MALAYSIA'S FOREIGN POLICY
MALAYSIA'S FOREIGN POLICY


 

FOREIGN POLICY OVERVIEW

 

1.                  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Wisma Putra as it is commonly known has been mandated to pursue the nation’s foreign policy in accordance with the Federal Constitution of Malaysia with the objective of protecting and promoting the nation’s interest at the international level.

 

2.         Malaysia’s foreign policy is premised on establishing close and friendly relations with countries in the community of nations.  It will continue to respect the internal affairs of other nations and advocate a policy of non-interference recognizing the sovereignty of nations.

 

3.         Since Malaysia’s independence in 1957 till today, the vision of our foreign policy remains consistent that is to safeguard Malaysia’s national interests as well as contribute towards a just and equitable community of nations.  This is achieved through upholding the country’s sovereignty and promoting universal peace; fostering friendly relations with foreign countries and protecting Malaysia’s interests in the regional and international arena.  In other words, Malaysia will continue to consolidate its relations with other countries and international organisations, both at the regional and international level.

 

4.         In line with our objectives of promoting and protecting Malaysian national interest abroad, the Ministry has established a total of 105 missions in 83 countries and appointed 53 Honorary Consuls who provide support and assistance in promoting Malaysia’s interest abroad.

 

 

5.         Since the independence of Malaya in 1957, the nation’s foreign policy has gone through several phases of significant transition with different emphases under five previous premierships.  The policy has been largely determined by the established national characteristics and succession of political leadership as well as by the dynamic regional and international environment.

 

 

6.         Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia held a markedly anti-Communist and pro-Western posture as the era saw the country threatened by the Communist insurgency.  The foreign policy during Tunku’s time had to take into consideration the bipolar power struggle between opposing ideas of democracy and communism.

 

 

7.         Under the stewardship of Malaysia’s second premier Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s foreign policy began to shift towards non-alignment and internationalism with Malaysia joining the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

 

 

8.         A period of consolidation ensued under Tun Hussein Onn with ASEAN becoming the cornerstone of Malaysia's foreign policy following the collapse of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975, the withdrawal of the US military presence from Southeast Asia and the invasion of Kampuchea (now Cambodia) by Vietnam.

 

 

9.         During the premiership of Tun Dr. Mahathir in 1981, Malaysia began opening its doors to foster relations with more nations and became a symbol of a rising developing country.  Under Tun Mahathir’s tenure, the nation’s foreign policy began adopting a much greater economic orientation in the country’s external relations while championing the rights, interests and aspirations of developing countries.  This approach led to the advocacy of the South-South Cooperation, a more proactive role in the G-77, the establishment of the G-15 and saw the ‘Look East Policy’ being instituted.  This shift to the East greatly influenced Malaysia’s economic development.  Malaysia became the voice of the developing world and was a role model for many developing countries as it become well known for its active stance at the UN and other international conferences.  Malaysia’s participation in peacekeeping missions under the UN is also a testimony of the nation’s seriousness in instilling the will of the international community.  Since 1960, Malaysia has committed troops to Republic of Congo, Bosnia Herzegovina, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Western Sahara, Iraq, Timor Leste and Lebanon.

 

 

10.       The fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi continued to ensure that Malaysia was active in the international arena.  During his tenure, Malaysia played an instrumental role in the formulation and adoption of the ASEAN Charter which has been ratified by all ASEAN member states and subsequently entered into force on 15th December 2008. 

 

 

11.       During this period, Malaysia was also active in expanding the focus of OIC from being an organisation focused solely on political issues into one which focuses on the socio-economic development of Islamic countries.  The Islam Hadhari concept which promotes a form of civilisational Islam was also introduced by Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and was accepted and recognised by the OIC member states at the 3rd Special Summit of OIC at Makkah in December 2005.

 

 

12.       Under the leadership of Prime Minister YAB Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak, Malaysia will continue to project a forward-looking and pragmatic foreign policy whilst continuing to facilitate trade, attract foreign investment as well as project Malaysia as a stable and peaceful country. Upon taking office in April 2009, the Prime Minister also stressed that Malaysia’s foreign policy under his administration would be shaped significantly by the 1Malaysia: People First, Performance Now concept. 

