Having now returned to Malaysia after visits to the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, I would like to reflect on all the exciting developments that have occurred on the international front recently.
My stopover in New York and Washington, DC, en route to the Commonwealth summit, was brief but fruitful.
In the Big Apple, I had meetings with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Steve Forbes, president of Forbes Inc., and Gene Daley, president of Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions.
I also briefed corporate leaders, fund managers and potential investors on Malaysia as a worthwhile investment destination.
The feedback that I received from the financial community was that, while our “Malaysian story” is attractive, we could do more to draw global investors to our capital markets. I have taken this message on board and will commit to making further economic reforms to strengthen our investment appeal.
Such changes, I am convinced, will mark the beginning of a new chapter of the “Malaysian story”, with economic relations between Malaysia and the US set to progress in a very constructive way.
Closer to home, recent visits by Presidents Hu Jintao and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of China and Indonesia, respectively, point to a brighter future in bilateral relations between our countries.
Five MoUs were signed with the Chinese premier, including pledges to cooperate more closely in higher education and financial sectors, and President Yudhoyono and I decided to work on strengthening linkages in areas such as tourism, the halal industry and Islamic finance.
At the APEC summit that followed in Singapore, I discussed potential Free Trade Agreements in bilateral meetings with President Michelle Bachelet Jeria of Chile and Australian PM Kevin Rudd.
In between these trips, I was very encouraged when I browsed through the responses to my Facebook page. My office and I will be looking into some programmes in due course to interact further with my newfound “friends”. I look forward to receiving your thoughts on any of these new commitments, and suggestions on what more could be done to strengthen Malaysia’s standing internationally. Meanwhile, I have work to catch up on!