KUALA LUMPUR: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah’s term as the 16th King will be remembered with fondness not only by the public at large but also the business community in particular.
During his five-year term, His Majesty undertook a series of official visits that sent a strong signal on the country’s political stability, thus giving Malaysia a positive boost in strengthening bilateral trade and economic relations with other countries.
During his various engagements, the outgoing King has emphasised the country’s strengths and promoted various investment opportunities to foreign leaders.
Al-Sultan Abdullah’s efforts provided a shot in the arm for the nation’s economy in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, helping the government to woo more foreign direct investments (FDI) and open up more opportunities for local businesses, including the small and medium enterprises, to expand abroad.
GOOD RAPPORT WITH FOREIGN LEADERS
Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid believes that Al-Sultan Abdullah’s extensive network with world leaders is a plus point.
“Their rapport certainly helped to open doors for active discussions with our ministers and the government machinery, which have resulted in positive FDI inflows to Malaysia.
“Furthermore, Malaysia is rich in culture and racial diversity which makes the country an attractive destination for foreign investors and our rulers, including Al-Sultan Abdullah, have certainly played an important role and catalyst,” he told Bernama.
Al-Sultan Abdullah was sworn in as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Jan 31, 2019, in a traditional ceremony and system of monarchy unique in the world, witnessed by the other Malay Rulers, their representatives, Yang Dipertuas Negeri, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers, among others.
His Majesty was elected by the Malay Rulers at the 251st (Special) Meeting of the Conference of Rulers at Istana Negara on Jan 24, 2019, following the unprecedented resignation of the Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad V, as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Jan 6, 2019.
STRENGTHENING BILATERAL RELATIONS VIA STATE VISITS
Al-Sultan Abdullah’s first state visit to Brunei Darussalam on Aug 21, 2019, following his installation as the 16th King reflected the strong and unique ties between the two countries through the Malay Sultanate connection.
Comptroller of the Royal Household of Istana Negara Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin summed up the state visit as one of the most unique starting points for the close relationship between the two Malay rulers.
During the visit, he said both heads of state expressed confidence that the spirit of brotherhood and close friendship between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia would continue.
Universiti Keusahawanan Koperasi Malaysia (UKKM) senior lecturer Associate Prof Dr Abu Sofian Yaacob said during his term, the King has made official visits to some countries that have made or are going to make investments/joint ventures here, including Turkiye and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
He said the visits were very good international public relations efforts, fostering a more cooperative and productive economic environment.
“I think the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will be most remembered for initiating the unity government after the 15th general election (GE15),” he said. There was initially no clear winner in GE15 in 2022 as no single coalition managed to obtain a simple majority.
According to Sofian, Al-Sultan Abdullah will also be remembered as the first-of-its-kind visit to Sabah and Sarawak where His Majesty interacted with the locals as never had been done by a King before.
“The King has also been very supportive of and encouraged our athletes both competing at home and abroad. He also has attended many national events that saw the nation’s diversity blended into one race and nation,” he said.
BOOSTING FDI FROM THE MIDDLE EAST
During an official visit to Saudi Arabia in June last year, Al-Sultan Abdullah once again expressed hope that both countries will further enhance and strengthen their bilateral relations and the unity of the ummah.
“In the hour-long ceremony, His Majesty exchanged views with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on various matters, including the bilateral relations that have been closely and specially established between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia,” according to a post on the Istana Negara’s Facebook page.
Dr Ahmed Razman, director of MBA programmes and associate professor at Putra Business School, said Al-Sultan Abdullah’s role in boosting the FDI investments, especially from countries in the Middle East, is significant and cannot be overlooked.
He said this was due to longstanding and very good relationships between the Malaysian and Arab monarchies as well as sharing the same religious beliefs.
“This fosters deep trust and kinship for both parties and puts Malaysia among the high priority and most favoured countries to receive FDI from these Middle East countries,” he said.
Just last month, His Majesty also undertook a special visit to Dubai, UAE, in conjunction with the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change where, among others, he witnessed the exchange of documents on renewable energy investments in Malaysia after opening the Malaysian Pavilion.
PROMOTING LOCAL INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES
In globally promoting investment opportunities in Malaysia, His Majesty has been actively inviting international businesses as well as governments, through their respective leaders and officials, to invest and collaborate with businesses here.
For example, in November last year, during a state banquet in honour of the visiting Prince Albert II of Monaco and his delegation at Istana Negara, Al-Sultan Abdullah remarked on the myriad of opportunities for collaboration that can be explored between Malaysia and Monaco.
The King said the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 2009 has opened up abundant opportunities and potentials to be explored.
“From scientific endeavours to marine-related pursuits, there are countless opportunities for collaboration and growth that we are eager to explore. Trade and investment are also another promising and vital aspect in our bilateral relations,” said His Majesty. – Bernama