Malaysia, South Korea aim to deepen ties

Dr M says there is room for cooperation in many fields between the 2 countries


Malaysia and South Korea inked four collaborative agreements yesterday, as both countries aim to elevate bilateral ties aided by the improving peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.

The Korean Peninsula stability and Malaysia-South Korea ties were among issues discussed between Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a bilateral meeting held in Perdana Putra in Putrajaya, yesterday.

Both leaders also witnessed the signing of four memoranda of understanding including an industrial cooperation between the government and South Korean Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Collaborations in the field of transport, smart city development and halal industry promotion were also inked yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia hopes the South Korea-North Korea ties to improve in coming years.

“We also hope an agreement will be reached between the US and North Korea on disarmament.

“We then expect to see peace and stability in this part of the world,” he said, flanked by Moon.

Dr Mahathir said both countries intend to explore cooperation in industrialisation and the halal food industry.

“(South) Korea wants to comply with the needs of Muslim travellers and also to ensure that its products meet halal conditions,” the PM said.

Dr Mahathir also said Malaysia is keen to keep sending students to South Korea to enable them to follow the developments in that country, especially in the fields of engineering, information technology and new technologies.

He noted that South Korea has begun its industrialisation process by manufacturing cars, something which Malaysia also ventured into.

“Look at where they are today. We are very impressed indeed. We also started with the car, but we have not done as well as Korea,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said there is room for cooperation in many fields between the two countries in continuing Malaysia’s “Look East” policy of emulating work techniques and ethics.

Moon arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday for a three-day working visit, the first Korean leader to visit Malaysia since former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s official visit in December 2010.

Earlier yesterday, Moon was accorded a state welcome at the Parliament Square. Moon and wife Kim Jung-sook arrived at 10.08am and were received by Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

Also present were Dr Mahathir and wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, as well as Cabinet ministers.

Moon received a 21-gun salute and inspected the royal guard-of-honour mounted by the 1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment.

Moon is the first foreign head of state to be hosted by Sultan Abdullah since his ascension to the throne on Jan 31, 2018.

In 2018, bilateral trade between Malaysia and South Korea recorded an increase of 7.2% to reach US$17.98 billion (RM72.6 billion) compared to US$15.76 billion (RM67.71 billion) in 2017.

South Korea was Malaysia’s eighth-largest trading partner globally and the 13th-largest foreign direct investment source, while Malaysia was South Korea’s 14th-largest trading partner in 2018. — TMR