KOTA KINABALU: It is high time that China and Sabah seriously explore room for cooperation and exchanges, said Ma Zhong Friendship Association of Sabah president Dr Oh Ei Sun.
Oh said a series of China’s top leaders also visited Sabah over the last year, and he was happy to note that Sabah was now firmly within the focus of China’s tourists and investors.
“China is now the world’s second largest economy, and Sabah has always been a land full of talents, resources and opportunities,” he said.
Thus, it was high time for both countries to explore opportunities for cooperation and exchanges, he added.
Oh said his colleagues and him decided to form the Ma Zhong Friendship Association Sabah to promote even closer ties between the peoples of China and Sabah.
“We will proactively arrange and facilitate even more cultural, educational, and commercial exchanges between China and Sabah, Malaysia with the ultimate aim of creating win-win and all-win situations to benefit all of us!”
Oh said this at the welcoming dinner in honour of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) naval ship Zheng He’s visit to Sabah here on Tuesday evening.
The event was graced by Speaker of Sabah State Assembly Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Mohammed Salleh bin Tun Said Keruak.
Oh said PLA naval ship Zheng He’s first and historic visit to Sabah marked another momentous milestone in Malaysia-China relation.
“Indeed, recently when I appeared on Phoenix TV in Hong Kong, I emphasized the importance for China to make more friends among her neighbours, and especially in Southeast Asia.
“And indeed, Malaysia has been a close friend of China since almost 40 years ago when Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak and the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai took the bold and historic step of establishing diplomatic relationship between the two countries.”
However, he pointed out that China and Malaysia’s close ties went much further back.
More than 600 years ago, Admiral Zheng He led a huge armada to visit the South Seas for more than seven times, and on almost every trip, the armada will stop by what is now Malaysia, spreading friendship and promoting trade along the way, he said.
“It is therefore especially auspicious that today a modern China ship bearing the name Zheng He is visiting us in Sabah, hopefully renewing our close ties and building new friendships.”
Oh also thanked the opportunity granted by the Embassy of China in Malaysia and the Ambassador His Excellency Mr Chai Xi, the Defence Attaché Office of the embassy and the Defence Attaché Senior Colonel Chen Wei, the Consulate General of China in Kuching and the Consul General His Excellency Mr Li Shugang, for rendering the opportunity for the association to assist in organizing this historic visit.
Also present at the event were Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) president Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau, City Hall director general Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI) president Michael Lui, KTS Sabah area general operations manager Ngu Ngiong Hieng, as well as local community and association leaders including Datuk Yii Ching Siew, Datuk Jimmy Yong Kyok Ming, Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen, Datuk Chau Tet On, Datuk Edward Khoo Keok Hai, Datuk Ling Tiong Chai, Datuk Agnes Shim and Frankie Liew.