Astana – Kuala Lumpur: a course for innovations. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has paid a state visit to Malaysia

Apr 19. Kazpravda. Kuala Lumpur

By Vladimir Kuryatov

Astana - Kuala Lumpur: a course for innovations. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has paid a state visit to MalaysiaSoutheast Asia is a growing interest area in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. Late last year the President visited Vietnam , recently Indonesia and yesterday- Malaysia. The latter visit ushers in a new stage of economic relations between Kazakhstan and Malaysia. The top-level talks resulted in the signed MoCs in the development of mineral resources, higher education and tourism, as well as a package of documents subsequent to the business forum.

From tin mines to high-tech

Once a provincial periphery, Malaysia has evolved into a world high technology nation. In the early years of independence its economy could boast only rubber, tin and agricultural products. However in a short time span the country managed to reverse the situation to be dubbed a “rebellious upstart” in Europe and lead in the region in the pace of economic growth and the population’s income.

Villages with bamboo huts were shortly replaced by state-of-the-art buildings. Practically nothing is left to remind of the past, except the place names. Kuala Lumpur, for one, in Malay means “muddy estuary”. This cleanest city in Asia “owes” such a strange name to open tin mining that was years ago on the banks of the river, making it brown-gray.

Other vestiges of the past are architectural monuments and buildings left of the time of British rule. A new administrative center- Putrajaya- was built on Kuala Lumpur fringes in order to have own capital, named after its founder – the first Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haya. The prefix “jaya” means “success.”

Construction of the new administrative centers is what makes our countries somewhat alike. Another likeness is cultural diversity. Over the 54 years of independence, the Malaysian authorities have managed to rally the three largest ethnicities – Malays, Chinese and Indians. Both Kazakhstan and Malaysia go by long-term strategic program of national development- a third similarity.

An integral part of Malaysia’s strategy is the Economic Transformation Program, aimed at doubling the national GDP in 2020, and in Kazakhstan it is the AIID program. All these similarities are conductive to a closer cooperation despite the distance of tens of thousands of kilometers apart. To states with shared interests distance is no obstacle, and the purpose of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s visit to Malaysia is to reduce this distance.

In the meeting ceremony 21 artillery volleys and the two countries’ anthems saluted the Kazakh President, who was met by the Supreme Head of Malaysia 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdul Halim and Malaysian Prime-Minister Najib Tun Razak.

At the end of the ceremony Kazakhstan President had an informal talk with the Malaysian monarch.

– In a short time, Malaysia has made the way from an agrarian country to a “new industrial state”, having entered the third millennium as a leader in economic growth. Your country has made a significant contribution to the development of Islamic Cooperation Organization, now chaired by Kazakhstan. This year we marked the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations. I am sure it will help enhance our bilateral partnership, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev.

No obstacles to contacts

The talks continued in the administrative center of Malaysia. The new city is really striking. In it any architectural design is meaningful. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is situated on a hill “to better see the world.” Bridges and magnificent architecture of Putrajaya symbolize sustainable development: every new construction is a next step in technology, every new building – a symbol of success.

The “Perdana Putra” Palace – Prime Minister’s Office, was hosting the talks in the narrow and expanded format, the main emphasis in which was boosting trade and investment cooperation.

– We are interested in Malaysia’s experience in petrochemistry, hydrocarbon refinement, industrial upgrade, creation of special industrial zones and economic corridors. Projects in energy and mineral resources, agriculture, construction and financial sectors have a promising outlook too – said Nursultan Nazarbayev, underscoring that Malaysia is a priority partner of Kazakhstan in South-East Asia and the Muslim world. The “Asian Tiger” is an inspiring example to many countries in the region.

It’s time to unlock the available potential. In 2011 the trade turnover between the countries made about $ 100 million, and it could be further raised, which necessitates a package of measures. Area task groups need be established to address it.

The President invited the Malay business to share in the program for accelerated industrial-innovative development in Kazakhstan, create JVs in meat and flour halal production. In 2005 our country adopted the Malaysian halal standard MS-1500 and introduced the Islamic banking, which is auspicious for the partnership, there are no hindrances to it.

