Kuala Lumpur – United States (US) and Malaysia enjoy very good relations at the moment, right from the economic and security ties and the people-to-people exchanges.
The new US Ambassador to Malaysia Brian D. McFeeters said on the economic front, 500-700 US companies have invested in Malaysia – with US investments in Malaysia amounting to more than US$10 billion.
“On (the) security side, we have been working effectively with the Malaysian armed forces in enhancing its capabilities in defending its interests, with things like better radar and drones,” he said during his visit to the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama), here today.
On people-to-people exchanges, there are youth exchanges including under the Fullbright programme, and the International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) that also help enhance people-to-people contact.
“There are very good relations in those three areas,” he said.
On how US President Biden’s administration views the region, he said; “I think there is a strong interest in partnerships around the world generally, Malaysia is also a strong partner for the US.”
McFeeters said one of the things the embassy here will be doing is to encourage US senior officials, including president Biden, to come out to Southeast Asia for the annual summits.
On COVID-19, he said cooperation in health between both countries goes even before COVID-19 with a number of programmes rolled out by the US for the world’s benefit, including the US$200 million programme predicting future diseases.
For COVID-19, US has a number of small targetted assistance programmes for countries like providing medical equipment.
McFeeters pointed out Malaysia and US were also on the COVAX initiative bandwagon to help provide vaccine to low income countries, with US planning to contribute US$4 billion for that.
COVAX is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organisation and others.
Meanwhile. on how he finds Malaysia after a 10-year hiatus, McFeeters said Malaysia has certainly seen more progress, including a new skyline.
The ambassador spent half of his 30-year Foreign Service career working in Southeast Asia including as the Political Counsellor of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur from 2009 to 2011.
The visit to the national news agency today is among the earliest itineraries of the ambassador since handing over his credentials to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at Istana Negara last Thursday (March 18). – Bernama