Three Ways Multilingualism Opens Doors In An Interconnected World

In the past, meeting a person who spoke more than one language was a rarity; before the advent of modern transportation and communication technology, contact with other nations was limited, so knowing more than your native tongue was not, for most people, a necessity.

However, today we live in a very different world. Cell phones, the Internet, and air travel have significantly increased our connectedness to people in other countries, and as the world becomes more globalized, those connections will continue to intensify.

Much has been made about the benefits of being multilingual on the scale of the individual; after all, people who know more than one language have been shown to have greater mental agility, better job prospects, and a sharper understanding of the world around them. But increasing multilingualism around the world also confers distinct advantages on our macro-level, global society.

Take a look at the following ways that greater multilingualism provides opportunities for increased understanding between (seemingly) disparate groups:

More Clear and Open Communication Between Governments

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, most national governments have recognized the importance of remaining in close contact with those of other countries around the world. Forging good relationships with other nations is a key to maintaining international stability, which is, of course, to our mutual benefit.

Multilingualism among world leaders allows governments to communicate clearly and openly with one another, and serves to break down barriers where they may exist. For example, it’s hard to forget President Kennedy’s powerful “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” (“I Am a Berliner”) speech, delivered in West Germany1963; he gave large portions of the address in German, thereby conveying his camaraderie with the citizens of the divided nation. Despite his famous mistake, in which he accidentally referred to himself as a jelly doughnut, the speech went far in establishing a relationship between the U.S. and West Germany.

It’s important for officials to be able to convey their wants and needs as directly and accurately as possible, especially in a tense situation. Multilingualism allows this, and it helps create a more tangible bond between leaders who are looking for common ground.

Easier Business Dealings and Negotiations

It’s true that the world is becoming more interconnected overall, but more specifically, business has reached international heights more rapidly than most other spheres. For the first time in world history, it’s fast and easy to conduct business transactions between distant nations, and multilingualism is the key making those deals happen.

Although it’s true that English is often the lingua franca, and thus the dominant language when it comes to business deals and negotiations, as countries in the developing world become bigger players in the world economy, multilingualism will be critical in high-stakes negotiations. This is because the nuanced nature of the back-and-forth involved in a business deal requires more than just a basic understanding of one another. Multilingualism among business professionals will allow both parties to convey their interests clearly and maintain a good working relationship. This is why major companies such as Apple, BMW, and Coca-Cola are actively recruiting leaders with the ability to speak more than one language.

Deeper Understanding of Other Cultures

It goes without saying that being multilingual will allow international travelers to interact with other cultures much more easily. For example, having an intimate understanding of Italian will make your trip to Rome a much more satisfying experience.

But the need for cultural sensitivity runs much deeper than a one-week summer vacation; as the expectation that we all become good citizens of the world increases, it’s critical to understand the ins and outs of other societies in more than just a superficial way. Increasing multilingualism provides us with the ability to understand the complexities other cultures in a genuine way. Language is complicated, and word choice means a lot in explanation and descriptions – multilingualism means that none of these fine distinctions will pass us by.

Multilingualism has the power to transform our world – consider learning a language to be a part of the movement!

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This blog article was contributed by Sara Collins, writer for NerdWallet, a site that helps users stay informed about the best ways to save money on travel.

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Ken Applegate from Fisher Funds on doing business with the Chinese

At Euroasia, we have the privelege of meeting talented New Zealanders who do amazing things in their day jobs. For today’s blog entry, we have Ken Applegate, who has been learning Mandarin with us since early last year to share his views on the Chinese economy, why he’s investing there, and his experience in working with the Chinese.

Ken is the Senior Portfolio Manager for the Fisher Funds International Fund, a specialist New Zealand-based fund manager with assets under management of NZ$1billion spread across more than 30,000 clients. Thanks Ken for sharing your story with the Euroasia community.

