His Excellency Awang Adek Hussin, the Malaysian Ambassador to the United States, gave a lecture in the Kennedy Center on Wednesday about Malaysia’s growing economy and the nation’s role in the ASEAN economic community.
The crowd was a mix of businessmen, students, Malaysian consulates and even a congressman from Samoa.
Before the lecture began, Hussin talked with audience members, shaking hands and holding friendly conversations with everyone who approached him.
Hussin began his lecture by explaining the geographic location of Malaysia. He reminded the audience that the nation of 30 million people had a centuries-long history of colonialism and only gaining independence in 1957.
Hussin spoke proudly of his nation’s ever-decreasing poverty.
“Eradication of policy has always been a major policy in Malaysia,” he said.
Hussin displayed statistics that showed this success in Malaysia, such as a higher life expectancy for the nation and lower infant mortality rates.
Hussin explained that the reduction in poverty stems from a focus on utilizing the land, providing educational scholarships and giving financial assistance to small businesses.
“We don’t take from the rich and give to the poor,” Hussin said. “We get the poor to work their land.”
Hussin also discussed Malaysia’s significant international recognition. Malaysia is the No. 6 most attractive investment destination, he said. IMD ranks the nation No. 14 in world competitiveness. It is among the top locations in the world for manufacturing. It holds the No. 18 spot as a nation for ease of doing business with.
“Not bad for a small country,” Hussin said.
The World Tourism Organization stated that Malaysia is the No. 12 most visited country in the world.
“Shame on those that have not been to Malaysia,” Hussin joked. “You have been left behind.”
Malaysia is a member of ASEAN, Association of Southeast Asian Nation. This organization is an integration of the economies of Southeast Asia. ASEAN has the world’s seventh largest economy, and it is expected to have the fifth largest economy by 2020.
Hussin stated that ASEAN countries have experienced tremendous economic growth, especially compared to the average world economic growth statistics. In addition to this success, Hussin discussed the improvements that ASEAN is working on.
“We want to create a people centered ASEAN,” Hussin said. “We want to turn great potential and prospect into reality.”
The ambassador listed three principles that ASEAN hopes will help achieve this goal: outward looking nations, a “prosper thy neighbor” policy, and one united voice on international issues.
The ambassador addressed how China’s economic crisis would affect Malaysia’s economy during an audience Q&A at the close of Hussin’s remarks.
“This will not cause the derailment of the nation,” Hussin said. “Malaysia is very practical in terms of handling economic crises.”
When asked if ASEAN planned to take a political stance against further economic threats, Hussin said, “We want to do things the ASEAN way, with peace and stability. We don’t want any conflict.”
Both the ambassador’s main remarks and the Q&A session offered global insight to what students are learning in other classes.
Michaela Dunlap, a sociology major, attended the lecture as part of her international and area studies course. She said the ambassador’s lecture helped her make intriguing connections.
“I learned about demographic transition theory in one of my other courses. It explains how countries that are growing economically have large youth populations,” Dunlap said. “It was interesting to see the ambassador show how this applies with real world numbers about the large youth population in Malaysia.”
Hussin closed the lecture by stating what he thought about strengthening global relationships with Malaysia.
“The world cannot afford to not give adequate focus and attention to Malaysia,” he said.