The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to clarify an issue raised in Hazlan Zakaria’s article, "PM’s use of public funds for wedding trip morally wrong” (Malaysiakini, June 7).
2. The Prime Minister’s visit to Kazakhstan is to fulfil his acceptance of the long-standing invitation by H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan for our Prime Minister to undertake an official visit to Kazakhstan. The visit which took place on 5 to 6 June 2011 was the Prime Minister’s first official visit to the country and reciprocated the visit to Malaysia by President Nazarbayev himself in June 2006.
3. During the visit, the Prime Minister paid a courtesy call on President Nazarbayev and also held bilateral consultation with H.E. Karim Massimov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan. The visit did not just elevate the bilateral relations between the two countries but had also generated many business opportunities for Malaysian business community. It may be worth highlighting that Kazakhstan is Malaysia’s biggest trading partner among countries in Central Asia.
4. The visit to Kazakhstan also coincided with the 7th World Islamic Economic Forum (7th WIEF) from 7 to 9 June 2011 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The Prime Minister’s attendance at the 7th WIEF was in his capacity as head of government, representing Malaysia and as patron of WIEF. As you may well be aware, WIEF is an initiative started by Malaysia which has evolved since its inauguration in 2005 as one of the important platforms for dialogues and exchanges of cutting edge ideas, and business networking between governments and business leaders across the Muslim world and beyond. The decision for Kazakhstan to host the 7th WIEF on these dates was reached more than a year ago, when Malaysia hosted the sixth series of WIEF in May 2010.
5. On the whole, the visit had brought about a substantial development in Malaysia-Kazakhstan bilateral relations which is mutually rewarding. It has also reinforced the close relations between the two countries as well as promoted meaningful cooperation and dialogues among developing countries primarily members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
6. As such, the claim by some quarters that the visit was for the wedding of the Prime Minister’s daughter is totally unfounded.
Department of Information and Public Diplomacy
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia
9 June 2011