LANGKAWI: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today officiated the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) 2019, some 28 years after first launching the inaugural edition of the biannual event.
At the event, which was also attended by Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, Mahathir said he launched Malaysia’s first blueprint for the Development of the Aerospace Industry in 1991.
“It was a bold move for some and baby steps for others, but looking at what we have before us in the development of the aerospace industry today, it was a necessary move to ensure that Malaysia kept up with the catalytic and rapidly growing industry,” he said.
Now, Mahathir said, Malaysia’s aerospace industry has grown to the point that the country is known for its products used by international companies including Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Safran, Honeywell and Thales.
He noted that the total export of aircraft and associated equipment and parts last year was valued at RM8.48 billion, an increase of 20.7% compared to 2017.
“Some of these products are being showcased throughout LIMA ’19, to highlight Malaysia’s capability of producing world-class aerospace products,” he added.
Moving forward, he said, the defence ministry is preparing the first ever defence white paper, aimed at informing the public of the ministry’s priorities and plans.
“It sets out the government’s expectations for defence in the coming decades and reflects the government’s commitment to a more regular cycle of defence policy updates,” he said.
The white paper, which Mahathir described as a “comprehensive and responsible long-term plan” highlights the need to develop indigenous knowledge as well as a research and technology-based defence industry to support the armed forces.
Mahathir said Malaysia would continue to encourage local defence firms to collaborate and manufacture hardware domestically.
LIMA, Mahathir’s brainchild from his first stint as prime minister, sees the participation of military, defence and transport officials, and companies from around the world.
This year, over 350 local and international participants from more than 30 countries will be taking part in the exhibition which ends on Saturday.