The Philippine Embassy in Beijing has reminded all Filipinos in China to comply with the conditions and restrictions of their visas to avoid arrest, prosecution, detention, deportation and blacklisting in the host country.
In a statement, the embassy noted that about 200 foreigners were expelled from China in 2013. Out of this number, 48 or 24% were Filipinos.
The Filipinos were apprehended and detained for holding spurious Chinese
visas or forged passports, working without proper employment visas and
permits, assuming false identity, and overstaying in the country.
Some were arrested for illegally entering China then using it as jumping-off
point for travel to other countries.
The embassy’s information campaign sought to increase the Filipinos’ awareness of Chinese immigration policies, particularly rules for foreigners entering the country on a visitor or tourist visa.
The salient points of the campaignfollow:
1. Filipinos should respect the laws of China and observe the
restrictions of their visas. If their visa is for tourism purposes
only, they should not engage in any employment without proper visa
or permit, whether they are compensated or not.
2. They should not be involved in any unlawful activities or criminal
acts, such as illegal drugs trade and prostitution.
3. They should return to the Philippines on or before the expiry of
their authorized period of stay in China to avoid violating
immigration and labor regulations of that country.
This is in the spirit of “Welcome” to the new Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianua. I’ll highlight the significant elements from the excellent 4,862 word article written by the Chinese Embassy in Manila’s spokesperson and deputy chief of the Political Section, Mr. Zhang Hwa, in response to the Philippine’s filing of its “memorial” to the Arbitral Tribunal.
The Chinese Embassy spokesman’s paper made ten essential points:
1) The Philippines’ push for international arbitration undermined China-Philippines relations as it disregards China’s position;
2) China does not accept the arbitration because “direct negotiations is the most common and preferred way to resolve such disputes… “ and China has successfully solved the boundary issues with 12 of its land neighbors…. 20,000 kms. Of boundary… In 2000, China and Vietnam equitably delineated the maritime boundary in the Beibu Gulf and …. signed the Agreement on Fishery Cooperation….China sees no reason to abandon such successful practices….” Refusal of arbitration is a right under international law which many invoke, denying China this right is “double standard”;
3) China wishes disputes to be settled through bilateral negotiations … “Forcing the arbitration is not conducive to the settlement … “;
4) China’s Basic Position on the South China Sea issue… “the Chinese side has always adhered to resolving relevant disputes with sovereign states directly concerned…. through consultations and negotiations. … and conforms to the consensus that China and ASEAN countries reached in the DOC (Declaration of Conduct)… “;
5) On “The Nature of China-Philippines Disputes… China…. was the first to discover, name, develop and operate on the Nansha Islands….exercised… sovereign jurisdiction….Philippines’ territory was determined by a series of international treaties,… (that) state that the border line of… .the Philippines is 118° East in longitude.… Nansha … and the Huangyan… do not lie within…”
Distance Is Not Relevant
“Some people believe that these islands and reefs are closer to the Philippines, and therefore they belong to the Philippines. This has no basis in international law. Geographical proximity has never been a criterion that determines the ownership of territory. Many countries in the world possess territories far away from their mainland or closer to other countries. .…” 6) Focuses on previous “Consensus” reached in agreements between China and the Philippines … the Joint Statement-PRC-RP Consultations on the South China Sea …. in August 1995 …. The Joint Statement between China and the Philippines on the Framework of Bilateral Cooperation… in May 2000… In 2002, China and the ASEAN… signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties…. (DOC),… adhering to negotiations as the mode and not arbitration.
Territories Lost In R.P. Maps
The 7th, on the Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) issue, the paper states “The Philippines once clearly stated that the island is not within its territory. First, a series of international treaties defining the domain of the Philippine territory provide that the Huangyan Island is outside the territory of the Philippines. The then Philippine ambassador to Germany explicitly stated in 1990 in his letter to German radio amateurs that the Huangyan Island is not within the territory of the Philippines. The documents issued in 1994 by the Philippine National Mapping and Resources Authority …. all confirmed …. The Philippine official map issued in 2011 also marked the Huangyan Island outside the Philippine territorial border limits.”
