At the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, undertook an official visit to Sri Lanka from 17-19 December 2017. This is Prime Minister Najib’s second visit to Sri Lanka since assuming office as Prime Minister in 2009.
Prime Minister Najib congratulated President Sirisena for the successful completion of three years in the latter’s tenure of office, and expressed his confidence that Sri Lanka would achieve peace, prosperity and economic development.
In the context of the two countries commemorating the 60th anniversary of Malaysia-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations, both leaders hailed the strong bonds of friendship forged through shared historical, cultural and social ties between the two countries and their people.
During the visit, Prime Minister Najib had a bilateral meeting with President Sirisena. Having noted the deepening of the Malaysia-Sri Lanka relations for six decades, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance bilateral relations in the years ahead. The two leaders emphasized that the reciprocal high level visits in 2016 and 2017 reflected the importance that both countries have placed on their bilateral relations.
The two leaders underscored the desire of both countries to further strengthen bilateral economic ties, including trade and investment promotions. In this regard, President Sirisena welcomed the positive engagement of Malaysian enterprises in Sri Lanka and invited further Malaysian investments, in view of the favourable investment climate introduced by the Government of Sri Lanka. Both leaders stressed the importance of promoting proactive and attractive policies on overseas investments as means of encouraging more direct investment into Sri Lanka.
Recognizing that the signing of the MoU on Tourism Related Activities in December 2016, both leaders exchanged views on ways of furthering cooperation in the field of tourism. More collaboration between the two countries would be pursued in promoting tourism industry.
Welcoming increased cooperation between the two countries in the areas of youth development, the two leaders noted the importance of capacity building programmes including exchange programmes and study tours. Prime Minister Najib conveyed his gratitude to the Government of Sri Lanka for facilitating the MyCorps Volunteer Programme, an international youth volunteer programme organized by the Malaysian Ministry of Youth and Sports which was held in Sri Lanka from August to October 2017.Both leaders agreed, as part of the initiatives under the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Youth Development signed in 2016, to facilitate more youth exchange programmes, study tours and youth camps for Sri Lankan youth in Malaysia.
The two leaders agreed to expand mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of Science and Technology, and welcomed further cooperation between the Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation (BioeconomyCorp) and Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (COSTI) of Sri Lanka on the sharing of information and transfer of know-how in bioeconomy development.
Acknowledging the signing of the MoU in the Field of Culture, Arts and Heritage in December 2016, the two leaders underscored that there is much potential for further expansion in the field of cultural relations.
President Sirisena commended the leading role Malaysia plays as an education hub in the region and noted the presence of Sri Lankan students in the Malaysian education programmes.
Discussion between the two leaders also focused on sharing know-how and technical expertise in the fields of Airport Management and Health sector.
Both leaders decided to further enhance cooperation between the two countries in international forums on addressing the challenges to peace and security of the region and the international community as a whole. President Sirisena expressed his appreciation to the steadfast support extended by Malaysia to Sri Lanka in regional and international fora.
President Sirisena and Prime Minister Najib agreed on the need to work closely to fight against the menace of drug trafficking and other organized crimes bilaterally as well as through multilateral mechanisms.
Commending the active participation of Malaysia, a founding member in ASEAN, President Sirisena conveyed Sri Lanka’s intention to establish a Sectoral Dialogue Partnership with ASEAN. Prime Minister Najib welcomed Sri Lanka’s application and looks forward to closer engagement between ASEAN and Sri Lanka.
Both leaders expressed their shared belief in moderation as an important value and approach to countering violent extremism and promoting dialogue, mutual respect and understanding. In this regard, Prime Minister Najib also expressed his appreciation to President Sirisena for Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship and support for the resolution “Moderation” tabled by Malaysia, which was recently adopted during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.
Both leaders discussed the humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine State, Myanmar and welcomed the recent agreement reached between Myanmar and Bangladesh concerning repatriation of refugees and hopes that the process could be undertaken expeditiously to enable the return of refugees in safety and with dignity.
Both leaders witnessed the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) namely MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Training for Diplomats, MoU on the Cooperation in Foresight and Science 2Action and MoU of Collaboration in the Field of Science, Technology and Innovation Activities and Biotechnology Sector.
Both leaders recognized the contribution of Sri Lankan migrant workers in the Malaysian economic development and expressed satisfaction on the role of senior officials of both Governments in managing labour related issues.
Recognising the importance of having close interactions between the two countries on areas of interest and cooperation, both leaders also agreed to establish Foreign Office Consultation on a regular basis.
The two leaders also witnessed the issuance of a special stamp and a First Day cover in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
President Sirisena apprised Prime Minister Najib of the successful achievements of the current National Unity Government of Sri Lanka, in particular the 19th amendment to the constitution; the setting up of independent commissions; the Office of the Missing Persons; the Right to Information Act; the restoration of the freedom of expression; public consultations on the proposed reconciliation mechanisms and the constitution; the setting up of the Constitutional Assembly; measures taken to eradicate corruption, and usher in a culture of good governance.
The Prime Minister Ranil Wickemesinghe, hosted a luncheon meeting in honour of Prime Minister Najib during which both Prime Ministers extensively discussed the promotion of trade, investment and tourism between two countries and the possibility of future cooperation in the fields of science, technology and innovation, and digitalization of judicial documents.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also requested Prime Minister Najib to encourage more Malaysian investments for infrastructure development in Sri Lanka. In that respect, both leaders also discussed utilising Malaysian financing facility to build low-cost housing units in Sri Lanka by 2019.
Both leaders emphasized the importance of strengthening the bilateral trade and economic relations between Sri Lanka and Malaysia paving the way to further integrate into the growing regional trade within the East Asian region. In this context, both sides agreed to undertake and conclude the joint feasibility study for a comprehensive free trade agreement and to start negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement between both countries.
Prime Minister Najib and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe noted with satisfaction the conclusion of a productive Round Table Meeting which is set to deepen the bilateral economic engagements between the two countries. The Government of Sri Lanka would encourage more Sri Lankan investors to further explore the investment opportunities in Malaysia.
A commemorative book entitled ‘Sri Lanka-Malaysia 60 years of Diplomatic Relations and More’ to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries was presented to both Prime Ministers.
During his three day visit, Prime Minister Najib also met the Malaysian diaspora in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Najib graced the launching ceremony of Dialog Axiata Digital Innovation Fund at the Dialog Axiata Headquarters (DADIF) in Colombo on 19 December 2017. Noting the advancement Sri Lanka has achieved in telecommunication sector, Prime Minister Najib indicated further Malaysian investments interest in the sector.
Prime Minister Najib thanked the President, Government and the people of Sri Lanka for the generous hospitality afforded to him and the delegation during the visit.