KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Australia has designated Malaysia as the ‘focus country’ for 2020 as part of the 65th anniversary celebration of Australia’s diplomatic presence in Malaysia, said Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski.
The envoy said every year, Australia chooses one country “on which to focus its diplomatic and public affairs attention” — and this year it’s Malaysia.
“The programme is called ‘Australia now’ and you will, in the coming weeks and months, be hearing much more about the programme; but we’re very excited,” he said in his speech during the Australia Day 2020 reception hosted by the Australian High Commission in Malaysia on Wednesday.
Works Minister Baru Bian was the event’s guest of honour, and attendees included other foreign diplomats and Australian nationals living in Malaysia.
“So from Australia to Malaysia, we are incredibly grateful for everything that’s been said and done and offered from Malaysia. But if I have one message from Australia, it’s this: Australia is open for business, and we look forward to having Malaysians visit us again as soon as possible. Continue to send your kids to Australian schools, continue to invest in Australia, continue to trade with Australia, and visit as often as possible,” he further said, receiving thunderous applause from the attendees.
Commenting on the achievements in 2019, Goledzinowski said 2019 was an extraordinary year in the Canberra-Kuala Lumpur relationship.
“According to our calculations, we collaborated on more projects, across more issues, and at a higher level than we ever have before with Malaysia.
“The good news is 2020 will be an even bigger year. This is the year of APEC for Malaysia — which means not just a Summit meeting, but a cascade of ministerial engagements throughout the year. It’s the year of ‘Visit Malaysia 2020’ — and I’ve said in the past that it’s my personal aim that we get the number of Australians visiting Malaysia from 400,000 to half a million per year,” he explained.
Goledzinowski said while 2020 didn’t start well for Australia due to floods in Brisbane and much of Queensland as well as dust storms in New South Wales and the bushfires, the envoy — along with his colleagues — were heartened with the expressions of sympathy, encouragement, and offers of practical assistance by Malaysians during the ongoing bushfire crisis.
“And in fact, there are people in the audience here tonight from agencies in Malaysia who are now working with our Australian counterparts to work out exactly what sort of assistance might be available and how we might take advantage of it,” he said.
He said the Australian government has announced (an) AU$2 billion (RM5.6 billion) recovery plan, which is already underway.
“The other thing you’ll learn in crisis is how resilient you are. And it seems that we Australians are very resilient. Communities have come together in extraordinary ways, which is terrific,” he said. — Bernama