The 8th point on “The Issue of Ren’ai Reef (Second Thomas Shoal)” recalls the commitments of previous Philippine government administrations to “tow away” the stranded Philippine navy derelict there. But the DFA, China states, “on March 14 openly stated the vessel ‘grounded’ 15 years ago was actually meant to occupy the reef, which proves that the Philippine side has been lying for 15 years….The sitting Philippine government was not the one 15 years ago, but as a country, the Philippines is obliged to honor its commitment. A public denial …. will make it lose credibility to the international community.” The 9th point, “Freedom and Safety of Navigation”, states that the “…South China Sea is the main sealane for China’s trade and transportation .… actions taken by China in safeguarding its sovereignty and maritime interests …. do not affect other countries’ freedom of navigation and overflight….”
South China Sea Peace
The paper ends with a Commitment of China to “a South China Sea of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation”, highlighting a measure it proposes to the harmonious climate over the shared waters: China setting up US $ 500-Million maritime cooperation fund to promote maritime cooperation, science, navigation, safety, connectivity, and combating transnational crime; and establishment of a maritime emergency hotline. It concludes: “So long as all parties earnestly implement relevant consensus, adhere to consultations and negotiations, promote practical maritime cooperation and joint development, the South China Sea will become a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation. “
The winds of change in the China-Philippines relations seem to be rallying on change not only in theory but in reality. The surest sign of this was revealed in the April 2 AIM forum “Understanding 21st Century China: All Under Heaven?” sponsored by such big-named institutions as Asia Society, Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association of the Philippines, Tufts Fletcher School Alumni Association-Philippines, the hangers-on Ramos Peace and Development Foundation Inc. (where did FVR get the money?), and Former Senior Government Officials (hangers-on to hangers-on-governments dragged along by Uncle Sam). Three speakers highlighted the forum: Prof. Marwyn Samuels of Syracuse University ; Dr. Liping Zheng of the Asian Development Bank; and Chito Sta. Romana , the fountainhead of wisdom on China for Filipinos.
Public reactions at the forum were emailed to us by Internet journalist Jerry Quibilan: from Alex to Jerry : “I noticed something very different from the forum today compared to the forum of anti-China activist Raffy Alunan, Roilo Golez and President Ramos also at the AIM in December … They got ex-commodores and ex-commanders of the US 7th Fleet to tell us Filipinos we have to prepare for war with China and shed our blood …We got videos on recycled airplanes and ships to buy for the coming war with China… videos on the Korean war where 10,000 Filipinos allegedly killed 40,000 Chinese. Today President Ramos laughed at the Philippines’ decision to buy 12 new jet planes …. That shook me up. My impression is that Raffy Alunan and President Ramos have noticeably lost their belligerence … They were as nice to China as apple pie. Both said Filipinos should try to understand China and restore normal relations soonest. I am quite puzzled to say the least.”
I suggested an answer to Puzzled Alex: The P20-billion deal to buy the used FA-50 from South Korea has already been signed and sealed; and so the syndicate can now relax the propaganda scare-mongering. Then came this quip from one reactor in the forum, Wilson Lee Flores: “We were colonized four times–the Spanish, the British, the Americans, and the Japanese … Filipinos were killed and …. plundered. On the other hand, what have the Chinese done in over a thousand years here? They just traded and gave us siopao, siomai, mami, and lomi.”
(Tune in to “Sulo ng Pilipino” on 1098 AM, dwAD, Tuesday to Friday, 5 p.m.; catch GNN’s Talk News TV with HTL on Destiny Cable Channel 8, SkyCable Channel 213, and http://www.gnntv-asia.com, Saturday, 8:00 p.m. and replay Sunday, 8 a.m., this week on “Meralco siphoning capital out of the country” with Butch Junia and “Consumer protection groups: Unite!”; visit http://newsulongpilipino.blogspot.com; text your reactions to 0917-8658664)
Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto F. Del Rosario exchanged notes for three (3) Grant Aid Projects amounting to 6.917 billion yen (approximately 3.041 billion pesos) on March 20/24, 2014 at the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.
The signed projects focus on rehabilitation and improvement in the fields of infrastructure and communications.
