The ceremony took place at the Organization’s Headquarters on the margins of the 181st session of UNESCO’s Executive Board with the participation of Malaysia’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Mr Kenneth J. Luis, as well as numerous Ambassadors and representatives from Member States.
In his opening speech, Minister Hishammuddin recalled the most important dates and events marking the many years of close collaboration between his country and the Organization. He particularly emphasized the significance of Malaysia having joined UNESCO just one year after it had gained independence. “Our histories are tied”, he stated.
The Director-General began his intervention by expressing his “wholehearted congratulations to the people and Government of Malaysia” on this occasion, and by paying tribute to Minister Hishammuddin, former Minister of Education. “I have greatly enjoyed working with Minister Hishammuddin over the years, and deeply admire what he has achieved in terms of driving forward educational progress in Malaysia”. Mr Matsuura also congratulated the new Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mr Mohammad Najib, recalling that he had also been Minister of Education and Malaysia’s representative to UNESCO’s Executive Board. “It is encouraging to see someone with a strong commitment to education in such an important position”, he added.
Recalling both of his official visits to the country, the Director-General praised Malaysia’s progress towards achieving Education for All (EFA), stating: “I have taken particular pleasure, over the past Decade, in seeing how Malaysia’s cooperation with UNESCO has grown and flourished, and the benefits this has brought to the nation’s educational, cultural and scientific life”.
Mr Matsuura also commended the leadership by Minister Hishammuddin in his role as Chair of the SEAMEO Council of Ministers in promoting closer ties between Southeast Asian countries and UNESCO in education, science and culture. “I am confident that the updated Memorandum of Understanding that I signed with SEAMEO during my visit to Malaysia last year (see Flash Info N° 034-2008*) will further consolidate the cooperation between the two Organizations”, he said.
The Director-General went on to salute Malaysia’s tremendous commitment to safeguarding the country’s “remarkable natural and cultural heritage”, which has resulted in three inscriptions on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, as well as the incorporation of the Mak Yong Theatre into the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
“The recent establishment of a Category II Centre for South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation in Kuala Lumpur is yet another major achievement of UNESCO-Malaysian cooperation”, noted Mr Matsuura. “It will be instrumental in strengthening science policies and capacity-building across Southeast Asia and beyond”, he concluded.
Upon receiving the first edition of the Commemorative Book from the hands of Minister Hishammuddin, the Director-General expressed his confidence that “the next fifty years of our shared future will be equally fruitful”.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 069-2009 - Publication Date: 24-04-2009