Reply to the toast by Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, 2 September 2003

Your Majesty, Yang di-Pertuan Agong,
Your Majesty, Raja Permausuri Agong,
Your Excellency, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad,
Your Excellency, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen:

My wife, our delegation and I are truly delighted to be back in this beautiful country, Malaysia, and thank Your Majesties for you invitation to us to come on and official visit. We also bring the warmest greetings of the government and the people of South Africa to Your Majesties, to the Prime Minister, the government and the people of Malaysia. We are please to congratulate you on your recent celebrations of the 46th Merdeka Day anniversary.

We are here once more to thank Your Majesties, the government and people of Malaysia for everything you have done for the liberation and upliftment of you people. You stood side by side with us during the difficult struggle against apartheid. Your own independence became a firm foundation for our own advance to freedom and democracy. For this, we owe you a permanent debt of gratitude.

Since our liberation, 9 years ago, our countries and peoples have grown even closer together, through increased trade, investment and co-operation in other fields, including the important area of human resource development.

In this regard, I would like to pay special tribute to His Excellency, the Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who paid particular attention to the development and expansion of this co-operation. Among other things, this has placed Malaysia as one of the largest foreign investors in South Africa in the period since 1994.

We have also been privileged to draw on your valuable experience in the implementation of your Bumiputera programme. This is of critical importance to the success of our own efforts targeted at black economic empowerment, to address the racial and gender imbalances that resulted from many centuries of colonialism and apartheid.

Both the scale and nature of the co-operation we have achieved, thanks to the focus of Prime Minister Maharthir on this matter, has given concrete expression to the objective to which both our countries are committed -the objective of South-South co-operation.

Malaysia and South Africa share many objectives. One of these is the development of our countries as stable, peaceful and prosperous non-racial democracies.

This requires that we intensify our efforts to increase our political, economic, social and cultural co-operation. In this regard, the agreement and the memorandum of understanding on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Co-operation that we signed today lays a strong foundation to achieve these objectives. We will ensure that all outstanding agreements, inter allia the protection and promotion of investments and double taxation are finalised as soon as possible.

A further challenge is the development of the countries of the South to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment. This includes the restructuring of the relations between North and South and the strengthening of the United Nations as a democratic institution that represents and responds to the interests of all countries, both large and small.

Among other things, we have an obligation to increase our co-operation as the countries of the South to transform the United Nations as well the Bretton Woods institutions, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth.

In a few weeks time the international community will gather in Cancun, Mexico, for the WTO ministerial meeting. Through our co-operation we must seek to ensure that this meeting advances the interests of the developing countries.

Further, through our active co-operation we must give concrete expression to our vision of Afro-Asian solidarity. The 50th anniversary of the Bandung conference in 2005 provides and opportunity to achieve this objective.

In this regard, we should continue to strengthen the relations between SEAN and the African Union and together find ways to collaborate in the important process of the regeneration of the African continent, through the AU's programme, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

We are also interested to see our common globe evolve in conditions of peace. Accordingly, we are committed to act together to confront the challenge of terrorism. Similarly, we are keenly interested to the critically important objective of peace in the Middle East, including Palestine, Israel and Iraq.

The fact that we share these and other objectives makes it both possible and necessary that we further deepen our co-operation to contribute to their accomplishment in as short a time as possible. The discussions we held earlier today with the Prime Minister and the government of Malaysia confirmed our continuing common resolve to act together on all these matter as resolutely as possible.

Once more, we would like to salute His Excellency, the Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the enormous contribution he has made to the strengthening of friendly relations of co-operation and solidarity between our two countries and peoples, as well as advancing the course of the developing countries. We wish him continuing good health and success in his future endeavours after he leaves office.

We thank their Majesties for giving us the possibility once more to visit Malaysia. We would be most honoured if their Majesties found time to visit South Africa, which they should consider as their second home.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health of their Majesties and friendship between the people of Malaysia and South Africa.

Thank you.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa