PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim “touched all the right bases” in outlining Malaysia’s foreign policy direction at his maiden press conference, says an analyst at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies.
It was noteworthy that Anwar spoke on the importance of China, an “important neighbour” with whom Malaysia had to strengthen relations, said Thomas Benjamin Daniel.
However, an international relations expert from Universiti Malaya, Collins Chong, said Anwar needed to be assiduous in managing bilateral ties with China. He also said it was clear that Anwar was aware of China’s importance, especially in economic and security matters.
Daniel noted that Anwar had also said it was ‘equally important’ to enhance ties with other key partners including the United States, Europe, India and Asean. However, he said foreign policy nuances might emerge in due time.
Chong said “millions of lives and livelihoods” would be affected if the approach and scope of Malaysia’s relationship with China was not handled well.
He similarly said Anwar would do well to build on existing ties with other international superpowers as well as neighbours.
“(Of course) he (Anwar) will expand the process of diversifying our economic dependence and trade relations with other major economic players in Asean, India and the US.”
Anwar had described ties with China as “pivotal”.
“China is an important neighbour. Of course it’s a priority to enhance bilateral, trade, investment and cultural relations with China,” said Anwar. “I would not just leave (ties with China) as it is. (They) need to be enhanced.”
However, Anwar said building on relations with the US, Europe, India and Asean was equally crucial.