Malaysia, Australia commit to fight human trafficking


PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Australia yesterday stated their commitment to work together on the issues of people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

HISTORIC VISIT: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday for a 2-day visit was accorded an official welcome at the Perdana Putra Square here yesterday. She was greeted by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife, Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman. — Bernama

He said both countries believed that the Bali Process on human trafficking would allow the respective countries in the region, in particular, to deal with this issue.

“It is complicated, but working together as one in dealing with a very common problem of trans-national crime, of course, it is important for us,” he said at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, here.

The Bali Process is an initiative which brings participants together to work on practical measures to help combat smuggling and trafficking in persons in the Asia Pacific region.

Gillard, Australia’s first woman prime minister, is on two-day visit to Malaysia, as part of her maiden tour of the region since becoming prime minister in June.

Muhyiddin said both countries agreed on the need to further enhance cooperation in combating people smuggling and trafficking in persons.

He said there had been a number of engagements by the working groups which had been formed between the two countries to tackle the issue.

“And we want to see that they pursue (the matter), for today, they are very complex (issues). Of course, (these are) serious issues at the regional and international levels as well,” he said.

Gillard said Malaysia had been a key contributor in the region to the disruption of people-smuggling activities.

“We very much welcome Malaysia’s recent introduction of laws to crimininalise people-smuggling.

“I have also had the opportunity today, to talk through Australia’s proposal for a regional protection framework and a regional processing centre, and we have agreed to further dialogue in this area, including through the Bali Process,” she said.

Commenting on the commitment of Malaysia towards the Australia-proposed regional processing centre, Muhyiddin said Malaysia viewed it as a very important matter and needed more information on it.

“Of course, a lot more needs to be done and, I did mention this earlier, that we need to see how this mechanism can work and whether the respective parties will need to be contributing in any way to the cost of the centre.

“There are a few outstanding matters that need to be addressed before Malaysia takes its official position on this,” he said.

On Gillard’s visit to Malaysia, he said it would place at a higher level the relationship between the two countries that had been secured for many years.

On trade and investment, he said both countries were impressed with the strong growth in bilateral trade which saw a trade volume of US$7 billion in the January-August period of this year compared to US$5.4 billion for the same period last year, reflecting an increase of 20.5 per cent.

“We are happy to see a strong flow of investments into Malaysia from 1980 to August 2010, with Australian investments in Malaysia amounting to US$6.91 billion with a total of 472 approved manufacturing projects.

“To date, a total of 289 projects have been implemented, creating more than 18,000 new jobs,” he said. Muhyiddin said Gillard and he had discussed the importance of moving forward the meetings and discussions between the two countries in terms of securing a free trade agreement (FTA).

“They have had a series of meetings, and we hope that this will be moved forward by next year and, hopefully, the agreement will be signed as soon as possible,” he said.

On education, he said, they discussed the need to pursue a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the fields of education and higher education. — Bernama

Muhyiddin also said they discussed the issue of Afghanistan and the needed support that the international community should give to Afghanistan to rebuild itself.

“Malaysia has played its role in terms of providing an initial support in the area of education.

“The Australia-Malaysia Education Project for Afghanistan has moved to the third phase and we would like to see this programme expanded further.

“Australia has suggested that we should bring in more than 100 teachers to be trained in Malaysia, and we are happy to do that as well,” he said. — Bernama