Marcos, Malaysian PM to discuss security and economic cooperation in Manila

MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Anwar bin Ibrahim would meet with Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in Manila on Wednesday to discuss security cooperation, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

“Both leaders are expected to discuss various bilateral matters such as security cooperation, halal industry collaboration and digital economy cooperation,” it said in a statement. “Both sides will also be exchanging views on regional and international issues of mutual interest.”

Mr. Ibrahim will be in the Philippines on March 1 and 2 and will be accompanied by his Foreign Affairs minister, among other officials.

In a separate statement, the Philippine presidential palace said the two leaders would discuss areas of mutual concern including “political, security and economic cooperation, as well as people-to-people ties.”

Afterwards, Mr. Marcos will hold a dinner banquet in honor of the prime minister.

“The visit reflects the importance of good ties between Malaysia and the Philippines as close neighbors and partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said.

“It will provide an excellent opportunity for both sides to advance the partnership for progress, guided by shared interest, increased political and economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges,” it added.

The Malaysian leader is also expected to deliver a public lecture at the University of the Philippines and meet with Malaysians in the Philippines.

Mr. Ibrahim, the 10th prime minister of Malaysia, is the first head of government to visit the Philippines under the Marcos administration.

The Philippines was Malaysia’s fifth-largest trading partner among ASEAN member states in 2022, and the 15th globally. Total trade amounted to $9.42 billion, up by 20% from 2021.

Malaysia also facilitated the peace process between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which led to the signing of a peace deal in March 2014.

The oil-rich state of Sabah, a territory that is part of Malaysia’s northern Borneo, has been a thorny issue between the two countries for decades.

The Sulu Sultanate claims to have leased Sabah to the British North Borneo Co. in 1878, a deal that Kuala Lumpur sees as an act of abandonment.

The sultans of Sulu once ruled over Sabah and the Sulu islands. Sabah fell under British control after World War II and joined Malaysia in 1963, shortly after the sultanate ceded sovereignty to the Philippines. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan