Agency says Australia-Malaysia ties must go beyond trade

The Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre has said that it is essential that Australia's relationship with Malaysia moves beyond issues of trade and security if Australia is to become an effective regional neighbour with Malaysia,

The comments were made by Uniya Director Sr Patty Fawkner, who yesterday announced the publication of the agency's latest research paper in its View on Asia series. View on Malaysia in an examination of key factors that have shaped the direction of Malaysia's political and economic development since independence.

"Amity and co-operation have generally characterised Malaysian-Australian relations, despite some notable periods of tension," she said. "The visit last April by Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi indicates that the new Malaysian leadership is reasonably open and well-disposed to Australia with a free trade agreement between Australia and Malaysia already on the agenda."

"Yet, there are challenges facing both countries. In a post-Mahathir era, Malaysia continues to be confronted by opportunities and challenges, not the least of which are the demands posed by the steady rise of a politicised conservative Islam. And Australia is confronted with the balancing act of pursuing closer regional ties without damaging the alliance with the United States. Australia must also respond to terrorism without undermining its status as a country which prides itself in its multicultural identity and religious tolerance.

In announcing this new paper, Sr Fawkner said: "This background paper endeavours to increase Australian understanding of one of our regional neighbours. Yesterday's announcement that Australia has been officially invited to join the 11th ASEAN summit highlights the necessity for all Australians to have an informed knowledge of, and shared responsibility for the region. It is a positive step for Australia that the Government has announced its intention to accede to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Co-operation."

Australia-Malaysia relationship must move beyond trade: report (Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre 28/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
View on Malaysia (Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre July 2005) | Download Paper (PDF)

29 Jul 2005