Our tree of prosperity is palm oil

Updated: Mar 31 2008, 05:04am hrs
Bordered by Thailand in the north and Singapore in the south, Malaysia is separated from Indonesia by the Straits of Melaka in the West. Malaysias unspoilt beauty and tranquility, its beautiful beaches, mountain resorts and forests are enchanting. With a population of 26 million, Malaysia is a cosmopolitan country, comprising people of many races, cultures and religions. They are Malay, Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, people with mixed heritage and others. The Indians in Malaysia, comprising 8%-9% of the total population are largely of South Indian origin, namely from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, with a minority from other parts of India like Punjab and Gujarat. Malaysians are by nature friendly people and welcome foreigners to visit the land. They smile easily and are warm and hospitable to their guests. Malaysian High Commissioner Dato Tan Seng Sung discusses various other facets of the country in a conversation with Monalisa Sen. Excerpts:

A tourist spot

The distance between both India and Malaysia is not too great. It is five hours away from New Delhi and four hours from Mumbai.

Both the countries have strong bilateral relations and work closely to promote mutual national interest. Malaysian Airlines, Jet Airways, Air India and Indian Airlines have flights to Malaysia from New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Last year around half a million people visited Malaysia from India alone and the same number is expected this year too.

Today the country is also a popular venue for conferences, honeymoon and shopping. Indian investors have also bought houses in Malaysia under the Malaysia my second home programme. The famous marketing punch line that makes the country famous and popular is Malaysia truly Asia.

Administrative System

Malaysia aims to be a developed nation by 2020. Our small cities are fairly developed and we have an efficient and non-corrupt administrative system one.

Crafts

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country where people of different religions, culture and race live in a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere. The diverse culture of the country is reflected through the arts and crafts. Batik, pewter making, kite flying and weaving are the popular ones. Besides cotton, silk is used in Batik printing and the designs are both modern and traditional, to suit all tastes. Since Malaysia has the worlds largest reserves of tin, so it produces the worlds finest pewter.

Food

Malaysias multi-racial society produces a wide range of tasty food ranging from Malay, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Portugese and other western cuisine. One gets a lot of variety; spicy Malay food, endless variety of Chinese food, and exotic cuisine from north and south India. Fresh coconut milk is often added in Malay, Thai and Indian dishes. Fish and seafood is popular among all the races in Malaysia besides chicken and other meat.

Healthcare

Malaysia has a good healthcare system in which the private sector plays a significant role. Healthcare provided by the public sector is largely subsidised by the government and many tourists from developed countries go to Malaysia for medical treatment.

Natural Resource

Malaysia is still the largest producer and exporter of palm oil and its products. Palm oil has been Malaysias Tree of Prosperity and is a major foreign exchange earner, employing some 400,000 people.