Engage more with Europe to strengthen international influence, says Liew

by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA

MALAYSIA needs to increase its engagement with European countries through platforms such as international conferences in its efforts to re-emerge as one of the “Asian Tiger” economic powers.

Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong said discussions and collaborations by means of such conferences with the continent could contribute to the country’s regional and international relations, as well as a way to strengthen its influence in the spheres of politics, economy and culture.

Citing the two-day Asia-Europe Conference 2019 hosted by Universiti Malaya’s Asia-Europe Institute (AEI) which began yesterday, he said the inputs from the conference could pave way for Malaysia to strengthen its bilateral collaborations with Europe.

“Nowadays, people always talk and (get) threatened by the conflicts imposed by the rivalries between powers such as the US and China. Thus, we need more conversations and discussions about Europe and Asia in the new scenario that the world is in now.

“And our Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Asian Tiger aspiration and foreign policy have always been about ‘punching above our weight’. We are not a big country, but we have big visions in which we also have a big influence and voice in the world.

“With this conference, it is important for us to understand our position in this region and understanding other countries (in Europe, specifically), and increase our collaborations regionally.”

He told reporters after delivering his keynote address at the conference, themed “Europe in the New Asia: New Anxieties, New Constructs”.

Attended by more than 250 participants, the annual conference brought together experts from Europe and the Asian region to review Asia- Europe strategic relations.

Liew also said Kuala Lumpur has good potential to be the hub for experts from both Asia and Europe, specifically through regional institutions like AEI.

“I think…there is a need for Malaysia and the region to invest more in regional institutions and research centres, which extensively do in-depth studies about certain regions, to have a better understanding of the region and its environment.

“AEI is the leading example of this effort and this idea can be fulfilled. We (Malaysia) should have more other regional institutes, for example, involving the Middle Eastern countries,” he said.

Among distinguished speakers at the conference were former Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta, Japan’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa and American University (Washington DC) Prof Dr Amitav Acharya.