February 9th, 2015 at University Kebangsaan Malaysia.
His Excellency Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamad.
Prof. Datuk Dr. Noor Azlan Ghazali, Vice chancellor of University Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Ladies and gentleman
A very good morning to all for your presence and thank you very much for accepting today invitation, dedicating part of yours valuable time to commemorate, together with us, the 40 Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and Malaysia.
A special gratefulness to the authorities of the University Kebangsaan Malaysia, to their Vice-chancellor and particularly to the Professor Dr. Rashila Ramli Director of IKMAS who has put all her persistence and cooperation in organizing this event.
A very particular recognition to Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for accepting the proposal of being the main speaker in this conference. Nobody like him to offer his perspective and considerations, as a witness and the decisive role played by him in the consolidation, extension and strengthening of these relations.
Diplomatic relations were established on 6 February 1975, Cuba opened its embassy in Kuala Lumpur on 1997, shortly after the first official visit to Cuba by the then Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir. Malaysia opened its representative office in Havana on 2001. Couldn’t open on the same year because of the Asian Financial Crisis that I´m Sure everybody remembers very well.
Our historic leader Fidel Castro visited Malaysia twice, first in 2001 and two years later during the celebration of the XIII NAM Summit in 2003, while Cuba's current President Raul Castro visited Malaysia in 2005, at that time, as First Vice President.
On the other hand, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad visited Cuba as Malaysia’s Prime Minister first in 1997 and then for the Summit of the South in 2000. Also Tun Dr. visited Cuba on private capacity, at least in one occasion in the year 2008. I´m very much aware of that visit because I was assigned to escort him.
Former Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi visited Cuba in 2004, and again in 2006 to participate in XIV NAM Summit.
We very much looks forward to the visit of Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abd Razak to Cuba in the near future, which will build a new step in our bilateral relations.
The exchange of visits at a high level is a demonstration of the good communication existing between our two governments, and the political will to continue and further develop our bilateral links.
Havana-Kuala Lumpur bilateral relations has strengthened in many ways and areas over the past years. These included trade, science, biotechnology, sports, education, medicine and culture. Both countries are members of Group of 77, Non-Aligned Movement United Nations and many others international organizations. Special relevance we attach to the permanent support from the Malaysian government to the resolution presented by Cuba every year, at the United Nations General Assembly, condemning the trade, economic and financial blockade imposed for more than half century by the United States government against Cuba.
There are many other events in the cooperation between our two countries throughout these 40 years, which involve diverse governmental and nongovernmental institutions, social organizations and personalities. Nevertheless, to mention them all, would make of these words a never ending list which is not the intention of these remarks.
The Cuban embassy in Kuala Lumpur, since opens in 1997 had placed importance on people-to-people relations as one of the top priorities to create greater understanding about Cuba among Malaysians.
In that context, the embassy with the cooperation of the public and private sector had initiated many programs such as Cuban arts and painting exhibitions, Cuban food fairs and movies, Cuban music and salsa performances, book fair and the opening of a Cuban art gallery in Melaka.
My country also provided scholarship for Malaysian students, 32 of them study medicine and already five have graduated and are back in their country. The Malaysian government institutions also provide training courses for Cuban officials on different specialties.
Having different political systems was not an obstacle to nurturing good relations, as both countries respected each other and shared similar views on many international issues.
It is very important, especially in this world of today, to have goodwill, friendship and mutual understanding between nations and the people. Malaysia and its people see Cuba in a positive and friendly way and we too see Malaysia in a friendly way, and this helps a lot in strengthening and enhancing our ties.
According to the stability in our relationship during this 40 years period, we are sure that the future of our links is very auspicious, and we are committed to work in that direction and to continue to achieve highest results.
Now please allow me to finish my remarks in order to give de floor to Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and listen to his always wise words.