Fisher

As a global investor we have the ability to invest anywhere in the world and our allocation to Chinese companies has ranged from 20-40% of the fund. We have a long term structurally bullish view on the Chinese economy. This is not just our opinion; it is based on fact and history. China has been a global economic powerhouse more than once in history. Countries like the US and the UK have dominated the world economy once before and even Rome was ‘great’ once. Just a little more than 200 years ago China’s economy comprised approximately 1/3 of global GDP and it is on the rise again. To quote Warren Buffett, a legendary investor, “the 19th century belonged to England, the 20th century belonged to the U.S., and the 21st century belongs to China. Invest accordingly“. I firmly believe most people underestimate how important this shift is and the significance of its implications.

China dominated the world economy 200 years ago

China_gdp

I have worked as a global fund manager for more than 15 years with the majority of my experience gained while living in California. I first visited China in 2000, and I now travel to China 2-3 times per year. In addition, I speak with Chinese companies and local investors/analysts on a weekly basis and often meet with Chinese companies when I attend investment conferences throughout Asia, especially in Singapore and Hong Kong. I have described below two examples of investments made in China which highlight some of the many challenges I have encountered and learned from over the years.

I also believe in continued learning and my latest pursuit has been learning Mandarin. I began taking a weekly class at Euroasia language school in Auckland in early 2010. I have experienced first-hand the difference between speaking Chinese and thinking Chinese. While I have spent a good deal of the last 10 years trying to understand the Chinese way of doing business, I decided that learning the language could be another way to bridge the gap between cultures. Many Chinese attempt to learn English so out of respect why shouldn’t we attempt to learn the most widely spoken language in the world?

China’s future will be driven by urbanisation and the emerging middle class

China_urban

It is critical to understand that while China is one country there are significant regional differences. One way to gain a holistic picture is to travel to a variety of locations throughout China. While Shanghai and Beijing are the financial and political centres, they comprise less than 5% of the Chinese population. The real future of China, in my opinion, lies in the emerging middle class so I have made an effort to travel to tier 2 and tier 3 cities. In addition to Guangzhou in the south, I have been as far west as Chongqing and Chengdu and as far north as Changchun. I like to visit similar locations every few years to see how things are developing. The reason for my travel is to visit company management at their headquarters. I have found they are much more open to a dialogue and it forms a lasting impression if a fund manager from New Zealand makes an effort to come and spend a day with them on their home turf.

This is the welcome I received from Cao Zhao Hui, the CEO of Wasion Group, when I visited them at their headquarters outside of Changsha in 2009

Ken_applegate

The first example is an investment that didn’t work out. One way we generate our investment ideas is through quantitative screening of financial metrics. We discovered a company called Dapai, China’s leading branded backpack and luggage company. I was attracted to the company because of its leadership position in its industry and cheap valuation. The valuation of the company was low because the company had made some decisions that did not fit the mold of a ‘typical’ high quality publicly traded company.

After significant research on the company and numerous conference calls with company management I believed that this was an investment worth pursuing. We are strong believers in quality management so I travelled to Quanzhou, Fujian Province, to spend a day with the CEO and Chairman at their facility. I also conducted research by interviewing customers at shopping malls (including the competition) to gauge the perception of the company and brand.

As mentioned previously the cheap valuation was due to subpar decisions the company had made in regards to how the stock and company was perceived. I believed these decisions were made in naivety. During my meeting with the CEO I highlighted how to change their perception which could lead to significant wealth creation. I offered my assistance and facilitated a conversation with a public relations firm and numerous specialised brokers and made myself available for discussion on any decision-making if required. They responded positively and we celebrated a fruitful day and good relationship over dinner.

I had continued conference calls with management and while the company did make some positive steps forward they were only baby steps. Unfortunately the key decisions continued to be poor in spite of my advice. This was frustrating as there was no logical rationale for the decisions. The decisions were actually made for reasons other than purely financial reasons, which meant sacrificing

their own business in the short term to maintain relationships with distributors. I understand this is important, but it was still

frustrating as management had committed to change. While I do understand how Chinese think, I am ultimately a westerner, especially when it comes to business, and our way of decision-making does not always prevail.

