Nazri clocks in as Ambassador to US today; highlights trade, education, tourism and human rights as main focus

09 Mar 2023 09:49am
Nazri during an interview with Sinar Daily at Rumah Malaysia on March 7, 2023. (Photo by TASNIM LOKMAN)
Nazri during an interview with Sinar Daily at Rumah Malaysia on March 7, 2023. (Photo by TASNIM LOKMAN)

WASHINGTON, US - Former Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz clocks in officially as the new Malaysian Ambassador to the United States of America on March 8, US time.

He had presented the copies of credentials to the State Department Chief of Protocol Ambassador Rufus Gifford at 10am Eastern Standard Time, today.

In an exclusive interview, Nazri told Sinar Daily that there were three major areas that he planned to enhance as the new ambassador here, namely trade, education, tourism and human rights as well as the Malaysia-US relationship.

“My responsibility will always be to bring the two countries closer together, I want the relations tone cordial.

“We will work together to improve the economy of both countries especially in trading.

“We are a small trading nation while the US is a big trading nation, we want our part of the share there,” he said.

Nazri said the US was Malaysia’s largest trading partner after China and Singapore and he believed that more could be done.

He said he would also like to see more students coming to the US to study but cited high fees as the main reason why many were going elsewhere.

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He said he will talk to his counterpart on the matter as a bid to create a more feasible environment.

Meanwhile, the former tourism and culture minister who served from 2013 to 2018, said he would look into the possibility of setting up the Tourism Malaysia office in Washington DC to encourage promotion and tourism for the country.

Following its closure in New York back in June 2017 after 23 years in operation, he said the location would be more strategic since Americans could travel to Malaysia via Japan.

He said he will talk to the current Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing about it.

“New York is expensive but also not many from the east coast go there looking for Tourism Malaysia. “Maybe if we have an office here, we could foster good relationship with Americans and get them to come and discover more about our country.

“It is only natural they come to the embassy to look up details about our country and information on tourism,” he said.

Nazri noted that there was another Tourism Malaysia office in Los Angeles and that it was doing well.

He also spoke about revising the Malaysia My Second Home programme here.

In terms of human rights, Nazri noted that Malaysia had been relegated to tier three last year together with countries like Libya and North Korea.

He said this was due to issues such child labour and employers withholding their workers’ passports among others in the country.

However, he said the process of revitalising Malaysia’s name and image was progressing well as the main companies involved were conforming to the human rights standards.

“They had withheld release orders to certain companies and they have conformed to the requirements.

“This is actually due to cultural differences but like I said, we are conforming, progressing well,” he said.

Nazri cited incidences of child labour in plantations where parents go to work and the children follow due to unavailable childcare services.

Once the children were there with their parents, he said some companies would also pay the children for helping their parents out during the working hours.