Bangladesh- Malaysia Bilateral relations: a bright star in the horizon

The hope of bilateral cooperation towards beneficial partnership and elevation of the current relations to greater heights are the commitment of the Hon’ble Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Malaysia with the ultimate goal to further the relations in both strength and dimension.

Both the countries have come a long way to consolidate their bilateral relation since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries after Malaysia recognized Bangladesh on 31 January 1972.

In a stunning victory the four party alliance PakatanHarapan led by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad won the 14th General Election of Malaysia on 9th May 2018 ending a six decade rule by the BarisanNasional coalition that he had once led.Dr. Mahathir had previously served as Prime Minister of the country for 22 years till 2003 and was the first Prime Minister to take oath of office at the age of 92.On the other hand, through a historic victory at the 11thParliamentary Elections of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the 3rdconsecutive term.

Location of Bangladesh and Malaysia in the South and the Southeast Asia respectively have brought these two countries closer. Mutual respect, fraternity and co-operation particularly on development activities are increasing with the passage of time. The two countries have exchanged several visits at the highest political, ministerial and official level that has substantially contributed to the promotion of friendship, mutual understanding and co-operation.

Location of Bangladesh and Malaysia in the South and the Southeast Asia respectively have brought these two countries closer. Mutual respect, fraternity and co-operation particularly on development activities are increasing with the passage of time. The two countries have exchanged several visits at the highest political, ministerial and official level that has substantially contributed to the promotion of friendship, mutual understanding and co-operation.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman visited Malaysia in 1973, which laid the foundation of Bangladesh-Malaysia relations. Former King of Malaysia His Majesty Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah visited Bangladesh in December 1974. Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad visited Bangladesh in 1983 and 1993. He also attended D-8 Summit in Dhaka in March 1999. Dr. Mahathir also attended as keynote speaker in the First Bangladesh-Malaysia Business Forum held in Dhaka in December 2004.

He visited Bangladesh in March 2014 as Key Note Speaker at the convocation ceremony of the University of Information Technology and Sciences, Dhaka. Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid an official visit to Malaysia in August 2000 and December 2014. Hon’ble Prime Minister also attended the Sixth World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in Kuala Lumpur in May 2010.

During this visit, an eleven-point Joint statement was also issued by Bangladesh and Malaysia. Apart from these, significant progress was achieved during the bilateral official talks regarding formation of an Investment Forum and resuming the meetings of Joint Commission. The Honorable Prime Minister also met the Malaysian investors in a meeting and discussed various aspects of investment opportunities that Malaysian investors may avail in Bangladesh.

Both Malaysia and Bangladesh share common views on a wide range of international issues, as both are being the members of organizations like D-8, G-77, OIC, and Commonwealth etc. Notable candidature from Bangladesh side which garnered Malaysian support in recent past included CEDAW, Membership for the Human Rights Council, Director of IMSO, UNESCO External Auditor, IMO Executive Council, OPCW EC etc. Bangladesh on the other hand supported Malaysian candidatures at WMO, International Law Commission, UNEP, ITU, ICAO, IMO, UNESCO Executive Board and ECOSOC

Bangladesh and Malaysia held its first ever Foreign Office Consultation on May 2017 and on 28 February 2018 the 2ndForeign Office Consultation took place. Issues pertaining to bilateral trade, investment, manpower, consular and Rohingya matters were discussed. Malaysia has stood by Bangladesh as a tested friend throughout the recent outbreak of the Rohingya crisis in setting up a field hospital in Cox’s Bazar and also in creating international awareness to create pressure in resolving the problem quickly.

During the visit of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from 02-04 December 2014 one Agreement, two Memorandum of Understanding and one Protocol between Bangladesh and Malaysia were signed. These are: (i) Agreement between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on the Partial Abolition of Visa Requirements for Diplomatic and Official Passports; (ii) Protocol Amending the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on the Employment of Workers; (iii) MOU between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Cooperation in the field of Tourism; and (iv) MOU between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Cultural, Arts and Heritage Cooperation.

Malaysia’s rapid economic development, location and active participation in our immediate region, and its long-standing relationship with Bangladesh in many sphere makes Malaysia an important bilateral partner for our development. The bilateral relationship is diverse, with active and cooperative relations across a broad range of sectors. These include trade and investment, manpower, education, aviation, tourism, sports, defense, science and technology, narcotics control, human trafficking and newly emerging areas such as electronic commerce.The export figure from Bangladesh to Malaysia in 2017-18 is US$ 232.42 million. Direct Foreign Investment of Malaysia to Bangladesh in 2017 was US$ 677.81 million. Trade and investment between the two countries is flourishing while new areas are introduced.

A number of Agreements/MoU/Protocol and Agreed Minutes were signed between the two countries in different areas. These are as follows:

  • News Exchange Agreement concluded in August 1975
  • Trade Agreement concluded in December 1977
  • Cultural Co-operation Agreement concluded in April 1978
  • Air Services Agreement concluded in July 1978
  • Economic and Technical Co-operation Agreement concluded in April 1979
  • Money Order Agreement concluded in September 1979
  • Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement concluded in April 1983
  • Maritime Transport Agreement concluded in April 1983
  • Information Co-operation Agreement concluded in September 1994
  • Agreement on Investment Promotion and Protection between the two countries concluded in October 1994
  • Agreement on Youth & Sports Co-operation concluded in October 1994
  • Agreement on Cultural Exchange Program concluded in April 1978
  • Memorandum of Understanding for Recruitment of Bangladesh Workers concluded in October 2003.
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Anti Money Laundering provision was concluded between Bangladesh Bank and Malaysian central bank in 2012.
  • Memorandum of Understanding on recruitment of Bangladeshi worker on G-G basis was concluded in 2012
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Transnational Crime was concluded in 2012.
  • Agreement between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on the Partial Abolition of Visa Requirementswas concluded in December 2014.
  • MOU between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Cooperation in the field of Tourism was concluded in December 2014.
  • Protocol Amending the MOU of 2012 between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Bangladesh on the Employment of Workers was concluded in December 2014.
  • MOU between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Cultural, Arts and Heritage Cooperation was concluded in December 2014.
  • Protocol Amending the MOU of 2012 between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Bangladesh on the Employment of Workers was concluded in December 2014.
  • MOU between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Cultural, Arts and Heritage Cooperation was concluded in December 2014.
  • Agreed Minutes of the Fourth Meeting of the Joint Commission between Malaysia and Bangladesh was signed on 17 May 2015.
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on the employment of workers signed on 18 February 2016 in Dhaka
  • A Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and Malaysian consortium comprising Tenga National Berhad (TNB) and Powertek Energy SdnBerhad PESB) to build a project 1320 megawatt coal-fired power plant at Maheshkhali, Cox’s Bazar was signed on 20 July 2016.

The Malaysian Technical Cooperation Program (MTCP) has created opportunity for a good number of Government officials to participate in different training programs like ICT, Finance and Capacity Building Measures every year. Managed by the Economic Planning Unit of Prime Minister’s Department of Malaysia MTCP was launched in 1980 to promote and facilitate technical cooperation amongst developing countries based on the concept of self- reliance.

The mutual respect and appreciation of the two countries have led to pave a way of firmer cooperation and continued development. This will eventually lead to stronger bilateral relation, expansion of business relations, opening up of new business frontiers and positive intermingling of state and non-state actors.