Touring the Dapai factory with the CEO, Chen “Perry” Yong

Dapai

The second example involves a more positive outcome. The company is China Automation Group, a leading company in safety equipment for the petrochemical and rail equipment industries. It is similar in structure to the first example where my research and relationship was developed over a 6-month period. The major difference in this example is that I already had relationships with a number of players in the rail equipment industry. This added depth and meaning to my relationship with this company.

We first invested capital in China Automation Group in mid 2008 and while business for the company continued to be positive, the stock took a dive in 2008. This was frustrating for the company and for me. I remember meeting with Xuan Ruiguo, the Chairman of China Automation Group, in Hong Kong in October 2008 when the stock price was HK0.60/share.

To put this into context we bought our first shares at HK$2/share. The good news is that now the shares are trading at more than Hk$6/share. We showed our confidence and belief in the company by buying more shares and it was this day that defined our relationship. I had breakfast with the Chairman in March this year and he recalled my support during that challenging time and said that he always has time for me.

Summary

I have always believed in a long term approach to investing and this is a mindset that is critical when it comes to doing business in China. The best lessons I have learned have not come from reading books but from my own experiences on the ground. This will continue to be the focus for me in the future. We shouldn’t overestimate the ability to change others’ mindsets and this is not a sustainable outcome anyway. We need to adapt if we are to conduct business in their country, and both parties in a relationship must be satisfied. This requires a long term approach – it’s not just about trying to make a short term profit.

The best piece of advice I give people who want to try and understand China is to go there. I tell them to spend some time in one of the big cities and then travel inland to a smaller city. I have offered numerous times to provide assistance to those interested in an attempt to make the process seem less daunting. Seeing is believing. It takes time to develop an understanding and time to create relationships. Confucius said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”…and the long term rewards can be unlimited.

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Why Mailchimp is the coolest email marketing program on the planet

Today I received a package in the mail – with a brand new t-shirt from our email marketing provider, Mailchimp. It’s a Christmas gift that

they sent out from their Austin, Texas HQ to clients all over the world. I must be one of a few people in New Zealand who received this package. The guy putting the package together might have wondered to himself where New Zealand was. Maybe off the coast of Alaska.

Pretty cool t-shirt don’t you think? This is quite a smart way to get people talking about Mailchimp. So for a couple of bucks, they’ve managed to get me to blog about this 🙂 I wonder if we send out free Euroasia t-shirts to clients it will produce the same effect. Well, maybe not with a monkey on the front.

Euroasia has been using Mailchimp since last year to manage our email marketing campaigns. We pay USD30/month (for 2500 subscribers or less). We’re about 100 short of the upper limit, after which we’ll have to pay USD50/month for up to 5000 subscribers. With the high Kiwi dollar, it’s pretty worth it. Especially seeing the features offered are far superior to what we had previously with our open-source email management software.

There are standard things like Analytics integration, subscriber activity reports, social media integration etc. Even not-so-standard things like the ability to add users on the fly using the Mailchimp app on my iPhone, or to view reports

on the go.

For those with a smaller subscriber base, Mailchimp offers a free email marketing plan: store up to 1,000 subscribers and send up to 6,000 emails a month. With no expiring trials, hidden charges or sneaky contracts. They won’t even ask for a credit card. All for ZERO dollars. You might be thinking there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, Mailchimp employs what’s known as a freemium model. In a September 2010 blog entry, they explain how it all works, and how they’re making a lot more money by offering free plans. They also describe their experience starting the Mailchimp business in the wake of the dot-com bust, and why it makes sense starting up a business in a bad economy (useful reading for all of you still thinking about whether to get started on the business idea you’ve been thinking about).