Programme for Rehabilitation and Recovery from Typhoon Yolanda
In the summit meeting with President Aquino last December, Japanese Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan would continue to extend support in the recovery and reconstruction phase. This project amounting to 4.6 billion yen (approximately 2.02 billion pesos) will provide Japan’s reliable disaster-resilient technology and urban planning in the rehabilitation of public infrastructure in Leyte and Samar in order to further the recovery of the people and communities severely affected by Typhoon Yolanda. Through this programme, Japan helps the Philippines to build a resilient society against natural disasters and achieve sustainable growth.
Project for Enhancement of Communications Systems
This project amounting to 1.152 billion yen (approximately 506.5 million pesos) will provide the installation of the VSAT Communication System and the INMARSAT Communication System in the headquarters of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and its district offices and vessels as well as the establishment of the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) in Cebu’s Mactan Channel. This project aims to improve the communications capabilities of the PCG and enhance the safety, search and rescue activities in the Philippines.
Project for Improvement of Water Supply System in Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD)
This project amounting to 1.165 billion yen (approximately 512.2 million pesos) will involve the installation of flow meters, pressure meters, and water quality sensors that will be monitored using the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA). SCADA will ensure the efficient and effective water supply management of the MCWD within Metropolitan Cebu.
Owing to the disasters of last year and the relentless efforts of the Government of the Philippines to propel the Philippines toward progress, the Government of Japan sincerely extends its support to a friend in need. Japan believes that these projects will signify its unflagging commitment to the “Strategic Partnership” between the two countries and continue to strengthen the friendship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines.
Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has urged Filipinos to join millions around the world in marking Earth Hour by switching off the lights in support of a global campaign to combat climate change, which has been cited as possible culprit behind mega-storms like Yolanda.
Paje said the country’s experience with Yolanda gives every citizen more reason to take part in the observance of Earth Hour on March 29 from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening.
“The overwhelming devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda serves to remind us that climate change is a serious issue that we can’t simply ignore and a global event such as Earth Hour is a valuable tool to raise awareness of climate change and environmental issues,” Paje said.
Dubbed as the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world, Earth Hour is held every last Saturday of March on the initiative of the Washington-based environmental group World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). Those participating in Earth Hour will shut off all lights and used appliances and electronics in support of efforts to solve the problems related to climate change and global warming.
“An hour of voluntary darkness will help us tame climate change,” Paje said.
Since it first joined the event in 2009, the Philippines has consistently registered the most number of participating towns and cities, earning the distinction as an “Earth Hour Hero Country.”
This year, the country was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the first ever “Earth Hour Blue,” an international crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing effort initiated by the WWF that aims to provide bancas for Yolanda victims.
Under the project, coastal communities affected by the super typhoon would be provided with resources to build new and efficient non-motorized boats with fiberglass-reinforced plastic hulls. The construction of the first 60 boats is expected to be completed by mid-April.
Paje lauded the project for using a technology that is earth-friendly as it eliminates the need to use wood sourced from forests.
“The project will leave no carbon footprint and will encourage fisherfolk to engage in sustainable small-scale fishing,” he said.
Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million residents switch off the lights of their homes and offices in order to pledge their support to saving the environment. The trend soon caught on and several other countries participated across the globe in the initiative. At present, there are more than 150 countries that actively observe Earth Hour every year.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently received an Indian business mission to the Philippines that intends to explore potential business opportunities, and possibly locate and expand their operations in the country.
During the mission member’s courtesy call, Domingo noted the resurgence of the manufacturing sector in the Philippines, and the growth of capital formation in the gross domestic product (GDP) by 18 percent.
The mission was organized through the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in New Delhi and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Domingo also noted that this mission is his second meeting with the FICCI. The first was during the First India-ASEAN Business Fair and Business Conclave in New Delhi, India in March 2011.
The FICCI is the oldest and largest top business organization in India. The history of FICCI is interwoven in India’s struggle for independence, industrialization, and emergence as one of the rapidly growing economies.
The FICCI has members from India’s corporate sector, including multi-national corporation (MNC), and enjoys an indirect membership of over 250,000 companies from various regional chambers of commerce.
