Honourable senators, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to talk about Canada-Malaysia relations.
Malaysia has a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system of government. It is a federation of 13 states and three federal territories. As a multi-ethnic and multicultural society consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indian and the Orang Asli, the country is committed to advancing religious freedom and mutual respect through cross-cultural dialogue.
Canada and Malaysia have a long history of friendly bilateral relations. Canada was among the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Federation of Malaysia following independence in 1957. As a result, the year 2017 will mark the sixtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries.
As one of Canada's most important trade and investment partners in Southeast Asia and the largest regional market, Malaysia is a key priority market for our country. After decades of industrial growth and political stability, Malaysia has become one of the most vibrant economies in Southeast Asia. In 2012 the state-owned energy company Petronas acquired Canada's Progress Energy for $5.5 billion. This was one of the largest foreign investments made by Malaysian authorities to date.
Canadian companies have also invested in various sectors of Malaysia's economy and continue to employ thousands of Malaysians each year. There is a tremendous potential for increased cooperation and growth between our two countries.
On May 5, 2016, I was honoured to be elected as the Senate co- chair of the re-established Canada-Malaysia Inter-Parliamentary Group. Senator Martin was elected vice-chair. Senators Ataullahjan, Enverga and Merchant are directors. This mechanism will help promote greater understanding and cooperation between Canada and Malaysia through economic, cultural and political exchanges.
The year 2017 will be a milestone for Canada and Malaysia relations. I hope our two countries continue to work together to further enhance bilateral relations.
Thank you! Merci! Terima kasih!
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