It was on 31 August 1957, 66 years ago, Malaya (which is now Malaysia), was proclaimed independent from the United Kingdom by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. On this historical day and with the word Merdeka chanted 7 times, a new sovereign and independent nation was born.
Emerging from the shadow of COVID-19, Malaysia managed to attract foreign investment (FDI) amounting to RM879.1 billion at the end of 2022 compared to RM782.0 billion at the end of 2021. Malaysia's trade volume in 2022 has also recorded a new achievement by reaching RM2.8 trillion which was recorded as the fastest growth since 1994 at 27.8 percent.
I am also proud to reiterate that Malaysia was the first Muslim nation to recognise Bangladesh as a sovereign nation with the formal establishment of the diplomatic relations on 31 January 1972. Since then, a "brotherly relations" has been maintained and developed that so many of us enjoyed today. Malaysia under the leadership of Prime Minister, Honourable Dato' Sri Anwar Ibrahim, and Bangladesh, led by Prime Minister, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, will therefore continue to actively engage in various fields.
In fact, Bangladesh is Malaysia's 19th largest trading partner, and ranked second among South Asian nations. Bangladesh is also Malaysia's 16th largest export destination. With such a robust trade relation, a Malaysia-Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement (FTA), would augur well for our businesses and prepare our economies for whatever challenges that lay ahead.
I also wish to welcome genuine Bangladeshi tourists to continue to visit Malaysia, not only for leisure but also for medical tourism. Malaysia offers advanced medical facilities and skilled healthcare. Malaysia has also emerged as an educational hub, attracting students from Bangladesh who seek world-class education in a diverse and inclusive environment.
Finally, I wish to call upon all Malaysians residing in this beautiful country of Bangladesh, to embrace this spirit of Merdeka and this year's theme Malaysia MADANI: Tekad Perpaduan Penuhi Harapan (determination in unity, fulfilling hope). Selamat Hari Kebangsaan!
HAZNAH MD HASHIM
HIGH COMMISSIONER OF MALAYSIA TO THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH