KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is again in Britain for a brief working visit which will no doubt further cement the already strong British-Malaysian ties.
He was in London about 10 months ago when he met his counterpart, David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street, the latter’s office and official residence, and one of the most famous addresses in the United Kingdom.
And that meeting at “Number 10” led Cameron to making a reciprocal visit to Malaysia last month and was hosted to lunch by Najib at Seri Perdana, the official residence of the Malaysian prime minister, in Putrajaya.
While in Kuala Lumpur, Cameron also acknowledged Malaysia as “a great and long-standing friend of Britain” and even likened Britain’s ties with Malaysia as inseparable when he quoted the popular Malaysian proverb of “Bagai aur dengan tebing…like the bamboo and the river bank.”
Cameron would be pleased to know that Malaysia had amply demonstrated this friendship as it had acceded to his request that loss-making British sportscar maker Lotus be allowed to continue its production in Norfolk county.
Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil, group managing director of DRB-Hicom, had recently flown to Britain to give his pledge as the new owner of Lotus after the diversified group had bought over Proton, which owns the British sportscar maker.
There had been speculation that production could be moved abroad if DRB-Hicom were to sell the company to a buyer in China and that could affect about 1,200 jobs in Norfolk.
Now that the gloom over the possible loss of jobs has been lifted, the onus is now on Britain to honour its word on re-activating a 10 million pledge from a regional growth fund to support plans to develop four new Lotus models and create 1,000 new jobs at the Hethel plant, which had been put on hold until the future of Lotus was determined.
Last July, Najib brought several Cabinet ministers on his trip to London, which also saw various memoranda of understanding and agreements being signed.
That visit by Najib had no doubt provided the springboard for better relations.
And following Cameron’s meeting with Najib at Putrajaya, both leaders agreed to set a new target of doubling bilateral trade to 8 billion (RM39.11 billion by 2016 by forming a joint working group to look into this potential.
They also agreed to strengthen the partnership in education and skills training, including expanding Malaysians’ access to British universities and supporting Malaysia’s economic transformation with emphasis on vocational skills and research partnerships.
Some 14,000 Malaysians are now studying in the United Kingdom and more than 45,000 are studying in Malaysia for UK qualifications.
In addition, 150,000 Malaysians work for British companies, while Malaysia’s investment projects have created hundreds of new jobs in Britain over the last decade.
And Malaysians today also own some major British companies, including football clubs like Queens Park Rangers, which managed to stay in next season’s English Premier League (EPL), and Cardiff City Football Club, which again failed to win promotion to EPL for the 2012/13 season.
Britain is the third largest investor in Malaysia among European countries, after Germany and The Netherlands. Malaysia is Britain’s 35th largest trading partner for goods and 38th largest for services.
In 2010, total trade between Malaysia and Britain stood at over RM13 billion.
While in London, Najib is also to witness Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGVH), the soon-to-be-listed entity, entering into a strategic parnership with two British commodity firms.
This again will help put British-Malaysian business ties on a stronger footing. FGVH, the commercial arm of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), is Malaysia’s biggest palm oil producer.
It is estimated to account for 18 per cent of Malaysia’s palm oil output, which stood at about 18.9 million tonnes last year.
Source : Bernama