Monday, February 24, 2014

Cambodia and Malaysia look to further cooperation in agriculture, tourism and education sectors

PHNOM PENH, February 20, 2014  – Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister shared views on Thursday that both countries can tap mutual benefits and complement each other.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin informed H.E. Sok An that, “Malaysia is good at rubber plantations, palm oil, and technology and the key is how best to work with Cambodia.”

He said that Malaysian companies are interested in investing in processing rubber resin and can make good furniture from old rubber trees in Cambodia.

Malaysian state run companies can also explore energy, generation, hydro-power plants and infrastructures such as roads in Cambodia.

“We need feasibility studies first before the next steps can be taken. We can provide resources under the plan of privatization,” H.E. Tan Sri Muhyiddin said in the meeting.

In response, H.E. Dr. Sok An, also Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, welcomed Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s statement and said that “Cambodia’s red soil is very suitable for rubber plantations”.

“Since Cambodia is good at agriculture, Malaysian researchers can do bio-technology research in Cambodia,” said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister.

H.E. Sok An told H.E. Tan Sri Muhyiddin that Cambodia’s government has privatized its 7 state run rubber plantations and now the rubber plantations have been “expanded and are growing very fast thanks to Cambodia’s red soil”.

“Cambodia has potential in rice production and is seeking overseas market to export the commodity with good price,” H.E. Sok An said in the meeting.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister responded that he will encourage Malaysian rice distributor Bernas, which covers 70 percent of Malaysian domestic consumption and import remains, to invest in Cambodia.

Malaysian investments in Cambodia amounted to $2.62 billion US from 1994 to 2013.

H.E. Dr. Sok An also said that Cambodia also has high potential in cultural tourism thanks to the Kingdom’s abundance of historic temples of more than 1,000 nationwide with many of them located in the province of Siem Reap which has become the heart of cultural tourism.

Cambodia’s full national reconciliation, under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, since 1998 when the Royal Government dismantled the Khmer Rouge’s military and political organizations also contributed to a big jump in tourist arrivals.

In 1994, Cambodia received about 100,000 tourists and that increased to 4.2 million tourists in 2013. Cambodia’s tourist arrival rises between 15 to 18 percent per annum and is attracting more tourists worldwide including Malaysians.

H.E. Tan Sri Muhyiddin said in the meeting: “I am happy to see more flights to Cambodia from Kula Lumpur. We have 8 regular flights these days to Cambodia and we are very keen on how we can be further involved in Cambodia’s tourism development”.

More than 117,000 Malaysian tourists visited Cambodia in 2013, according to the government’s statistics.

Both sides also look to further cooperation in the areas of education and labor.

“We look to host more Cambodian students in Malaysia,” said the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, adding that, there are 300 Cambodian students who are now studying in Malaysia.

In term of labor, the two countries are working on an MOU and how to manage Cambodian to work in Malaysia.

“We have an arrangement which we call G to G (Government to Government) to avoid middleman who create many problems. So, workers from here should be managed by the Ministry of Labor. We need to protect them,” the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister assured H.E Dr. Sok An.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Sok An said that more Cambodians want to work overseas such as in South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.

“It is a good idea by working through G to G (Government to Government). We have some experiences with South Korea, so that we can avoid problems.” This view was also shared by the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister who also said that“Cambodian laborers need to have proper training before they come to work in Malaysia and that will reduce some problems.”

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister invited Cambodian leader, Prime Minister Hun Sen and H.E. Dr. Sok An to visit Kula Lumpur.

“We are happy to host your visit,” said H.E. Tan Sri Muhyiddin.


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