YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Ahmad Fuzi bin Abdul Razak
Patron for the Malaysia-China Inter-Cultural Art Exhibition 2017
YBhg. Dato’ Haji Mokthar Samad
Advisor of the Malaysia-China Inter-Cultural Art Exhibition 2017
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today to officiate the opening ceremony of the inaugural art exhibition themed “Malaysia-China Inter-Cultural Art Exhibition 2017”. I would like to applaud the Malaysia-China Culture Association for organizing such an important event in the realm of arts and culture.
Bilateral Trade and Investment Relations
Malaysia is a trading nation and our historical trading activities can be traced back to the Malacca Sultanate. Melaka was an important entrepôt of the region then. Malaysia has come a long way since — from an economy based on tin mining to agriculture and now at the peak of industrialization.
Historical records posit that Admiral Cheng Ho visited melaka five times out of the seven voyages out of China. During the visits, there were exchanges of gold, silver, porcelain, and silk. Therefore China is certainly not a new trade partner for Malaysia. Now, let’s look at the current bilateral trade numbers — China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for the past 8 consecutive years (since 2009).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 2016, Malaysia was China’s 7th largest global trading partner and the 2nd largest trading partner among ASEAN member states. Trade with China accounted for 16.2% of Malaysia's total trade, amounting to RM240.91 billion, an increase of 4.4% from 2015.
In terms of investment, 33 manufacturing projects with participation from China were approved with investments totaling RM4.7 billion in 2016. These projects are expected to create a total of 10,147 jobs. For the first time, China was the top foreign investor in terms of approved investments in the manufacturing sector in Malaysia last year, a result of the growing trends in the past years. Significant projects from China include those in the steel, non-metallic mineral and solar industries.
Belt and Road Initiative
Ladies and Gentlemen,
President Xi Jinping announced China’s Belt and Road Initiative in late 2013. Malaysia had expressed support from the onset and signed the Belt and Road Initiative MoU in conjunction with the inaugural Belt and Road for International Cooperation Forum on 13 May 2017 in Beijing.
But how would the Belt and Road Initiative benefit Malaysia? What is there for the arts and cultural segment?
One of the main goals of the Belt and Road Initiative is the “People-to-People Bond”. It is noteworthy that after all, our engagement transcends trade; we are very much connected by culture and history. The Malaysian Chinese community forms a very strong bond between our two countries. Chinese Malaysians are a crucial part of our unique diversity, and their cultures and faiths have helped to make the rich and varied tapestry of our Nation.
The “People-to-People Bond” is also strengthened in the field of education. Malaysia and China have established Xiamen Malaysia University (XMU) in Malaysia, the first university from China set up in a foreign land. The university campus which is located in Salak Tinggi, Selangor is a focal point where Malaysian and Chinese students from China pursue their tertiary education in various fields. This is where exchanges of ideas and new friendship bonds are created.
Leveraging on Malaysia’s Multiculturalism
Ladies and gentlemen,
Coming back to the local arts and culture, Malaysia is a good example of a multicultural society, albeit with different acculturation ideologies. Both countries have three main ethnic groups but in diametrically opposite proportion. In Malaysia, 50.4% of the populations are Malays, 23.7% Chinese, 11% indigenous peoples from Sabah and Sarawak, 7.1% Indians and 7.8% other races. These numbers will give you a general picture of the demography and richness of the culture in Malaysia
Art and music have a long tradition in Malaysia, with Malay art dating back to the Malay sultanates with traditional art centered on fields such as carving, silversmith and weaving. We have Javanese immigrants who brought Kuda Kepang to Johor and is a form of dance where dancers sit on mock horses and tell the tales of Islamic wars. The Chinese community brought traditional lion dances and dragon dances with them, while Indians brought art forms such as Bharata Natyam and Bhangra.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There are many opportunities to be tapped in the field of art and culture – therefore I hope artisans from both Malaysia and China can foster closer ties and explore new opportunities to work together. Let me read to you a Malay proverb:
“Laut Dalam Dapat Di Duga, Hati Manusia Siapa Yang Tahu…”
This proverb summarizes that it is difficult to understand what others feel, but one must always try. Therefore I urge artists from both Malaysia and China to express your ideas and spread the cultures of our nations. I believe your creations will inspire the people of Malaysia and China, and thus strengthen our friendship.