New foreign policy framework sets clear direction for Malaysia

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic credit: Ismail Sabri Yaakob FB

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (picture) launched the Focus In Continuity: A Framework For Malaysia’s Foreign Policy In A Post-Pandemic World today at the Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur to mark the launch of the ministry’s new strategic plan.

The PM said the country’s foreign policy must be guided by the principle of “focus in continuity,” stressing the importance of maintaining the current momentum of reform and progress whilst also taking into account the impact of the pandemic.

“I am confident that the Framework, being a pragmatic and holistic living document, will pave the path for Malaysia to emerge stronger and more resilient than before the pandemic, while at the same time allowing us to become an active and dynamic member of the international community,” he said in his speech during the launch of the framework yesterday.

“As for Malaysia, we are at an inflection point and it is critical to set clear directions to move towards a collective future – for the sake of our Keluarga Malaysia.”

He added the focus in continuity approach was designed to ensure the country’s foreign policy remained relevant and effective as it moved forward.

The drafting process of this Framework has involved the mobilisation of ideas, efforts, and energy of various parties, including ministries and government agencies, CCFP members, members of Parliament, as well as representatives from academia, business, and civil society.

This approach is in line with the open and consultative approach (syura), which supports the approach adopted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the process of formulating and conducting foreign policy.

The Framework has recognised key challenges that are plaguing us and the world in general and has managed to identify numerous emerging global trends as well as issues that should be given the utmost priority in the immediate term.

The first focus is to revitalise Malaysia’s links to the global economy by focusing on establishing close cooperation with other countries on an international platform.

Secondly, pursue health diplomacy beyond the mere act of receiving or donating vaccines and other medical equipment. This would require Malaysia to be directly involved in the manufacturing and managing of the vaccine supply chain worldwide.

Thirdly, develop our digital economy, which is one of Malaysia’s pivotal drivers for economic growth.

Fourth, shape international cybersecurity norms and laws to protect Malaysia’s national interests.

Fifth, place emphasis on cultural diplomacy to enhance Malaysia’s unique national identity on the global stage while simultaneously promoting greater market access to Malaysian cultural products.

Sixth, promote peaceful coexistence between nations and people of different faiths, religions, and cultures, as well as uphold multilateralism. We believe that diversity, if accompanied by respect and mutual understanding, is a powerful tool to navigate our way towards a successful global recovery.

And finally, strive to enhance Malaysia’s undivided attention and commitment to achieve the goals laid out in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Meanwhile, the Framework’s “Continuity” sub-theme serves as a clear nexus to the enduring principles of our foreign policy. Its clear pronouncement will serve as a reminder and guidance to all Malaysian foreign affairs practitioners that, regardless of the evolving regional and international architecture, the cardinal principles of Malaysia’s foreign policy will remain consistent and unchanged.

“Malaysia is a nation that subscribes to the strong belief of peaceful coexistence between nations. We will always favour the peaceful resolution of disputes over the display of military might,” Ismail Sabri elaborated.

“Hence, Malaysia will continue to pursue a pragmatic, independent, principled, and non-aligned foreign policy which revolves around the values of peace, justice, and equality. We will continuously respect other nations’ independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and advocate the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”

But he stressed that Malaysia will not hesitate to voice its concerns when it sees fit.

“Malaysia will not hesitate to voice our opinions, objections, or reservations against callous and cruel acts of oppression, injustice, and inhumanity,” the PM said.