Mar 18. Bernama. KUALA LUMPUR

KAZAKHSTAN SHARES SIMILIARITIES WITH MALAYSIA, SAYS ENVOYKazakhstan is impressed with the rapid social and economic changes in Malaysia which are due to the far-sighted vision of its past and present leaders.

Its ambassador to Malaysia Beibut B. Atamkulov said Malaysia was fortunate to have visionary leaders like former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had led the country for 22 years.

“Malaysia is one of the strongest economies in Asia and is well known in the world. It also has a high standard of education and better social life,” he told reporters through an interpreter at the embassy, here, today.

Atamkulov said Kazakhstan actually shared similarities with Malaysia in terms of vision and administration concepts brought by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Dr Mahathir.

“Malaysia has Vision 2020 and we have Vision 2030, and while you have the Malaysia concept, we have a similar concept where all the ethnic groups in Kazakhstan live in unity,” he said.

According to him, the country has more than 40 religions, with Islam being the most widespread followed by Christianity.

“Sixty per cent of our population are Muslims, and we are a very tolerant country where more than 100 ethnic groups and nationalities co-exist. We have a small population, only 16.5 million,” he said, adding that the country was currently developing its halal products.

Atamkulov said Malaysia had also become a chosen country for students to further their studies and a famous tourist destination for the people of Kazakhstan.

“There are now more than 2,000 Kazakhstan students studying in Malaysia, especially in business and information technology (IT). Each year, our government gives grants and send 4,000 students to various universities in the world.

He said Najib was expected to visit Kazakhstan this June and would be signing various memorandums including on tourism, and strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

Atamkulov said the embassy planned to organise a trip for Malaysian journalists to Kazakhstan this May or June for them to tell other Malaysians about the country through their articles.

On the nuclear crisis in Japan, Atamkulov said like other countries, Kazakhstan was also concerned about exposure to radiation following leaks from the quake-hit nuclear plant in Japan.

“Several years ago, about 480 nuclear testings were performed in the Kazakhstan territory, with the testings being more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II, rendering large areas of land useless while one million people suffered from radiation.

“That”s why the Kazakhstan people know what nuclear power means and we are fighting against using nuclear weapons,” he said.