“India is a huge market. The distribution is excellent and you just have to find the right partner,” said Kapil Rampal, deputy head of the delegation and director of the Ivory Education Pvt. Ltd., during the DTI business forum on doing business in the Philippines.
Rampal also mentioned investment interests in pharmaceuticals, bio and thermal energy (From Rampal’s presentation), motorcycles and auto parts, mining, infrastructure, and space and defense related industry.
Rampal added that the possibilities are more than enough, and suggested to look at possibilities of collaboration and be competitive at the global level.
During the business forum, Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP) Director Senen M. Perlada said that both countries can do so much, and noted that Philippine exports to India only accounted for 0.54 percent of Philippine total exports in 2013.
Total trade between the two countries grew by 8.7 percent, export by 8.6 percent, and import by 4.8 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to BETP data.
Perlada also mentioned possible products for promotion in India such as motor vehicle parts, electronic components, sanitary articles of paper (i.e. diaper, toilet paper), personal care products, high-end furniture, and garments.
Likewise, Board of Investments’ (BOI) International Marketing Department Director Angie M. Cayas mentioned the following sectors for promotion to India: public–private partnership (PPP) projects, information technology and business process management (IT-BPM), tourism related investments, and other areas of investments such as the Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000, particularly categories B and D.
In an interview, PTIC in New Delhi Commercial Attaché John Paul B. Iñigo said that the delegation is happy, and anticipates another group coming to the Philippines in the next six months.
The 14-member business delegation is composed of companies from sectors such as agriculture, hotel, hospitality, education, infrastructure, airport, food products and textile.
At present, the following Indian companies have presence in the Philippines: Aditya Birla Minacs Philippines Inc., Hinduja Global Solutions Limited, L&T Infotech, Biostadt India, Lupin Ltd., State Bank of India, The New india Assurance Co. Ltd., Wipro BPO Phils. Ltd., Infosys BPO Ltd., Zydus Cadila, Claris Lifesciences Ltd, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Technologies, Wipro, Cognizant, HCL Technologies, Genpact Intelenet Global Services, Tech Mahindra, Aegis Ltd. (People Support), WNS Global Services, Syntel Inc., Apatech Ltd., Headstrong, Interglobe Technologies, Virtusa, and Tata Motors.
ONE more year and the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are gearing towards freer and wider market in its Economic Integration pushing for the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Such countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia; with China, Japan, and South Korea in the ASEAN Plus.
To those who are not so familiar with the ASEAN Economic Integration, let me put it in simple terms – “free-flow”. With it, people would be allowed to purchase, sell products and services, work and invest in any of the member countries of the ASEAN with lesser restrictions unlike what we are used to – strict protectionism. Instead of having to spend so much in terms of tariffs and complying with bloody requirements, strict procedures and other trade burdens, trading would be a lot easier, because the aim of the ASEAN is to have zero or near zero trade barriers. This would be enjoyed by all ASEAN member countries. In addition, Southeast Asians wanting to work overseas (in ASEAN countries) would experience easier processes. Free-flow of work-force would happen. Investors could capitalize their resources freely as they expand from one nation to another nation in the ASEAN.
Entrepreneurs would directly benefit from the ASEAN Economic Integration. There is a lot to be excited about for them.
The Philippines would be able to compete in the global setting through the one market and production base of the ASEAN. In this sense, there would be unity and more productivity among the member countries. Ironically, as member countries compete in terms of the ability to offer lower prices to consumers brought by removing or lessening trade barriers, the whole of ASEAN could benefit as a group – bonded together in creating economic progress. The free-flow would give reason for entrepreneurs to be able to cut costs for their production materials, equipment and manpower, because they would be able to get it at significantly cheaper amounts. They could have the needed edge to compete with the other larger companies in the whole world.
At a regional scale, the lending and borrowing from banks would be easier as it would have to adjust with the changes and accompany the needs for capitalization of entrepreneurs. I believe that bank transactions between and among ASEAN countries would be a lot busier compared before and it would mean significant money coming in and out of the country.
