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Hopes and Aspirations for 21st century Malaysia

New York, April 16, 2010 - His Excellency Dato' Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, shared a renewed vision for a unified, peaceful, and economically competitive Malaysia, in his keynote address at Asia Society in New York.  During the event "A New Vision for Malaysia," hosted by Asia Society, in collaboration with the Kuala Lumpur Business Council, Prime Minister Najib discussed Malaysia's hopes and aspirations in the 21st century. 

Emphasizing his vision for Malaysia, he stressed that Malaysia's strength comes from diversity - just as it does in the case of the U.S.  "Over the years multi-ethnic Malaysia has flourished in many ways.  Chinese and Indian citizens are actively involved in Malaysian politics and leadership at all levels of society.  Our economy has developed a multi-ethnic middle class and we have grown in relative peace.  If one uses the incidence of ethnic violence as an index, Malaysia is undoubtedly one of the more successful multi-ethnic societies in the world."  Prime Minister Najib admitted that national unity remains a work in progress and it requires a change in mindsets among both political leaders and the people.

When discussing Malaysia's economic reforms, Prime Minister Najib pointed out that his government is focusing on empowering private companies and individuals to pursue profit, promoting equity ownership among the native Bumiputras, and opening up important service sectors for foreign ownership.  He also spoke about the necessity of reforming Malaysia's economic model in order to enhance Malaysian competitiveness in the changing global economy.  Prime Minister Najib explained that the new and reformed approach aims to use capital to increase productivity, stimulate innovation, and build a merit -based education system to reward excellence, rebalance the relationship between the private and public sectors, and implement fiscal reforms that broaden the tax base. 

Regarding U.S.-Malaysia relations, he said: "The rise of China and India is reshaping how we trade, invest, travel, entertain, consume, and relate to each other.  But I also recognize this: America is and will remain a dominant force in world affairs."  Prime Minister Najib acknowledged that he and President Obama share common ground on many challenges and that they have agreed to work together on multiple issues including trade liberalization, arms export controls, human trafficking, reconstruction in Afghanistan, and nuclear non-proliferation. 

He stated that this is a defining moment for Malaysia to succeed and to recognize the potential of a unified country.  "I am confident that with your [U.S.] support, renewed commitment, and understanding between our two countries, we can and will succeed."

Reported by Malgorzata Juszczak-Punwaney