KUALA LUMPUR, 20 NOV – Sports has been a symbol of unity, hope and solidarity for the people of South Africa, who have faced many challenges.
South African High Commissioner David Evan Malcomson spoke on how the recent triumph by the Springboks at the ‘2023 Rugby World Cup’ in France had proven that it was more than just sports, as a unifying factor.
Likewise, he said that the strong 30 years of diplomatic ties with Malaysia was equally a cause for celebration of the long historical heritage and solidarity shared.
“It is also a celebration of the 29 years of freedom enjoyed by all South Africans.
“Although we have enjoyed 30 years of diplomatic relations with Malaysia, our ties go back much further to the 17th and 18th centuries when the Dutch brought people from the Malay Archipelago to the Cape colony.
“Descendants of these people are today citizens of a democratic South Africa and have contributed to the cultural diversity, success and development of our country.
“The Cape Malay community have the most direct links in terms of religion cuisine, traditions and language.
“Words like blatjan (belachan for shrimp paste) and piesang (pisang for banana) are just some of them,” said Malcomson at a reception to celebrate the ‘30th anniversary of Malaysia-South Africa diplomatic relations’ at the Chef Ismail Rebung Restaurant at Taman Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur.
Present was guest-of-honour Malaysian Foreign Ministry deputy secretary-general (multilateral affairs) Datuk Bala Chandran Tharman, who was the former ambassador to Russia and Belarus.
Malcomson said that Islam was founder in South Africa as a direct result of the historic movement of the Cape Malay people.
He recounted how former South African President Nelson Mandela had remarked at a state banquet in Kuala Lumpur in March 1997: “History decreed that a segment of the Malaysian soul should reside in our country”.
Malcomson added that South Africa was ever thankful for the support Malaysia provided during the liberation struggle against apartheid.
“Malaysia and South Africa enjoyed a particularly vibrant and close relationship from 1994 to 2008.
“Following the global financial crisis, we began to lose strategic focus on each other for a variety of reasons.
“As a result, we have committed ourselves to revitalising the bilateral relationship and ensuring that we once again bring a strategic focus to bear on our relationship,” Malcomson said, adding that Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were working towards that direction.
He indicated that there was a turnaround of doubled trade between both countries last year and it appeared to repeat this year, based on the mid-term trade figures.
“Many mutually beneficial opportunities exist between us politically, economically and socially particularly with regard to the halal sector and the provision of food at high quality and competitive prices.
“Further opportunities exist in science, technology and innovation like in green hydrogen, and the defence sector.
“For Malaysia, South Africa and Africa provide new opportunities from the collective 1.2 billion population under the united ‘African Continental Free Trade Agreement’,” said Malcomson.
He added that within that population were more than 500 million muslims.
The trade and investment opportunities in both directions, he said, should be obvious, particularly as Africa was the future of global food security, had a young and vibrant population and had vast minerals essential for the new era of technology and renewable energy.
“Our two countries share many similarities politically, economically and socially.
“Both countries find unity in a diversity of races, religions, languages and cultures.
“We share many similarities with Malaysia in terms of our approach to what is needed to make the global governance system more inclusive, equitable and representative.
“We share common needs and concerns as countries of the south,” he said.
Malcomson added that the Covid-19 pandemic and recent geo-political developments had brought into sharper focus than ever before the urgent need to cooperate on issues of common global concern, such as food and energy security, diversified supply chains, health systems and responses, cyber threats, climate change and the Palestine issue.
Malcomson said that institutions like the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the Commonwealth and even Asean were ideal avenues for cooperation.
“For these and many other reasons, out future together is bright.
“May the next 30 years and more see our relationship grow from strength to strength,” Malcomson said.
He quoted President Mandela who had said in Malaysia in March 1997: “Many, many things make the common bond between us a natural one. In your company we feel we are among brothers and sisters – friends in need and friends indeed”. – airtimes.my
#AirTimes #Malaysia #Semasa