MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MALAYSIA
Diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Republic of Poland were established in 1971. The first three officers from Malaysia arrived in Warsaw on October 24, 1977. They are Mr. John Tenewi Nuek (Second Secretary), Mr. Fong Weng Poh (Third Secretary) and Mr. Shanmuganathan Palani (Personal Assistant). In 1978, the first Ambassador of Malaysia, Amb. Razali bin Ismail presented his credentials. On 4 November 1978, the Malaysian Embassy in Warsaw was established, the second to be set-up in the then Eastern Block countries, after Moscow in the Soviet Union. Fast forward to today, bilateral relations between Malaysia and Poland have risen to new heights of developments.
Ever since the end of the Cold War and more recently, with the accession of Poland into the European Union on 1 May 2004, the political ties have never been stronger, while relations in the economic and trade fields continued to demonstrate significant growth. Relations have also broadened into non-traditional areas, such as education and sports. Some of this success, no doubt, could not have come through if not for the contribution of the men and women who have served at the Malaysian Embassy in Warsaw for these past three decades.
The Embassy started its functioning at the Forum Hotel (now-Novotel Hotel) on the 15th floor. Then it was moved to Rejtana Street No. 15 in Mokotow area. The current Chancery is located at No. 3, Gruzinska Str, Saska Kepa, one of the diplomatic enclaves of Warsaw. Several other embassies are situated in the area, such as the Brazilian, Colombian, Indonesian, Iraqi, Portuguese and Turkish embassies. The Chancery is about 10 minutes drive from the Warsaw city centre and 15 minutes drive from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The building itself is a charmingly renovated two storey villa and is leased from the Polish Diplomatic Services Agency since 14 January 1985.
The Government of Malaysia has purchased a plot of land at Szwolezerow 1 Street, land area of 9,837 sqm. The land is leased with legal title perpetual usufruct until 2097. The Minister of Foreign Minister, YB Dato' Sri Anifah Aman had made a working visit on 9 April 2016 and has agreed for the development of new Chancery building to take place in the current year.
Bilateral Relations: Malaysia-Poland
Malaysia and Poland maintained warm and cordial relations throughout 2016. Both countries also continue to share similar views on a number of international issues of common interests notably on UN reforms, global peace, globalization including trade, environment and security while steadily deepening cooperation at the international fora. Poland supported Malaysia for the UNSC 2015-2016 and both countries have agreed on a QPQ arrangements whereby Malaysia will reciprocate the support by voting for Poland for its UNSC bid for 2018-2019.
Exchange of Visits
In 2016, Poland received three Ministerial level visits from Malaysia namely the working visits of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in April 2016, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development in June 2016 and the President of the Senate in September 2016. Malaysia only received one Ministerial level visit from Poland which was the working visit of the Deputy Minister of Defence of Poland in August 2016. The Deputy Minister accompanied by senior officials of the Polish Defence Holding/Polski Holding Obranny (PHO) and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa/Polish Armaments Group (PGZT), met his counterpart, YB Datuk Seri Johari Baharum, Deputy Minister of Defence Malaysia at MINDEF.
Trade and Investment
The total bilateral trade between Malaysia and Poland from January to November 2016 shrunk by 14% to RM 1.76 billion from RM 2.04 billion registered in the corresponding period of 2015. The decrease in the trade volume was attributed to the sharp decline of demand for photovoltaic cells for solar sector in Poland compared to 2015. This phenomenon happened due to the strategy of the Polish government to continue to depend on traditional energy sources, like coal. The government is giving emphasis on the coal sector, as both the energy and coal industry will remain under state controlled until 2020.
Malaysia’s total exports declined significantly by 23.2% to RM 1.08 billion in the period of Jan-Nov 2016 compared with RM 1.41 billion the same period in the previous year. Malaysia’s main export items were from the manufactured goods category namely electrical and electronic products, rubber products, machinery, equipment and parts, chemicals and chemicals products and manufactures of metal. Imports to Malaysia from Poland grew by 6.3% to RM 677.7 million from RM 637.4 million. Main import items from Poland were manufactures of metal, transport equipment and electrical and electronic products. Trade balance was in favor of Malaysia in the period of January to November 2016. The trade surplus stood at RM 401.6 million, declined by 47.7% compared to the same period in 2015.
In terms of investment, Poland is not a major source of FDI to Malaysia. Based on records, there is only one investment project by the Polski Holdings Sdn. Bhd with a total investment of about RM 1.6 million. The main activities of the company are supplying construction handling transport, defence equipment and machinery materials.
Overview – Poland
The year 2016 saw Poland’s new administration under the leadership of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party being evaluated with a mixed bag of praise and criticism. The PiS government took various bold and controversial decisions in revamping the ‘old’ system practiced by its predecessor the Civic Platform party. The most contentious decision taken by the PiS was on the governing of the Tribunal Constitution, which was opposed by the European Commission leading to the criticism and recommendations by the Venice Commission, which advises on constitutional law. Disapproval and outrage on the government’s policies did not only come from the international community but also from the general public in the country. The proposed anti-abortion law was slammed profusely and finally defeated following a major protest by the left-liberal opponents. Despite criticism and bad reputation that emerged as consequences of the current government’s decision-making, PiS is still the preferred choice in terms of poll ratings as the opposition remains divided, conflicted and unable to come up with an alternative vision for the country.
The country’s economic policies received an equal amount of skepticism and optimism. Despite a weaker economic growth in 2016, PiS’s welfare programme namely the Family 500+ was welcomed by the general public and managed to boost the income of Polish households and raised their consumption expenditure. However, it was also forecasted that the programme would further inflate Poland’s public debt. In the realm of foreign policy, the PiS government had been applauded for its success to project itself at the European forefront as well as at the international arena. The successful convening of the Warsaw NATO Summit in July 2016 and the subsequent deployment of the US troops in West Poland, had alleviated Poland’s position and importance in the Alliance as well as in the Eastern European region. That notwithstanding, there is a certain degree of doubt on how Poland’s relations with the US will unfold with the new US President’s visions and aspirations particularly on its priorities and relations with Russia.
As revised March 2017