2017 marks a significant milestone in the New Zealand-Malaysia relationship.It is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate 60 years of enduring diplomatic ties – although as many of you know our close ties go back even longer than that (to the New Zealanders who served during the Malayan Emergency).
New Zealand and Malaysia’s friendship is based on long-standing ties in trade, education, and defence.Underpinning these strong ties are our close people-to-people links.Many of these links had their genesis in education, as far back as the Colombo Plan in 1951.
The legacy of the Colombo Plan remains a key pillar of New Zealand’s relationship with Malaysia.By 1969, some 600 Malaysian students had graduated from New Zealand institutions after being awarded scholarships under the Colombo Plan.And today, around 2,000 students from Malaysia study in New Zealand each year.
These close personal ties between our two countries are incredibly important.They allow us to learn from one another, to work together, and for our two countries to prosper.
You all are a major part of these close ties and we are very lucky to have you as both supporters and ambassadors of New Zealand, and of the close relationship our two countries share.New Zealand greatly appreciates and values the contribution you all make to the New Zealand-Malaysia relationship.
We are also very proud of you.Your achievements, all many and varied in business, academia, and in the public sector, are impressive, and I know a credit to many years of hard work (and we hope – perhaps, just a little part – to your kiwi education as well).
I know many of you are still frequent visitors to New Zealand, and for those of you that have not been back recently, we look forward to seeing you on our shores sometime again soon.We also hope you have fond memories of your time as a student in New Zealand (whether at University or at School).I look forward to hearing some of the stories from your time studying in New Zealand over lunch today – well at least the stories you can share with us anyway!
It is a pleasure to meet you all, and thank you once again for your important contribution to the New Zealand-Malaysia relationship.