Philippines and Malaysia eye more ‘ups’ in ties

The two leaders also agreed to convene a joint commission meeting in October to sign memorandums of understanding on a number of priority agreements.


STATEWELCOME President Marcos stands with Sultan Abdullah of Malaysia outside the royal Istana Negara along with (from left) Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, first lady Liza Marcos, Queen Azizah Aminah, and Anwar’s physician-wife Wan Azizah. —REUTERS

July 27, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim pledged on Wednesday to build on the “historical bond, long-standing relations, and strong economic linkages” that make Filipino-Malaysian friendship “easy.”

The two leaders made the pledge after bilateral talks at Putrajaya, Malaysia’s official administrative complex. The talks focused on areas where the two neighboring countries already have strong cooperation.

“We do this so that our government agencies will have an avenue to discuss priority cooperation in detail, most especially in the areas of [fighting] transnational crimes, agriculture, halal industry, Islamic banking, education, tourism and culture, sports and the digital economy,” Marcos said in a media briefing.

Marcos arrived in the Malaysian capital for a three-day state visit on Wednesday and held official talks a day after meeting with the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur.

Like genuine friendships, Anwar said Malaysian-Philippine relations have had its ups and downs.

“[Sultan Abdullah] said to me today, that [President Marcos and I] share other personal experiences of ups and downs, and I joked there were more downs,” the Malaysian premier said.

Shared aspirations

“Now we’re here together, and this experience will certainly enhance understanding and collaboration,” Anwar said in his speech.

Earlier on Wednesday, Marcos was accorded a state welcome and luncheon at the Istana Negara, the royal residence of Malaysia’s elective monarch Sultan Abdullah.

“Bound by our shared aspirations of progress, peace and prosperity, our two countries share many commonalities and strong people-to-people ties … to this day, we have faced many common challenges, but we have also achieved much more together,” the sultan said during the luncheon.

The President and the sultan also planted in the palace grounds a “melinjau” tree (Gnetum gnemon), commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia as a “vegetable of high status” used in the traditional vegetable curry dish, known as “kuah pliek.”

Marcos and Anwar separately said they agreed to convene a joint commission meeting in October to sign memorandums of understanding on a number of priority agreements.

“Building on our bilateral relations, our governments commit to closely coordinate efforts to build capacity in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in the southern Philippines, in Muslim Mindanao, especially in sectors such as the halal industry, Islamic banking, and food security,” he said.

The Malaysian government has warmly offered its people’s expertise to train Philippine personnel and officials to strengthen our capabilities in these increasingly important sectors, Marcos said.

Malaysia was the 10th largest trading partner of the Philippines last year, with trade totaling $8.84 billion. In the same period, Malaysia ranked as the country’s 11th export destination and 9th import source valued at $2.46 billion and $6.38 billion, respectively.

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