The President and the Malaysian Prime Minister also pointed to potential for interaction in education, training and expert exchange. During the meeting, the two Education Ministers signed the relevant document. MoCs were also signed between the governments in the development of mineral resources and tourism.

N.Nazarbayev believes the fruitful talks and the business forum will further stimulate the development of bilateral relations.

In turn, Najib Tun Razak praised the political and socio-economic achievements of Kazakhstan.

economic potential of our countries. We share positions on all key issues of world politics and have established a strong interaction within CICA, OIC and other international organizations – the Prime Minister said.

Najib Tun Razak said that the visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev opened a new lease in the relations between the two countries, and it is a powerful signal to the strengthening of cooperation between Kazakhstani and Malaysian business.

– Your country has a most favorable investment climate in the region. We view Kazakhstan as a gateway to the market of the Common Economic Space. In turn, Malaysia could be a gateway for Kazakhstan export to South-East Asia.

Knowledge- intensive economy

The experience of Malaysia, especially in high technologies, can be useful to Kazakhstan. Factories and offices of major international corporations and businesses move to this country not just for cheap labor, but because of the proper infrastructure for the movement of industrial productions built there. The stake in it is made on knowledge-intensive economy and high technologies giving high added value.

The ambassador to Malaysia Beibut Atamkulov said that while the world is talking of the previous, and possibly a new crisis, in Malaysia with a construction boom and lots of infrastructure projects underway, such topics are practically nonexistent.

And Malaysians’ “megalomania” is seen not only in the height of skyscrapers, but the scale of the development of new territories. One of them is the city of Cyberjaya that arose under the “Multimedia Super Corridor of Malaysia” program – another satellite of Kuala Lumpur, a zone of special favor for innovative enterprises. The oil palm plantations are now replaced by a futuristic panorama: state-of-the-art houses, offices of 600 IT-companies, both well-known and budding. True, it is short of the Silicon Valley status because of few promising start-ups. But they are working to living up to it. The second development phase of Cyberjaya, started in 2003, is aimed precisely at promoting innovative small business, based on knowledge-intensive economy. 30 thousand students are being trained for the new economy at the local institutes.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev was awarded a Doctor of Honoris Causa title of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, the fourth statesman to hold this degree after Nelson Mandela, Mahathir Mohammad and Najib Tun Razak.

Another major project of Malaysia – “Iskandar”- the main southern development corridor -was showcased to Nursultan Nazarbayev during the exhibition at the end of the business forum, along with other breakthrough ventures.

The development area of Iskandar is 2.217 square meters and its turnover is already more than 20 billion dollars a year. The GDP is higher than the national average.

Malaysia has clearly a unique experience in implementing infrastructure projects, which makes this area most attractive for cooperation, said of the Minister of Industry and New Technologies Aset Issekeshev during the business forum that showcased the largest companies of Malaysia actively working in Kazakhstan or looking to it.

Among them is the ALM Builders Sdn Bhd negotiating the construction of a new international airport near Kapshagai. Reconstruction of Almaty – Kapshagay motorway and construction of tourism cluster near Almaty on a- 500- hectare site are planned too. The company declares its readiness to invest $ 4 billion in Kazakhstan together with CIMB Bank.

Another well-known company – MELEWAR INDUSTRIAL GRUP BERHAD is set to open in our country a production of construction reinforcement materials. The price of the matter is about $ 60 million.

Markore energy and mineral has acquired a number of fields in Kazakhstan, and this February signed a MoC on seawater desalination with the Mangyshlak nuclear-energy and mineral.

Another well-known company in Malaysia – Sapura – is looking to the Kazakh energy and mineral.

At the exhibition three MoCs were signed: between the Payling company and the National Agency for Technical Development of the RK, Perak Educity and KAZNEX INVEST, DRB – HICOM and Allur Auto.

The Kazakh Allur Auto is planning to launch Proton cars assembly line.

Malaysians have ample experience in concession projects, which may also be availed of. In particular, at the exhibition the SIDB Malaysia company that manufactures light rail trams was showcased.

The business forum and the exhibition resulted in nine signed MoCs in various fields.

Most importantly, there is mutual interest in boosting cooperation, and an understanding that reliance on innovation is the only way to achieve a high competitiveness level.