22 March 2012

Opening remarks at joint press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister

Ban Ki-moon

It’s a great pleasure and honor for me to visit Malaysia as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Even though this is my first visit as the Secretary-General, I am a very strong admirer of the Malaysian people because I have been here many times in my previous capacity and I have been working very closely with the Malaysian Government and people.

While I’m here for a very brief stay, I am very impressed by all what they have achieved under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib, in terms of political and democratic maturity, in terms of socio-economic development and in terms of their contribution. As the Prime Minister just introduced, he has touched on a variety of issues, how United Nations and Malaysia, and how the United Nations and ASEAN can work together in addressing the many different challenges facing us, facing Malaysia and facing the United Nations. We discussed also the Global Movement of the Moderates, which is a vision to promote a mutual understanding and reconciliation, and raising tolerance towards different religions and different culture and tradition.

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country. Promoting unity among diversity, promoting one Malaysia among Malaysians is a great vision, not only for the Malaysian people, [but also] for the region. This is exactly what the United Nations tries to promote worldwide. And I really appreciate Prime Minister Najib’s leadership.

Earlier this morning before I came here, I addressed the Institute of Democracy and Foreign Relations with the theme “United Nations and Malaysia in a Changing World”.

We live in a turbulent time. The situation in Syria continues to be a major concern. While we have discussed the Middle East peace process. Syria is part of the Middle East peace process. And the stability and peace in the Middle East has quite an implication in the region and in the world. The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab Sates, Mr. Kofi Annan, continues to work to build the bridges that we will need for a dual settlement of s crisis. People are dying daily, families and all communities are being displaced and destroyed. I call again for violence to end and for a peaceful resolution of the crisis through dialogue and negotiation. Again, I call on Syrian authorities to allow unhindered humanitarian access so that the international community could deliver humanitarian assistance.

I was encouraged by the Security Council’s presidential statement which was adopted yesterday. This is a demonstration of unity, supporting the Special Envoy’s mission. I hope that this very clear, unmistakable message by the Security Council will be able to resolve this issue in a swift manner.

Malaysia is one of the middle-income countries, but the level of the development achieved can be shared with many countries. And I sincerely hope that Malaysia will continue to provide such wisdom, lessons and experiences to many other countries, not only in the region, but beyond the region. And I appreciate Malaysia’s strong commitment to participate in peacekeeping operations. Since 1960, Malaysia has been participating in 25 different peacekeeping operations, providing at least 20,000 young men and women for the purpose of peace. I appreciate that.

[I thank the Malaysian people for] all their sacrifices. I express my admiration and deep respect to their families and to the Government of Malaysia.

I am going to have an opportunity for visiting the Malaysian peacekeeping training centre which can also give good lessons, examples, to many other countries who are committed to peace.

Here in Malaysia, I sincerely hope that the electoral reform process will lead to a truly transparent credible system to the satisfaction of all Malaysians. I conveyed my wishes during my public speech this morning that all the concerns and aspirations of the Malaysian people, in this very multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural conditions will be truly met.

Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association are fundamental human rights and need to be respected in any democratic societies.

At this critical moment in history, when so much is at stake for people all over the world, I’m here to say to the Government and people of Malaysia, we need your ideas, your experiences and your continued commitment in addressing many difficult challenges.

Thank you very much, terima kasih.