Daily Express
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Sabah vital to EU: Envoy

Published on: Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: The European Union (EU) sees Sabah as an important state in Malaysia as evidenced by the involvement of its 27 member countries in various aspects of Sabah's progress.

These range from trade and economic relations to areas like climate change, environment, green technology, higher education, science and technology, human rights and culture with regular discussions on global issues.

"The EU is working with Sabah on the green economy, sustainable timber and palm oil besides extending aid like education for migrant children as part of our solidarity with the developing world in tackling important matters like climate change," European Union Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Malaysia, Luc Vandebon (pic) told Daily Express.

He said for the first time, the EU is organising an EU-Sabah Day to mark this close relationship and eight EU ambassadors, one acting United Kingdom High Commissioner and three diplomatic deputy envoys from 11 EU countries out of 16 which have embassies in Kuala Lumpur, are in Kota Kinabalu to show support of this resolve.

The diplomats while here would witness the signing of a RM16 million programme on sustainable forest management between EU and the Sabah Forestry Department.

"In the past, we did not publicise this well enough, but the EU is the world's biggest trader and the source of foreign direct investment.

The EU gives more aid to developing countries (53 cent) than any other donor." (US accounted for only 22 per cent)."

The EU was the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) (953 million euros) into Malaysia, ahead of Japan and Saudi Arabia in 2012. EU partners have invested more than 24 billion euros in Malaysia.

Diversity is a source of strength and inspiration for EU and Malaysia as well as Asean. Malaysia is EU's second largest trading partner in Asean.

The EU is Malaysia's fourth largest trading partner.

Vandebon and delegation visited the Sabah's Kinabalu Eco-Link Project and the Tagal System jointly organised with the Sabah Forestry Department. The close bilateral cooperation can also be seen through various projects with the State Government, Sabah Wildlife Department, Universiti Malaysia Sabah where Vandebon will address staff and student on Wednesday and other non-governmental organisations in areas such as higher education, forestry, sustainability, climate change, migration and human rights.

Vandebon and other EU diplomatic envoys participated in the 2012 Heart of Borneo conference in Kota Kinabalu.

On Wednesday, the delegation will launch the European Union Film Festival at Suria Sabah's Cineplex as a way to share EU heritage with the people of Sabah which will be screened from Dec 5 to Dec 11 at Golden Screen Cinemas, Suria Sabah.

"The silver screen world has no borders. No passports or visas are required to take you from one country to another."

"Europe's films, cultural and creative talents are part of our soft power," acknowledged H. E. Luc Vandebon when asked of its projection and influence.

Daily Express is a media partner to the European Union Film Festival.

Free passes can be obtained from Golden Screen Cineplex box office at Suria Sabah upon presentation of the cut out coupon to appear in Daily Express from Dec 5.