The country’s local government units (LGUs) are being improved to become business-friendly and competitive. LGUs have programs that streamline Business Permits and Licensing System (BPLS) and develop the economy through the Local Economic Development (LED) programs. In this way, the country’s budding entrepreneurs who would like to take the opportunity to do business in the ASEAN would have better access to acquire the necessary documents they need to possess in order to establish legitimate enterprises.
Free-flow could not flourish if not for state-of-the-art infrastructure as well. Entrepreneurs know the hassle of transporting precious goods from one point to another. Even though we already have some notable infrastructure, there is still so much that need to be improved. With the ASEAN Economic Integration, lagging behind would not be an option. The budget and plans in developing infrastructure would have to be applied, so that the country would be able to connect with the member nations internally and externally – roads, bridges and ports would have to be made. Entrepreneurs would be able to transport their products in the country more safely and accessibly, in all of its provinces and cities and of course out of the country to all other ASEAN countries. Consequently, entrepreneurs that focus on the tourism sector would benefit from the ease of travel. Good news for all businesses in our tourist spots.
The ASEAN Economic Integration would also mean more opportunities for the country to develop its communications and information technology facilities. In this age of high technology, entrepreneurs could benefit even more from the World Wide Web when they try to compete with the tigers and reach their customers in the global setting. We know of it as entrepreneurs have established their on-line stores which are gaining more and more attention from customers who would rather remain in the comforts of their homes and order the latest products at best deals! Entrepreneurs who are home-based and who are mostly just starting up do business on-line. Why not? Communications brought by the internet has proven to be very effective and efficient.
With free-flow, the market is even wider and tougher and we could expect even greater – tons of exportation and importation dealings happening from one corner of the world to another with the use of the internet. Imagine how else entrepreneurs could speed up the increase of their sales, but with the use of the continually developing communications and information technology! Almost everything could be just one click away from happening. In order to “go with the flow”, the free-flow would have to be accompanied with improved communications and information technology.
Investors coming in the country for expansion would provide entrepreneurs that sub-contract for more opportunities to do business. Entrepreneurs who would like to invest in another ASEAN country would be encouraged and would enjoy none, if not fewer restrictions.
The Philippines would have to adjust and better its competitiveness as it would need to keep up with the requirements of the AEC and integrate with all member countries. There would be no other sensible way, but to improve. Sink or swim they say, but I am confident, our country’s entrepreneurs would have what it takes to take advantage of the free-flow and run with the tigers.
“Rising as one: The Filipino Nation Towards The ASEAN Economic Integration” by Local Government Academy
The Philippines is not ready for the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) in 2015. The Initiative for ASEAN Integration refers to reducing various forms of disparities among and within member States where some pockets of underdevelopment persist, which could narrow the development gap in the region.
With the integration, people would be allowed to purchase, sell products and services, work and invest in any of the member countries of the ASEAN with lesser restrictions unlike strict protectionism. This would be enjoyed by all ASEAN member countries.
But according to Asian Development Bank, the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will likely not be attained by 2015. Although various reasons were cited for the continued difficulties of attaining the AEC targets, what stands out is the unawareness of the private sector.
Since 2010 when this integration was first hatched, the Philippine government failed to prepare for it. In trade relations alone, where products are supposed to be exported to a less-restricted environment, the recipient chooses which products to accept or to reject. Naturally the more superior product in terms of quality and price are allowed into the member country. How can we export cheaper products when the cost of production is high? Electricity and labor costs, which are factors to production, are high.
Also, promoting greater mobility of skilled workers and better regulation and management of unskilled labor movements are to be addressed. In the Philippines, unemployment and underemployment are pervasive. Skills do not commensurate with job requirements. Can we compete with our ASEAN neighbors in the labor market?
What about our infrastructure?
There are so many things that we have to prepare for in order to be competitive. If we are not competitive, what benefit can the Initiative for ASEAN Integration do for us? Nada.
WHAT seems evident is that China is taking small but provocative steps to assert her sovereignty over what we call the West Philippine Sea by shooing away the fishermen and some of our naval vessels who were sent to resupply some of our troops. She knows that we are no match for her much more modern and fully equipped naval vessels and so when she pushed, we backed away. She is obviously testing the waters by escalating her control over the shoals and the sea.
