PUTRAJAYA, Feb 21 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia and Thailand have identified six potential areas where economic cooperation can be enhanced.
He said these are the automotive industry; managing the rubber industry particularly in the border areas; food security, energy security; oil and gas; and tourism.
“In addition, the two countries also agreed that the halal industry should be further developed,” he said in a joint press conference with his Thailand counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra, here.
Earlier, Yingluck, who is in Malaysia for a one-day visit, was accorded an official welcome before she and her delegation had a closed-door meeting with Najib and a Malaysian delegation.
Najib said Thailand is currently Malaysia’s second largest trading partner in Asean, with 13 per cent average growth between 2010 and 2011 and some 400 Malaysian firms having invested in Thailand.
Najib said the two countries also agreed on the need to reinvigorate and resuscitate the existing mechanisms for bilateral relations established over the years, such as the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JC), Joint Development Strategy for Border Areas (JDS), General Border Committee (GBC) as well as the annual consultation between two leaders.
He said the discussion also touched on the need to facilitate people-to-people relationship between the two countries, and enhance the connectivity in the border areas.
“For example, currently there are two proposals, for the construction of the second bridge linking Rantau Panjang and Sungai Golok and Pengkalan Kubor and Takbai, as well as the development of the CIQ (customs, immigration and quarantine) complex in Bukit Kayu Hitam and Sadao.
He said Yingluck is also keen on the idea of establishing bus services plying the two countries, so that there will be a free flow of people.
Najib said they also discussed the need to find a long-term and durable peaceful solution in southern Thailand, and Yingluck requested Malaysia to provide whatever assistance and cooperation it could to help Thailand toward reaching a long-term solution in the area.
He said both of them agreed that it is a domestic matter of Thailand’s, and that the people in the south must not seek a separate state, and must reject violence and extremism.
“They must be loyal Thailand citizens and loyal to the King of Thailand. Within those fundamental parameters, we must endeavor to find a workable solution in terms of greater participation in economic activities of the people in the south and a greater say in some of the matters that are close to their heart, like education, religion and some of the cultural matters as well as more economic development and opportunities,” he said.
He said the two countries also touched on the problem of dual citizenship and agreed that the two sides should compare their databases so that they can find a solution to this problem.
Yingluck said the discussions reaffirmed the close ties between Malaysia and Thailand and their shared commitment to strengthen relations and cooperation under the existing bilateral means to promote trade and investment, “halal” cooperation and joint investment in third countries.
“To make our relations more active, we need to develop both hardware and software economic activity. This not only promotes economic prosperity for the people along the border areas but also enhances regional connectivity,” she said.
She said Thailand welcomes and supports the policies of the Global Movement of Moderates initiated by Najib as a means to fight extremism, and added that Thailand firmly believes that moderation is the key to peace.
“As a member of Asean, we see our cooperation as the key to Asean community building, regional connectivity, peace and prosperity, with Malaysia scheduled to be the Asean chair in 2015,” she said.
“Thailand is confident that the launch of the Asean community will be in good hands. We look forward to Asean being the key driver of the economic growth and stability in the wider Asia Pacific region,” she added.
Source : Bernama