Nepal-Malaysia diplomatic ties were established in 1960. Malaysia and Nepal are both known for their cultural diversity. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country having Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous inhabitants, whereas Nepal has a diverse ethnic and linguistic population. Furthermore, both countries have a religious mix; Malaysia has a sizable Muslim population as well as Buddhists, Hindus, and Christians. Nepal is largely Hindu, although it also boasts a sizable Buddhist minority. We have many commonalities that we acknowledge and cherish.
In 2001, Malaysia designated Nepal as a source nation for migrant labor. Since then, a large number of migrant laborers have relocated to Malaysia in search of employment. Furthermore, there are several sectors in which both nations might continue to collaborate to deepen bilateral relations to the advantage of both.
To discuss both nations' relationships and strategies to strengthen them. Pratikshya Khanal spoke with Mr. Mohd Firdaus Azman, Charge De' Affaires at the Malaysian Embassy, for Himalaya Times:
What sectors, according to you, can potentially contribute to the development of both countries?
In fact, both Malaysia and Nepal have enormous potential for collaboration. Malaysia is grateful for the entry of employees in the manufacturing, agriculture, and security sectors. Nepali employees make significant contributions to our economy. In exchange, the migrant laborers working in Malaysia assist Nepal's economy. Apart from manpower, tourism and education appear to be viable sectors for contributing to the growth of both nations. As collaboration is limited between two countries in the aforementioned sectors, we must continue to work together.
Your country has developed itself as a tourism hub; what are your suggestions for Nepal to be able to welcome more tourists in future?
Nepal is a magnificent nation with abundant natural beauty. Despite my brief visit, I am optimistic that Nepal can promote itself on the basis of its natural and cultural diversity. I believe Nepal could attract many more foreign tourists if the quality of services and facilities supplied to travelers is upgraded.
For what purpose do Nepali people visit Malaysia the most?
The main motive for visiting Malaysia would be for job. We employed a large number of Nepalese to work in numerous industries, including manufacturing, construction, and security. Malaysia hosted over 300,000 Nepali employees as of February 2023. Aside from that, many Nepalese visitors visit Malaysia and appreciate our hospitality. Nepali students are also interested in pursuing their higher education in Malaysia.
Many Nepali students travel to Malaysia for higher education, but we do not hear of many service-provider institutions that help students who are considering pursuing education in Malaysia; why is this so?
Malaysia and Nepal's educational partnership is still in its early stages. There are several service-provider institutions in Nepal that help us promote education in Malaysia. However, as we can see, this industry has enormous potential for both countries to gain from. We are dedicated to working with all relevant parties to explore how we can further expand our collaboration in this sector.
Is there any education provider in Nepal that promotes Malaysia only? If yes, can you name it, and what is that company doing to promote Malaysian study here in Nepal?
At the moment, the cooperation between the two countries in this sector is very limited. However, there are certain companies that have been assisting us in promoting Malaysia as an education hub. I would look forward to working together with all the relevant stakeholders to see how we can develop and strengthen our cooperation in the sector of education.
Nepali Manpower has been contributing in varied sectors of Malaysia; what fresh provisions can we expect from your government to support and motivate them?
Malaysia is truly grateful that many Nepali have chosen Malaysia as their destination for foreign employment. This reflects the friendly ties both countries share. To ensure that both countries continue to benefit from such cooperation, Malaysia remains steadfast in continuously working together with the government of Nepal to explore how we could strengthen our cooperation in the sector of manpower. We acknowledge that there are several concerns that need to be addressed when it comes to the management of Nepalese manpower in Malaysia, and we stand ready to work closely with the government of Nepal to address the concerns.
What issues regarding foreign employment will you prioritize working on?
Several concerns have been raised time and again by the Nepalese in Malaysia. We are always open to hearing their concerns. Not only their concerns, but any concerns from the government of Nepal are welcome. A major concern is that the workers, after their arrival in Malaysia, are not allotted the work they are promised. We are tracing and assisting those Nepalese to find a job and earn their living. I will also focus on listening and tackling any concerns or challenges they may be facing in Malaysia. It is my hope that I can assist further on how to make all Nepalese in Malaysia feel like home.
Nepal is set on a journey towards development. How can both countries collaborate and move forward together?
I believe both countries could explore more areas that could benefit both countries. Of course, we have had strong collaboration in the human resources area, which has considerably benefited both of our economies. Moving forward, I feel we may expand our collaboration in other areas as well. Personally, I feel that education plays an essential role in a country's progress. As a result, we aim to provide a more affordable, high-quality education to Nepali students. Furthermore, we must work together to promote tourism extensively in both nations, since both have a lot to offer in terms of tourism.
Do you have a plan to promote tourism in both countries?
For the benefit of both countries in particular in the promotion of tourism, one of the approaches we had was to invite foreign media to experience the hospitality that we have in Malaysia and, in return, to do coverage in Malaysia when they return home. We are working with the local partner to have the local media in Nepal come visit and explore Malaysia, and it is my hope that we can work this through, preferably this year.
What are your plans to further deepen the friendly relationship between the two countries?
It is my hope that both countries will strive to deepen their cooperation, not just between governments but also between citizens. It is my goal that more people will visit each other's countries and enjoy the plethora of experiences that both countries have to offer.
I am happy and excited to collaborate with local stakeholders to discover methods to expand our relationship for the benefit of both countries. My office is always open, and I invite any interested parties to visit to our Embassy to discuss ways to collaborate. Meanwhile, I would also humbly invite the people of Nepal to visit and discover Malaysia.