It would seem that what we will likely see over the next several months will be more provocative actions from China but actions carefully calibrated not to produce a reaction from the US. China in all likelihood feels, and correctly, that the US for all of the rhetoric is not eager to engage China in these waters, what with the Crimean problem the US is also facing.
In this latter case, Crimea is at the border of Russia and it was easy for Russia to mobilize forces apart from the fact that it would seem there is much Crimean sympathy to reconnect with Russia. Of course, historically, Crimea was part of Russia until her recent collapse and dismemberment.
I frankly don’t believe Russia will give in at all for all the sanction threats and other actions that Obama might threaten Russia with from 10,000 miles away. But for the US to take military action seems far-fetched. Maybe many condemning speeches at the UN. But they can’t even pass a resolution at the UN Security Council because Russia is a permanent member who will veto any such resolution.
So the carefully controlled actions of China in the South Asian seas will use minimum force, or no force at all, just threats and bluffs and sneaky moves which she has been doing anyway from quite a few years back. It will be more of simply establishing her presence because we are incapable of doing the same or resisting such efforts and our getting used to it.
Troops in small islets or shoals are ineffective if unable to move or realistically defend themselves when push comes to shove. All of these moves gain for China the dominion of the seas and the islets and shoals even if not overt total control which they have as an objective. This is the pragmatic element of China’s moves in the area. While the US appetite for confrontation is weak, China realizes that militarily they are still behind the US in rather important ways.
Furthermore, more military actions at this time can hasten the establishment of US forces here in the Far East which would make China’s objective, total South Asian hegemony a much more difficult objective. In sum, the conclusion for the moment seems to be one little step at a time while it is not yet easily quantifiable what the consequences of reckless action on China’s part might trigger. In other words, presently China has more to lose should a shooting war break out. But that will not always be the case. By 2020 or even a little earlier, the equation might be truly different. The Chinese economy will likely overtake the US by or before then, and the military equation might well be tipped more in China’s favor as the US downsizes her forces and China keeps on aggressively expanding her capabilities.
Can technology make up for a smaller military size so that the US can stay significantly ahead of China? Some Israeli senior cabinet member, obviously with the PM’s blessing said that the US is showing a weak posture to the world and many people are questioning the value of US commitments overseas.
Pres. Obama is supposed to come to our shores soon and we are shortly supposed to have some agreement about co-sharing our military bases with her. I am not sure exactly what it means. Co-sharing the bases is rather impractical to begin with and it would be very hard for our AFP to retain control of our military bases when used by two sovereign nations and one is much more competent and better equipped than the other.
Will the US flag fly under the Philippine flag or will the flags fly together? Will the situation be like in corporations, there will be two co-equal heads? It looks like a situation looking for trouble. Of course, others might argue and say what choice do we really have? We can’t play ball with China, she wants to eat us up. All the rhetoric about mutual respect and friendship is just that, rhetoric! Well, the outcome seems not too difficult to predict. The US will not risk a bloody confrontation with China.
I wish that cooler heads handled this problem with China without handing the seas to China without a whimper from the start and did not add to the heat of the day with ill considered if not bravado statements. If both sides end up boxed in a tight corner, everyone’s guess about the outcome will be just as good as any other! But I suggest this is time for some contingency planning on a rather wide level. We cannot see the problem as something only affecting the seas. We will see a few other areas regarding our domestic economy that need to truly plan ahead with wisdom and determination.
By Dong Maraya
Recently a Filipino citizen living in Manila has laid claim—as sultan of Sulu—to the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo. Jamalul Kiram III’s claim is based on a token rent which Malaysia pays the royal house of Sulu for the use of Sabah. Calling themselves the Royal Army of Sulu, the clan members said they were descendants of the Sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines, which ruled parts of northern Borneo for centuries.
The February 2013 invasion by more than 200 Filipinos seemed to take both the Philippines and Malaysia by surprise. At least 60 have been killed in the ongoing conflict. The Malaysian government has been forced to take the worsening situation seriously, and launched an offensive on March 5, which included fighter jet air support.