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve been using an underwhelming product to manage your email newsletters, the New Year is the time to consider Mailchimp.

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How you can benefit from learning a second language

Most of us at some point or another have wanted to learn a second language. Some of us have learnt French or Japanese at high school. But most of us are still surprisingly monolingual (around 80% of Kiwis).

Some New Zealanders still think English is the lingua franca of the global village, only to be surprised when they visit faraway towns in Europe, South America or Asia. However, learning another language is useful not only because it opens up great travel possibilities. Learning a foreign language also helps give us an understanding of and appreciation for people that are different from us. Your understanding of the world will be enriched by gaining access to resources not available in English.

And as far as careers go, you don’t have to be an aspiring United Nations diplomat to learn a second language.

In our global village today there is almost no career that you could enter where second language skills wouldn’t come in handy at some time.  Even the big metropolitan cities – New York, London, Paris, Sydney etc. – which were once homogenous – now have sizeable populations of people who speak English as a second language. Being able to say on your CV that you have attempted to learn a second language would certainly make you come across as someone who is adventurous and serious about understanding people from other cultures. If you’re already doing business with people who speak a foreign language, you should at least be able to say a few words in the language of your business counterparts. You will no doubt win their respect, and in time this will translate into business deals.

Before you book your air ticket for that

trip to Europe or Asia this year, consider learning the local language to enrich your holiday experience.

Euroasia Language Academy offers programmes in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Call Cedric now on 0800 387627 or visit www.euroasia.co.nz for information on courses starting 26 April in Auckland and Christchurch.

For those of you super-busy people, there are two additional options:

  • if you are keen to learn as much as you can within a short timeframe, consider the 2-week Fasttrack 2 programme, starting 13 April,
  • if you can’t make it for class every week at one of our centres, you can still sign up for the online language buy propecia 5mg online uk course – delivered live by a language teacher from our centre in Auckland.

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UK govt says schools should teach Mandarin to all teenagers

Every teenager should have the chance to learn Mandarin due to the growing importance of China in world events, according to the UK government. One in seven secondary schools, which teach pupils aged 11-16, currently offer Mandarin and Schools Secretary Ed Balls said he wanted to extend this through language partnerships between schools.

From the BBC website this week:

All secondary school pupils in England should have the chance to learn a less familiar language such as Mandarin, says Children’s Secretary Ed Balls.

Mandarin has become increasingly popular in schools – with one in seven now teaching the subject.

Making it more widely available is an cialis order “aspiration” rather than a pledge – and could mean schools and colleges sharing specialist language

teaching staff.

Mr Balls highlighted the economic importance of learning languages.

As well as Mandarin, he pointed to the growing importance of Portuguese for trading with Brazil, Spanish in Argentina and Bahasa Indonesia in Indonesia.

Emerging economies

“A growing number of schools are now teaching Mandarin and in the coming years I think we will see this subject sitting alongside French, Spanish and German as one of the most popular languages for young people to learn,” said Mr Balls.

“In this new decade our ties with emerging economies like China will become even more important and it’s vital that young people are equipped with the skills which they need, and British businesses need too, in order to succeed in a rapidly-changing world,” he said.

So what is the New Zealand government’s stance?

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2010 New Year Resolution: Learn a language

In recessionary times, it’s even more important to keep improving and to consider learning a second language. Now is the time to be upskilling to future proof yourself. The ability to speak

a second language puts your business or your job prospects one step ahead of the competition. You are also demonstrating to future employers that you have what it takes to stick to something. Employers realise that people who embark on language learning have some key characteristics that are highly valued in such times: commitment and dedication being some key ones. Part of what makes knowing a language a great skill to have is simply because it’s not that easy for someone to acquire fluency. If it was, it would quickly lose it’s value and won’t be treasured as much. Some of you would already have mastering a second language set as a 2010 New Year resolution.

