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MALAYSIA’S DECISION TO BRING HOME NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF AND FAMILY MEMBERS FROM ITS DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS IN CHINA
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs refers to media reports citing the press conference by YB Foreign Minister Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah on 5 February 2020 about the Malaysian Cabinet’s decision to bring home non-essential staff and family members from the Malaysian diplomatic missions in China.
The Ministry regrets that several of those reports had not accurately reflected the right context in which the Cabinet decision intended, despite the explanation given during the press conference. The Ministry herein wishes to provide clarifications to avoid further unnecessary misunderstanding:
First, the Cabinet decision was made as part of the Malaysian Government’s state of preparedness in its response to the 2019-nCoV epidemic, and eventually to minimise risks of exposure of Malaysian staff and their family members to the novel coronavirus. This is certainly expected of any responsible government faced with crisis situation resulting from man-made or natural disasters. It was within this context as well that the repatriation of Malaysians from Wuhan was successfully undertaken recently with the full cooperation from the relevant authorities in the People’s Republic of China.
In the same spirit, the Malaysian Government may also have to advise other Malaysians to return voluntarily should the situation warrant them to do so, while being mindful of the determined efforts of the authorities of China to contain and overcome the epidemic. Regardless of any circumstances, the Malaysian diplomatic missions in China will continue their operations to provide consular assistance to Malaysians and also to continue their close collaboration with the authorities of the host country.
Second, any efforts by the Malaysian Government will be carried out in close consultation with and cooperation from the Government of the People’s Republic of China. YB Foreign Minister Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah and His Excellency State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi held a telephone call on 1 February 2020. This close contact will continue to be maintained given the long-standing and very strong ties and partnership between the two countries.
Third, repatriation of Malaysians should never be regarded as anything beyond what it is actually intended namely, the Government’s intention to ensure the welfare of Malaysians. Malaysia has stood and will continue to stand in solidarity with the Government and people of China. Malaysia has every confidence in their preparedness, resilience and ability to respond effectively to and overcome the current epidemic. This sentiment too was shared during the telephone call between the two Foreign Ministers.
The Ministry underscores that Malaysia until now still keeps its doors open to our visitors from China when many other countries have done otherwise. The only exception is for those from Wuhan and surrounding areas which have been known as the epicentre of the 2019-nCoV outbreak.
7 February 2020