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Statement by Malaysia to the Twenty-Eighth Session of the IFAD Governing Council

Mr. Chairman,
Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,

At the outset, allow me to join my other colleagues in congratulating you on your unanimous election as the Chairman of the IFAD Governing Council. My Delegation is confident of your able leadership in guiding the Governing Council to a successful conclusion.

My Delegation would also like to join others in welcoming the Republic of Kiribati as the new member of IFAD. Malaysia believes that the number of developing countries joining IFAD as new members is a clear demonstration of IFAD's positive role in assisting developing countries in their agricultural development.

Mr. Chairman,

December 26 2004 is a date that will be etched on the minds of people all over the world. On that day, the world was witness to one of the worst tragedies to hit humankind. It also saw unprecedented global cooperation on a scale never seen before.

Malaysia fortunately was not as badly affected by the disaster as other nations in the region. Although the fishing and agriculture sector were affected, the government of Malaysia embarked on plans to assist those affected by providing financial assistance and loans and for reconstruction of infrastructure damaged by the disaster. Malaysia is also prepared to assist in the redevelopment programme of countries affected by the tsunami. Malaysia would like to commend IFAD for its action plan for tsunami hit countries. While the immediate needs for relief have been met to a large extent, long term programmes are vital if countries are to recover from their losses and regain lost ground.

Mr. Chairman,

The adoption of the Millennium Declaration at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000 in many ways created a fundamental paradigm shift for global cooperation in the 21st century. The declaration placed a high premium on cooperating for the world's resources. The Millennium Declaration, among other things, made a strong commitment to the right for development, to gender equality and the empowerment of women, to the eradication of the many dimension of poverty, as well as to sustainable human development.

Malaysia's development policy has always focused on the fact that growth is not be pursued as an end in itself. In a plural society like ours, it is important to ensure that national unity and social harmony remain the overriding objective of national development. Only in an environment of peace and stability can economic growth be generated and sustained. Growth also needs to be accompanied by equitable distribution of the nation's wealth, so that all segments of society benefit from the development process. It must also be people centred and people powered if development policies are to succeed.

Early in its history, Malaysia had made poverty eradication a key component of its development policy. The government identified several socio-economic goals consistent with what are now the Millennium Development Goals. The New Economic Policy (NEP) formulated in 1970 had as its primary aims the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty. This was to be done by raising income levels as well as increasing employment opportunities for all Malaysians and to restructure Malaysian society to correct economic imbalances, so that all could have a share and participate fully in economic growth.

In 1990 we adopted the National Development Policy (NDP), which maintained the basic strategies of the NEP but introduced several significant shifts in specific policies to eradicate hard-core poverty; by increasing the participation of bumiputera and indigenous people in the modern sectors to generate economic growth and income: and emphasising human resource development by investing heavily in education and health. Strong emphasis was placed on agricultural and rural development and value added aspects of the agriculture sector; labour-intensive export industrialization. Our policies have succeeded in generating full employment and today Malaysia is host to more than one million foreign workers. Women hold high positions in both government and private sector and play a key role in the whole development process. It can therefore be said that Malaysia has been successful in achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals before the 2015 dateline. Other challenges such as combating HIV/AIDS and the conservation remain a priority.

Mr. Chairman,

The Millennium Development Goals are not unrealistic ones, and based on Malaysia's experience, can largely be achieved. It is my sincere hope that Malaysia's experience could provide some useful lessons for other developing countries, particularly those with similar economic backgrounds. As we strive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, there will be plenty of challenges ahead. But if we are prepared to work together, overcoming these challenges would not be insurmountable.

Developing countries need to adopt a 2 pronged strategy – continue to engage the support of developed countries and increase cooperation among themselves. A rowing boat needs to be steered by both oars if it is to move ahead. One alone would leave us circling aimlessly. When attempting to achieve our goals, we must also remember that one solution may not necessarily work for all. Ultimately, each country will have to adopt specific measures that are best suited to its own needs, priorities and culture. On our part, Malaysia is happy to work with IFAD to assist and share our experiences with other countries. IFAD can act not only as a catalyst but also provide the wherewithal necessary to initiate projects for capacity building more aggressively to help the poorest of the poor aspire to a better life.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to conclude with the words of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of Malaysia when he launched the report of the Millennium Development Goals in Kuala Lumpur recently and I quote "Progress and development that we aspire to can only come about from within ourselves. We have a responsibility, nationally and internationally, to work for the benefit of all people and for future generations. Collectively, we have a better chance of making the world a better place when we endeavour to promote a more humane and just world. Let us all unite and commit to adopt the fundamental values set in the Millennium declaration – freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility.

Thank you Mr. Chairman