How do you ensure you achieve your 2010 New Year resolution? Your goals have to be SMART. The reasons people give for not learning a language include lack of time, the cost involved and the difficulty of the subject area. The good news is you can craft a SMART plan to overcome the obstacles mentioned, to achieve your goal of speaking a foreign language by the end of 2010.

1) Specific

What does “speaking a foreign language” mean? Should your goal be to know enough French in order to survive in a remote town in France without relying on interpreters?

We have a specific learning outcomes for people who enrol for courses at Euroasia. For example, at the end of the Level 1 French course with Euroasia, you should know enough to “get by” in French: you will be able to cope with the most common everyday situations by asking and answering simple questions, and you will be able to understand people when they speak to you about the situations covered.

2) Measurable

How do you know you’re on track with your goal? You need some objective measure of your progress. This is the main reason why self-help language courses don’t work. This is because learning a language is not like studying history. You need constant feedback from experienced teachers who know how to provide constructive suggestions and correct you when you make mistakes. CDs and software programs can’t do that as well as humans. You need to be regularly “tested” either formally or informally so that you know you’re making progress. Language schools follow lesson plans that introduce progression over time. As long as you keep on top of the coursework, you will keep improving.

3) Attainable

Your goals have to be realistic. Sometimes we get calls from people who need to master a language within a matter of weeks because of an impending transfer offshore, or because they have to meet the future-in-laws who don’t speak any English. Learning a language, like everything else, takes time. There are certainly people out there who promise the world, and will tell you that you do not have to put in the hard yards and yet will emerge fluent within a short timeframe, simply by spending an hour a week listening to CDs or playing some games on your laptop or iphone. This is obviously appealing, in the same way that expensive infomercial weight-loss programmes are. The real secret to learning a language (and weight loss, saving money etc) is having a realistic plan and keeping to it. At Euroasia, we follow a language learning programme that allows people to realistically gain fluency over time. If we did have magic pills that make clients instantly fluent in Spanish, we would be selling them at a thousand-a-pop and not bother investing so much money in establishing and running a school.

4) Relevant

Why are you wanting to learn a foreign language? If you’re just wanting to learn Italian for fun so that you can order a beer and have a simple chat with hot locals as you roam around Rome, then your goal should be to complete Level 1 or Level 2 with Euroasia. A Level 1 course can be completed within 2 weeks, 5 weeks or 10 weeks, depending on how intense you want it to be. If on the other hand, you wish to conduct business negotiations with your suppliers in China, then a Level 1 course is not sufficient, and realistically it would take a year or two to get a point where you can engage in everyday conversation, comparing your life in New Zealand with other people’s lives overseas; discussing matters of interest, including politics and economics. The more solid your reason for learning a language, the longer the staying power. Visualise your end-goal. When the going gets tough, keep reminding yourself of how it feels to be able to ultimately converse freely with locals. What would also help is if you have career-oriented language goals such as planning to gain a foreign language qualification. If your goal is to pass a formal certification exam like DELE (Spanish), DELF (French) or HSK (Chinese), then you are also more likely to have stronger motivation.

5) Time-bound

What’s your plan in order to achieve your goal? Where do you want to be in 3 months? 6 months? An ineffective resolution is “I will be rich someday”. An effective resolution is “I will save $20K

by December 2010″. You then break this down further into quarterly and monthly targets. In the same way, you would set targets for yourself in learning a language. You may wish to complete the Euroasia Gold Package (4 courses) by the end of 2010.

We wish you all the best in setting SMART goals for 2010!

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ABAC dinner with PM John Key

Earlier this month, I had the privelege of attending the annual APEC Advisory Business Council (ABAC) dinner hosted by the NZ International Business Forum, where the PM briefs members of the business community on what happened at APEC. This year, there’s lots to say about the economy and the PM has just arrived back from the East Asia Summit, Malaysia-NZ FTA, CHOGM, and about to go to Copenhagen.

