EAR 2023, which is already at the halfway point, marks the 40th anniversary of the Look East Policy.
Since assuming the role of ambassador last October, I have been making efforts to strengthen the strategic partnership between our two nations, in particular by revitalising high-level exchanges, which were somewhat impeded by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the Look East Policy was initiated in 1983, our two countries have forged special bonds and continuously nurtured the bilateral relationship through people-to-people exchanges and industrial cooperation.
It is high time that we steered towards a collaborative path, where the partnership goes beyond mere commercial transactions to much broader areas in a mutually beneficial manner.
In this regard, the visits by three Korean ministers to Malaysia in May have produced significant outcomes in national security, food security and defence security.
First, Foreign Minister Park Jin paid a visit here from May 1 to 2.
This was the first Asean country he visited since the South Korean government’s announcement of the Korea-Asean Solidarity Initiative late last year.
It also represented the first visit by a minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Korea in five years.
It was just for two days, but Park had a packed programme. This included a courtesy call on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, a two-hour-long meeting with Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, and opening remarks at the Hallyu exhibition in Balai Seni Negara.
However, the true highlight was his special lecture at Universiti Malaya, which served as a platform for engaging with Malaysia’s future leaders.
This event was organised from the belief that a true understanding of each other’s expectations and strengths forms the bedrock of mutually beneficial collaboration.
It presented an excellent opportunity for Malaysian students to deepen their understanding of Korea and the dynamics of the Korea-Malaysia relationship.
Collaborative efforts between the two nations are bearing fruit in a wide range of fields.
In the second week of May, the minister of agriculture affairs visited Malaysia, laying the foundation for the bolstering of food security through initiatives like smart farms.
On this occasion, the agriculture ministers of South Korea and Malaysia celebrated the first-ever export of Halal Hanwoo (Korean halal beef).
Malaysia is the first country that South Korea is exporting halal beef to, so Malaysian consumers can enjoy its perfect balance between marbling and beefy flavour.
Towards the end of May, the South Korean minister of national defence attended the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2023 (Lima ’23). He was joined by the country’s awe-inspiring aerobatic team, Black Eagles, and navy vessel Nojeokbong.
The presence and encouragement of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah himself added to the event’s grandeur. The Black Eagles captivated spectators with their exceptional piloting skills.
The Lima ’23 visit included a signing ceremony for the procurement of 18 FA-50 light combat aircraft.
It is important to note that the South Korean government works on defence cooperation from the perspective of bolstering Malaysia’s military capabilities, and is not limited to the simple sale of defence assets.
Consequently, the bilateral relationship transcends economic boundaries and extends to various sectors, such as agriculture and defence, yielding fruitful outcomes along the way.
Sedikit-sedikit, lama-lama menjadi bukit (little by little, over time, it becomes a mountain) — this is a Malay proverb that suggests the accumulation of small efforts leading to significant results.
Koreans also have similar old sayings emphasising the value of continuous efforts.
By keeping up the current momentum, we can look forward to another four decades of renewed co-prosperity. Korea will go together with Malaysia as kawan baik.
Source : NST