadh. Relations, both diplomatic and economic, are quite close between the two Muslim-majority OIC members. Additionally, there is a sizeable population of Malaysian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.
Syria has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Damascus. Syria and Malaysia negotiated over a $30 billion worth of contracts over Malaysian companies building infrastructure in Syria.
|United Arab Emirates||1983|
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Albania||See Foreign relations of Albania and Albania–Malaysia relations
Malaysia is one of Austria's most important trading partners in Asia. In 2003, Austrian exports to Malaysia, covering a wide range of products such as machinery and components, especially electrical machinery and parts thereof, paper, paperboard, telecommunication equipment and medical and pharmaceutical products, declined by 10.8% to 82.6 million. Malaysian imports to Austria, consisting mainly of one product group, namely electronic and electrical goods, especially semiconductors, reduced by half to 236.4 million. In Kuala Lumpur, the Austrian Trade office offers support to Austrian and Malaysian companies to assist them in forging new partnerships.
|Georgia||7 May 1993||
Germany has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Berlin.
Formal relations between the two countries first began in 2000, when Malaysia became the first Asian country to establish a liaison office in Kosovo. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008 and Malaysia recognised it on 30 October 2008. Since that time, Malaysia has pledged assistance to Kosovo in several areas.
Netherlands has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in The Hague. The Dutch established relations with the Sultanate of Johor in the early 17th century, and in 1641 they captured the Portuguese colony of Malacca (on the south-western coast of today's Peninsular Malaysia). With a long interruption during the Napoleonic Wars, the Dutch Malacca era lasted until 1824.
In the 20th century, the Netherlands established diplomatic relations with Malaysia soon after the Asian state became independent. The erudite Dutch Sinologist and author Robert van Gulik (who was raised in the former Dutch East Indies himself) served as the ambassador of the Netherlands in Kuala Lumpur in the early 1960s. During his diplomatic service there he became closely acquainted with Malaysia's gibbons (he kept a few in his ambassadorial residence) and became sufficiently interested in this ape species to start the study of its role in ancient Chinese culture, the results of which he later published in his last book (Gibbon in China).
|Russia||1968 (as Soviet Union)||
Russia has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Moscow.
Entry to Malaysia was refused to all Serbian passport holders until 2007, unless they were in possession of a letter of approval from Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs. Citizens of Serbia and Montenegro were banned from participating in Malaysia My Second Home program. However, in August 2008, senior officials of Serbia and Malaysia held their first diplomatic meeting since 1991. Afterwards, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić said that establishing an embassy in Malaysia was a possibility, bilateral agreements between the two nations would be signed, and Malaysia has removed all visa restrictions for Serbian citizens. This meant that now only the citizens of Israel were banned from participating in Malaysia My Second Home program. Two months later in October 2008, Malaysia recognised Kosovo as an independent state. Malaysia's decision has harmed relations between the two countries and it no longer appears likely that any bilateral agreements will be signed.
Diplomatic relations were established in 1958. Sweden has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Stockholm. As of 2009, 90 Swedish companies are present in Malaysia and about 450 Swedish citizens live in Malaysia.
Switzerland has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Bern.
United Kingdom has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has a high commission in London. Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
Malaysia has an embassy in Brasília while Brazil has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Canada has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has a high commission in Ottawa. Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Canada's trade relationship with Malaysia includes commerce across several sectors.
|Colombia||19 August 1987||
Ambassador of Colombia in Malaysia also accredited to East Timor, Thailand and Vietnam, while Malaysian Embassy in Lima, Peru, accredited to Colombia. Both are the members of United Nations, Movement of Non-Aligned Cooperation Forum Asia-Latin America (FEALAC) and Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC).
|Cuba||6 February 1975||
Malaysia has an embassy in Havana while Cuba has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
In a speech by Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail, the Raja Muda of Perlis in the opening of Peru art exhibition at Universiti Malaysia Perlis on 15 October 2012, he called for the promotion of Malaysia-Peru relations in all sectors, including tourism, trade and investment, agriculture and forestry, health, science and technology, energy, education, rural development, poverty alleviation, gastronomy, and art and culture.
Economic ties are robust. The United States is Malaysia's largest trading partner and Malaysia is the tenth-largest trading partner of the U.S. Annual two-way trade amounts to $49 billion. The United States and Malaysia launched negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in June 2006.
Malaysia is represented in Uruguay through its embassy in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and through an honorary consulate in Montevideo. Uruguay had an embassy in Kuala Lumpur but it closed in 2002 due to economic reasons. Both countries are full members of the Group of 77. In November 2007, Uruguay's President Tabaré Vázquez visited Malaysia and lead a delegation of 50 people from Uruguay. During this visit, a joint communique was issued, saying that the two countries could strengthen their cooperation in the field of peacekeeping training. Uruguay's main exports to Malaysia are beef and leather. In 2001, bilateral trade was worth about US$40 million. This fell to RM96.1 million (approximately US$27million) in 2006.
Uruguayan President Dr Tabaré Vázquez Rosas was in Malaysia for state visit from 14–18 November 2007.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
Mauritius has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur, while Malaysia embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe also accredited to Mauritius. Both are members of Commonwealth of Nations. Cooperation between the two countries include cultural exchanges, trade in goods, financial assistances and capacity building in various sectors.
The High Commissioner of Nigeria, Bello Shehu Ringim, speaking with the Yang Dipertua Dewan Negara, Abu Zahar Ujang, expresses the concern of Nigerian students being fooled by Malaysian private-owned universities and social problems. The Nigerian government are serious about the problems by its citizens and the negative perception of its students. Malaysia is committed to Nigeria's concern and will give solutions to the problem.
|South Africa||8 November 1993||
Relations are good between Malaysia and South Africa, who view each other as close partners. Malaysia is the fourth largest new investor in South Africa, and the countries have exchanged High Commissions.
The stability of Sudan has enabled the country to take experiences from Malaysia in law legislation and investor-friendly policies, as claimed by Mahathir Mohammad, former prime minister of Malaysia who visits Khartoum in November 2012. At least seven Memorandum of Understandings have been made, related to Malaysian companies. The expected growth of bilateral trade between Malaysia and Sudan will have a big impact on the import of Sudanese beef.
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