Ken with PM John Key

The PM talked about 3 key issues:

1) Global interconnectedness. Synchronised recession is illustrative of this. Deep recessions will become more common as economies become more interdependent.

2) Global imbalances. PM cited a savings imbalance, with the West being funded by the East. He thinks the yuan will have to appreciate (given his background as Head of FX for Merrill Lynch, I was thinking whether to start hoarding some yuan) . The major issue is US consumers won’t spend.

The Americans are looking for 20m jobs (7m unemployed plus 13m coming into workforce).

3) Climate change. Unless the big boys (US, China etc) are involved, we can’t change things. It is more of a problem than people think, and will hit faster and with more severity.As the bulk of energy (70%) in NZ already come from renewable sources, and 50% of emissions is from agriculture, addressing this will be a big challenge.

The Q&A was pretty fascinating. One guy asked a serious question “If we want to catch Australia

why not just merge with them?” The PM’s response: I just got back from CHOGM where Australian PM Kevin Rudd asked me the same question. My response was I’m too busy running New Zealand to run Australia as well. This guy can be very funny. I do think John Key is more in touch with the masses than Helen Clark; and has a way with both CEOs as well as joe public. Perhaps this explains his 80% favourability rating throughout a very difficult year.

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NZ Malaysia FTA signing in Kuala Lumpur Pt 2


signing malaysia nz fta
Signing of Malaysia NZ FTA; (L-R) Tim Groser, John Key, Najib, Mustapa

Monday 26 October 2009 was a historic day for Malaysia – New Zealand relations. 10 years of trade negotiations culminated in the official signing of the Malaysia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. A group of 45 businesspeople from New Zealand, coupled with another 15 or so New Zealanders residing in Malaysia accompanied Prime Minister John Key to Malaysia for this historic event. I had the privelege of joining the NZ delegation to Kuala Lumpur. The irony is I am Malaysian and KL is my hometown, and it felt a little weird being on the other side. Nevertheless it was an amazing experience being part of this momentous occasion.

Free Trade Agreements are highly beneficial for New Zealand. Relatively speaking, New Zealand is already a very free country, with few tariffs and trade barriers, making it very easy for foreign businesses to do business in NZ. However, the same is not true for most other nations.

The Star on Malaysia NZ FTA
Pg 2 of The Star on Malaysia NZ FTA

Many countries impose significant tariffs on imported goods, and have convoluted non-tariff barriers designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. This is why it is easy for NZ to sign up to a free trade agreement because these agreements most definitely result in net gains for NZ businesses. The real difficulty is in convincing foreign nations to give up long standing tariffs. The Kiwi trade negotiators have very few bargaining chips to play with, a key reason why I have a lot of respect for these guys.

This is why I’m unhappy with the negative people who complain that FTAs are useless and are merely tools for select few businesses to make more money. The reality for exporters is that because of this FTA, tariffs for kiwifruit exports to Malaysia will go from 15% to 0%. Fonterra will see liquid milk quotas increasing significantly to 2.1m litres p.a., and a reduction of the 20% inquota tariff for liquid milk to 0%. Considering Fonterra’s market share in Malaysia for the adult milk category is 77% and 80% in prenatal dairy products, this is a huge win.

PM's motorcade with police outriders
PM's motorcade with police outriders, view from coach I was in

Education institutions can secure 70% shareholding (up from 49% currently) in Malaysian-domiciled joint ventures by 2015. Fran O’Sullivan (who was in Malaysia with the trade delegation) discusses benefits for NZ education providers in her 28 October editorial “Malaysia the key to unlock other doors“.

Ultimately, the Malaysia NZ FTA is all about enhancing already strong and long enduring ties between the two nations. As politics and economics are so intertwined,

the partnership of two nations via the FTA symbolises the mutual commitment of both parties.