 

 

13.       Among the key elements of the 1Malaysia concept is in realising the strength of Malaysia lies in its diversity.  This concept bodes well with the main vision of Malaysia’s Foreign Policy that is to protect and promote interests abroad and at the same time responsibly and effectively contribute towards the building of a fair and just world.  Dato' Sri Najib believes that the interconnectedness of nations in the world means that Malaysia would benefit in applying 1Malaysia in its efforts in diplomacy and foreign relations.

 

 

14.       Synonymous with the 1Malaysia concept, Malaysia will continue to maintain close relations with all countries in the world and will continue to work with like-minded nations in pursuing national interest.

 

 

15.       YAB PM also introduced the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) that identified Key Results Area (KRAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the Ministry as a promise of commitment by the Government to the rakyat.  In line with this, the Ministry has identified 14 Key Performance Indicators to measure the success of the Ministry.

 

 

16.       The KRAs of the Ministry are as follows:

a.      Protection and promotion of Malaysia’s interests bilaterally, regionally and internationally through proactive diplomacy;

b.      Realisation of an ASEAN Community by 2015 via the ASEAN Political Security Community Blueprint, ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint and ASEAN Social Cultural Blueprint;

c.      Enhancing Malaysia’s standing in the international community particularly in the framework of 1Malaysia in an ever changing geopolitical scenario; and

d.      Provision of prompt and effective services locally and abroad.

 

 

17.       Malaysia has also maintained excellent relations with other countries, bilaterally and multilaterally through existing regional and international mechanisms of ASEAN, UN and other organisations which we are a member of.

 

18.       Malaysia’s foreign policy is structured upon a framework of bilateralism, regionalism and multilateralism where its outreach is likening to a pattern of concentric circles.  ASEAN forms the core priority of Malaysia’s current foreign policy, in consideration of our neighbours as our closest allies.  Looking further a field, as a country with a strong Muslim majority, Malaysia also gives importance to the solidarity of the Ummah and the spirit of cooperation among the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).  Malaysia’s status as a developing nation makes it imperative for the country to engage actively in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Commonwealth, Group of Seventy Seven (G77), Developing Eight (D8), Asia Middle East Dialogue (AMED), Far East Asia Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).  No less important is the country’s continued active participation in the Commonwealth, the United Nations and other international organisations. 

 

19.       Through these organisations, Malaysia has sought to promote the South-South Cooperation among the developing countries and the Muslim world.  Malaysia also advocates the “Prosper thy neighbour” policy to enhance economic relations and cooperation with its neighbouring countries through Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Phillippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMTGT) and other entities.

 

 

20.       Malaysia will continue to play a significant role in the various multilateral issues that affect our interests.  These issues include disarmament, counter terrorism, trafficking in persons, climate change and environmental issues.   As a member of the UN, Malaysia is a firm believer of international peace and security and an upholder of international law. 

 

 

21.       Malaysia’s election as the President of United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for 2010 and the Chairmanship of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were a further testimony of Malaysia’s positive international image.

 

 

22.       Malaysia will also continue to engage with like-minded nations, both in the region and beyond in ensuring its sovereignty and economic well being are preserved and protected.  Malaysia will continue with the principles of engagement and cooperation rather than isolationism and unilateral action. 

 

 

23.       Trade and investment opportunities will continue to be explored with our traditional trading partners and at the same time to develop strategic partnerships for trade and investment with countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and other parts of Asia.

 

 

24.       In the decade leading up to 2020, Malaysia would have to deal with great changes in the global environment whilst improving and upgrading the country’s domestic conditions.  In recognising this challenge, it is vital that Malaysia’s foreign policy continues to focus on protecting national interests while responsibly and effectively contributing towards the building of a fair and just world.

 

 

25.       The fundamental principles of sovereign equality, mutual respect for territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes as well as mutual benefit in relations are the guiding principles that would continue to guide Malaysia’s relations with other countries.   These principles have stood the test of time. Indeed, our steadfast adherence to these principles, supported by a consistent foreign policy, has established for Malaysia a credible image in the eyes of the international community.

 

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