KOTA KINABALU: The setting up of the Republic of Korea Consulate here will enhance relations and cooperation in many fields between the country and Malaysia, especially with Sabah, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
Speaking at the opening of the consulate here today, Hajiji said the step was also significant in the expansion of the republic’s diplomatic and consular network as it sought to build and enhance regional and global relations.
He said Sabah looked forward to more cooperation with the Consulate to facilitate trade and investments as well as in other areas of equal importance such as cultural, technical and educational exchanges.
“We acknowledge the special role the Consulate will play in promoting bilateral relations and serving as a bridge to make connections. Together, we can achieve new heights and contribute to the prosperity of both Sabah and the Republic of Korea.
“Malaysia and the Republic of Korea have come a long way, having had six decades of cooperation following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1960. Since then, we have made much progress in exchanges and cooperation in many fields,” he said.
Also present were Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Seri Dr Joachim Gunsalam and Datuk Shahelmy Yahya, and Republic of Korea Ambassador to Malaysia Yeo Seung-Bae.
Hajiji said Sabah’s trade export to the republic registered at RM4 billion and Sabah’s imports from the country were at RM900 million last year with the country’s investment crown jewel RM4.2 billion SK Nexilis copper foil manufacturing project, one of Sabah’s largest foreign investments.
The Chief Minister said tourism in Sabah continued to grow strongly this year with South Korea being a major contributor with tourist arrivals recorded at 95,966 for the first six months of this year.
He said as of this month Sabah is also connected to two South Korean cities namely Incheon and Busan with 23 flights and 4,409 seat capacity weekly, while becoming a home to approximately 2,000 Koreans, most of whom reside in Kota Kinabalu.
“We are encouraged to see the steadfast and resolute presence of the Korean community here. We are heartened by their active participation in the state’s economy. Collectively, they have made a significant impact, as many have chosen to settle here and bring a rich and diverse wealth of experiences and skills,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hajiji said the Sabah government will table a revised Sabah Malaysia My Second Home (SMM2H) at the State Assembly soon, and the programme has been fine-tuned to make Sabah attractive to foreigners who wish to move here.
“Such a programme will benefit Sabah, especially in terms of the influx of talent and expertise. We hope to see more high-value talents, including from the Republic of Korea, moving to Sabah,” he said. -Bernama