Malaysia among NZ’s earliest relationships in Southeast Asia

There are daily direct flights between Malaysia and New Zealand.

Malaysia is a diverse, vibrant country in Southeast Asia which has a long history with New Zealand, says Dr John Subritzky, New Zealand High Commissioner to Malaysia.

John Subritzky: Malaysia and New Zealand are close partners in many different areas.

We have two free-trade agreements with Malaysia, and Malaysia is our 10th-largest trading partner. It is also our 12th-largest source of tourists. We have direct flights between the two countries on a daily basis.

We also have excellent people-to-people links – 2,000 Malaysian students study in New Zealand roughly each year.

An incredibly diverse country

Malaysia is, as you’ve probably known if you looked at the map, right in the heart of Southeast Asia. So it’s an incredibly diverse country. It has a good mix of ethnicities and religions. About two-thirds of the people in Malaysia are Malay, and majority of those are Muslim. About 22 percent of Malaysian people are of Chinese extraction. And about seven or eight percent are Indian. This makes for a marvellous multicultural environment, a marvellous arena for street food; Malaysia is extremely vibrant.

History of NZ-Malaysia ties

New Zealand’s relationship with Malaysia goes a long way back. It is one of our earliest relationships in Southeast Asia.

Our first engagement was before Malaysia became independent in 1957. We were involved in an aid programme, supporting the then-colony of Malaya. We had the first Malaysian student come out from Malaysia to New Zealand in the 1950s under what was called the “Colombo Plan”.

We also had New Zealand soldiers who served in Malaya in the 1950s, and then subsequently in the 1960s during various conflicts. The first was called the “emergency”. The second was called the “confrontation”. And Malaysians still remember the support they received from us during these critical phases in their history, in terms of their independence, but also the nation-building.

– Asia Media Centre