As we approach 31 August 2023, Malaysia commemorates the history and struggles that led to its independence 66 years ago. On this day, Malaysia takes pride in remembering the formation of the Federation of Malaya, a milestone that laid the groundwork for the country we know today. Six years later, on 16 September 1963, our country expanded to include Sabah and Sarawak, embracing the rich diversity that defines our country. As Malaysians, we are truly blessed and delighted to celebrate both our Independence Day on the 31st of August and Malaysia Day on the 16th of September each year, cherishing our rich heritage and national identity.
Over our six decades of independence, Malaysia has steadily grown to become a harmonious and inclusive country. Embracing its identity as a multiracial and multireligious society, Malaysia stands on the principles of peaceful coexistence and democracy, valuing the richness of its diverse cultures, religions and backgrounds. Malaysians have learned to focus on similarities rather than differences, fostering a sense of unity and national pride.
Throughout its history, Malaysia has faced various challenges, but its determination to maintain stability through mutual respect and tolerance has shaped the country into what it is today. As we move forward, Malaysia continues to evolve, striving for progress and prosperity for all its citizens.
Beyond its borders, Malaysia shares a long-standing relationship with our neighbouring country, Thailand. Just five days after Malaysia's independence, diplomatic relations were established, underscoring the importance of this bond. Among the first five missions to open abroad, Malaysia's commitment to nurturing this friendship has been evident. Bilateral ties between our two countries have been fortified, flourishing at both governmental and people-to-people levels. A recent milestone in this relationship was marked by the visit of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on 9 -10 February 2023, which showcased the intention to further expand relations across various potential areas of cooperation.
Having been in Thailand since 2018, I have witnessed the flourishing bilateral ties between Malaysia and Thailand. Even amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, significant exchanges of visits at official levels have taken place pre and post pandemic, allowing us to learn from each other's experiences and achievements. Despite the progress made, there is still untapped potential for further growth in various areas of cooperation between our two countries. On the international fora, we continue to support each other's candidacies and motions, reinforcing the foundation of our friendship. Beyond bilateral cooperation, both Malaysia and Thailand continue to cooperate within various trilateral, regional and international frameworks, including the Indonesia–Malaysia–Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the United Nations (UN).
Moving forward, Malaysia and Thailand aim to enhance their ties, with a particular focus on cross-border cooperation and border economy initiatives, which were among the topics of discussion during the last meeting between our two prime ministers. This concerted effort will not only strengthen our bilateral relations but also foster mutual prosperity and development for both countries.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the Thai government and the Diplomatic Corps for entrusting me with the role of Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. This position comes with great responsibility, and I pledge to do my utmost to leverage this privilege to further improve bilateral ties between our two countries. As the dean, I hope to represent the entire diplomatic corps offering assistance to the Thai government and facilitating closer cooperation between the diplomatic community and Thailand.
As Malaysia marks its 66th National Day, we celebrate not just our past achievements, but also look forward to a brighter future. By continuing to build on the foundations of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, we can reinforce the ties between Malaysia and Thailand and contribute to the advancement and prosperity of our respective countries and the region as well as creating a lasting legacy for generations to come.