However, the Sabah intrusion did not damage ties between Malaysia and the Philippines. Nevertheless, both sides should increase their mutual engagement in the business, economic and cultural spheres. The Philippines is maintaining close ties with Malaysia despite the siege.
“There has been no strain with our relationship in Malaysia. We recognize that this was an attempt by a few that should not affect the relationship of the whole,” a Philippine government official said in a news briefing.
Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometers (127,350 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. Land borders are shared with Thailand, Indonesia, and Brunei, and maritime borders exist with Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. In 2010 the population was 28.33 million, with 22.6 million living on the Peninsula.
The independent state of Malaysia came into existence on Sept. 16, 1963, as a federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak. In 1965, Singapore withdrew from the federation to become a separate nation. Since 1966, the 11 states of former Malaya have been known as West Malaysia, and Sabah and Sarawak as East Malaysia.
The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in politics. The government system is closely modeled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on common law. The head of state is the king, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is an elected monarch chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the Prime Minister.
By the late 1960s, Malaysia was torn by rioting directed against Chinese and Indians, who controlled a disproportionate share of the country’s wealth. Beginning in 1968, it was the government’s goal to achieve greater economic balance through a national economic policy.
Since its independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5% for almost 50 years. The economy has traditionally been fueled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. Today, Malaysia has a newly industrializedmarket economy, ranked third largest in Southeast Asia and 29th largest in the world.
Malaysia’s foreign policy is officially based on the principle of neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries, regardless of their political system. The government attaches a high priority to the security and stability of Southeast Asia, and seeks to further develop relations with other countries in the region.
Malaysia is a relatively open state-oriented and newly industrializedmarket economy. The state plays a significant but declining role in guiding economic activity through macroeconomic plans. In the 1970s, the predominantly mining and agricultural-based economy began a transition towards a more multi-sector economy.
International trade and manufacturing are the key sectors. Malaysia is an exporter of natural and agricultural resources, and petroleum is a major export. Malaysia has once been the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world.
In an effort to diversify the economy and make it less dependent on export goods, the government has pushed to increase tourism to Malaysia. As a result, tourism has become Malaysia’s third largest source of foreign exchange, although it is threatened by the negative effects of the growing industrial economy, with large amounts of air and water pollution along with deforestation affecting tourism. In the 1980s, Dr. Mohamad Mahathir succeeded Datuk Hussein as prime minister. Mahathir instituted economic reforms that would transform Malaysia into one of the so-called Asian Tigers.
Beginning in 1997 and continuing through the next year, Malaysia suffered from the Asian currency crisis. Instead of following the economic prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the prime minister opted for fixed exchange rates and capital controls. In late 1999, Malaysia was on the road to economic recovery, and it appeared Mahathir’s measures were working.
The Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Ibrahim Saad is from the northern state of Penang, a highly developed city also known as the Silicon City of Malaysia. Industrialized as it may be now, Penang is also a recognized UNESCO Heritage Site. Dr. Saad stressed that he has one wife with whom he has two sons and three daughters and he is currently doting on his four grandchildren. Though the family members are based in Malaysia, they make it a point to come once in a while as they love the surfing and diving in the country. In fact, he says, they just love the Philippines.
Dr. Ibrahim Saad is not a career diplomat. He started out in the academe, graduating with a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Wisconsin in America. He later on joined the government as a member of the State Assembly, became a deputy chief minister of and vice governor of Penang before he moved to a higher post in the Prime Minister’s department. Perhaps the call of the academe proved stronger then, because he left politics again and went back to the world of academe, becoming vice chancellor and president of a prestigious university in his beloved city until the government recalled him into active service and he accepted the post of Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines in 2010.
Malaysia is essentially a highly industrialized and developed country, and many tourists come to their shores to shop at high-end stores. They recently launched Luxury Malaysia in the country which extols their relatively cheap shopping because only gas, glasses, drinks, cigarettes and chocolates are taxed.
With a population of 25 million people and an economy that is steadfastly registering a double-digit growth (they have a per capita income of US$8,000) Malaysia needs a lot of manpower which the Philippines can provide. Currently, they have one million foreigners with work permits in Malaysia, and they are in the process of regularizing another one million workers.