KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 4 – J. Eduardo Malaya, who concluded his duty as Philippine ambassador to Malaysia yesterday, was pleased to see a milestone in bilateral relations between both countries in many areas, during his five and a half years’ tenure. Malaya said among the most significant outcomes was security cooperation between the authorities of both countries to ensure the safety of their border areas, especially the waters off Sabah, and confronting the Abu Sayyaf threat.
“I am happy to know that there has been increased cooperation between our respective authorities, significant intelligent sharing, coordinated patrolling that is happening and it will be further enhanced. Things just get better, because more and more of the Abu Sayyaf gangs are falling into the hands of the Philippine military and police,” he told Bernama, describing security as the most challenging part of his tenure here.
Last July, five Malaysian crew members of a tugboat, Serudong Tiga, went missing in the waters of Dent Haven, Tambisan, Sabah, believed to be kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militant group. On March 23 this year, two of the kidnap victims, Abdul Rahim Summas, 62, and Tayudin Anjut, 45, were rescued by Philippine security forces in the waters off Pulau Pata, in the southern Sulu Province, and arrived home on March 26.
Later that day, the other three, Fandy Bakran, 27, Mohd Jumadil Rahin, 24, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33, were rescued in an operation in Punay (Publicion) Panglima Estino, also in Sulu Province, and arrived home on March 29. Malaya also noted that Malaysia and the Philippines enjoyed significant trade and investment cooperation, amounting to US$4.6 billion in 2015, with numerous Malaysian firms expanding their markets in the Philippines. Among them are Genting Group and Berjaya Group.
Philippine companies are also operating in Malaysia and the prime example of them is the country’s largest oil refining and marketing company, Petron Corporation which operates about 100 petrol stations in Malaysia. “So, I would like to see more economic engagement between Malaysia and the Philippines, because in trade and investment particularly, there will always be a win-win situation (for both countries),” he said.
He also spoke on the great achievement of the Malaysia-Philippine tourism industry where 554,917 Filipinos visited Malaysia and 155,814 Malaysian tourists going the other way in 2015. Malaya said the significant number of tourist arrivals had been the result of growing cooperation between the airline industries of both countries.
“For instance, AirAsia is not only flying to Manila but also directly to Boracay, Philippines, while Cebu Pacific is flying from Manila to Kota Kinabalu, same way as AirAsia. The more we visit and discover each other, the more we are able to understand each other, and that serves as a good basis for strong bilateral relations,” he said.
On another note, Malaya said during his stint in Malaysia, he admired the move of moderation taken by the Malaysian government in solving international crises, for example, the latest diplomatic tensions between Malaysia and North Korea in the last two months. He said countries like the Philippines could learn from Malaysia on how its government had taken the initiatives over this issue until it managed to bring home the nine Malaysian citizens who were barred from leaving North Korea.
Malaysia-North Korea relations took a nosedive following the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) on Feb 13. Therefore, Malaya hopes his successor who will be in Malaysia in the middle of the month, will not only be able to maintain this successful Malaysia-Philippine relations, but to bring it to the maximum level. — Bernama