As I have never been on a New Zealand trade delegation signing an FTA, this trip was a real eye-opener for me. NZTE and MFAT did a great job putting the programme together. We certainly enjoyed the ride in the PM’s motorcade. The 60-strong trade delegation were put in two coaches, behind the PM’s car and security detail (probably half the cars carried security personnel). I sat behind the bus driver and could see the speedo hitting the top speed of 120 kmh, the driver struggling to keep up .

invite from Malaysian Prime Minister
invite from Malaysian Prime Minister

Knowing KL traffic, it’s amazing to see the motorways cleared, with the entourage going from KL to Shah Alam in record time. They even sent an ambulance along to accompany the motorcade. My guess is this is because they don’t want any delay in despatching medical assistance should anything happen to visiting heads of state. We managed to visit the new Datacom office in Bandar Utama and the new Fonterra yoghurt factory in Shah Alam, had lunch and got back to KL Hilton within 4 or 5 hours. Under normal traffic conditions, driving time alone would already take that long. The other bonus for me personally is to have received a dinner invitation from the Malaysian Prime Minister (extended to all visiting New Zealand delegates). Had I stayed on in Malaysia and not moved to NZ, I don’t know when I would receive a dinner invite from the Malaysian PM’s office. The other interesting irony is that I received a New Zealand Prime Ministerial invite before the Malaysian one (18 months ago, to celebrate the signing of the China NZ FTA).

NZ trade delegation to Malaysia
NZ trade delegation to Malaysia, with members of Malaysia NZ Business Council

Malaysia and New Zealand have strong historic links dating back to the 1940s with New Zealand soldiers helping Malaya fight the communists, and students from Malaysia arriving in New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s under the Colombo Plan.

Several New Zealand Army officers served in Malaya while on secondment with British units from 1949. New Zealand became more directly involved in the Malayan Emergency operations in 1955, following its decision to contribute forces to the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve. In total, 1300 New Zealanders served as part of a Commonwealth force including army, air force and navy.

The Colombo Plan was a plan for Cooperative Economic Development of South and South East Asia and was conceived at a meeting of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers held in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in January 1950. All aid was given on a bi-lateral basis and the negotiations were conducted between the donor and the receiving government. No conditions or strings were attached to any aid provided and there was no expectation of a return by the donor country.

Petronas Twin Towers
Petronas Twin Towers

More than 300,000 recipients benefited from this scholarship during the period 1951-1989. Scholars were trained in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and United Kingdom. Many New Zealand graduates are now in senior and influential positions within the government and private sectors in Malaysia.

During the KL trip, I took two of the New Zealand delegates to the Petronas Twin Towers. On the way there, we stopped at the mosque behind KLCC as they were fascinated with the architecture. It was almost midnight, and we bumped into 3 security guards at the mosque. They were very friendly and asked me in Bahasa (Malay language) where the guests are from. I said New Zealand. They immediately smiled and were very friendly, even asking if we wanted to take photos inside the mosque. They knew the All Blacks (it would be difficult to find one Malaysian who doesn’t recognise this most famous of Kiwi brands), and one of them mentioned Jonah Lomu. My Kiwi friends were most impressed with the Malaysians they have met, and were very keen to explore what can be done in Malaysia. This is why I am optimistic that Malaysia New Zealand relations will go from strength to strength.

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Live from Malaysia NZ FTA signing in Kuala Lumpur

This will be short as I am blogging from my iphone. PM John Key will be signing the FTA with the Malaysian PM

tonight. Approximately 60 businesspeople are accompanying John Key on this trip. It has been a full on day, from the embargoed briefing this morning to visits of the Fonterra plant in Shah Alam and Datacom office in Banda Utama. We are now back at KL Hilton for a

briefing before the reception and official signing ceremony later tonight. Just sneaking in a few linea while the PwC guy is speaking. The Kiwis enjoyed being in the official motorcade. More on that later.

[Update 3/11/09: Full report on the signing of the Malaysia NZ FTA]

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