Published : 2010-03-30 14:34
Updated : 2010-03-30 14:34
"Malaysia Truly Asia" is probably the most recognized national slogan in the marketing world of tourism.
But Malaysia is also known for something else that not only benefits their national agenda but can also help with the environment.
"Biodiesel has a very promising prospect for the future as an alternative energy source and it`s renewable," Malaysian Ambassador Dato` Ramlan Bin Ibrahim told The Korea Herald.
Malaysia currently accounts for 41 percent of world palm oil production and 47 percent of world exports.
As one of the biggest producers and exporters of palm oil and palm oil products, Malaysia has an important role to play in fulfilling the growing global need for oils.
The majority of its crops go towards its traditional markets for personal hygiene and food and lately the Malaysian government has set its sights on promoting and producing palm oil for the purpose of making biodiesel.
There are new mills and refineries being built by major Malaysian and global companies.
"Now that the Korean government is promoting the green sector, we are ready and able to plug into that initiative by attracting Korean firms into exploring this biodiesel sector with us," he said.
One strong advantage of palm oil production for biodiesel in Malaysia and one that has quieted the naysayers is that every part of the tree is used.
"There is nothing that is unusable so we have Korean firms coming in and helping us with the technology for that," he said.
"Once you have dedicated plantations you can always use every part of the palm oil tree for specific purposes."
The empty branches or byproducts produced after processing are turned into biomass.
"We have Korean companies coming in to look at this alternative energy," Ramlan said. "Biomass can be used for heating; in a way a plantation can be used to meet the current concerns of global warming."
The Malaysian government, like the Korean government, is recognizing the benefits of going green not only for the sake of the environment but also as a possible future business sector.
"We could, in a way, develop together a kind of synergetic partnership," he said. "Korea has the technology and we (Malaysia) have the plantations. We can look at the global market and see how we can expand it and collaborate further while promoting these products in the green areas."
Ramlan explained that the Malaysian government has set up a deliberate environmental policy.
For every project, the Malaysian government conducts an environmental impact assessment.
"We are now factoring how we can balance and make sure that the ecosystem will remain in tact," he said.
The ambassador is also looking to promote its educational sector to Koreans looking to learn English.
"We have agreements with American universities and we provide quality education at a much lower cost because the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur is a fraction of what it costs in London, the United States or Australia," he said.
Ramlan explained that Kuala Lumpur has been turning itself into an education hub not only for university students but also for elementary, middle and high school students.
"Children there will be in an enabling environment where they will use English more than just in the classrooms, this way the language will be alive in them."
As for the mothers who accompany their children to Kuala Lumpur, Ramlan explained that there is a vibrant Korean community there to help newly arrived mothers and their family adapt to their new home.
"In these communities the mothers have something to do while the kids are in school. So that raises the comfort level. A number of them find living in Malaysia pleasant. We have a first class infrastructure and the population speaks English."
Malaysia has become one of the preferred destinations for Koreans looking to travel to an exotic country without having to travel many hours.
Multiculturalism has not only made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise, it has also made Malaysia home to hundreds of colorful festivals.
Geographically, Malaysia is as diverse as its culture. Cool hideaways are found in the highlands that roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.
One of Malaysia`s key attractions is its extreme contrasts. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts, and five-star hotels sit several meters away from ancient reefs.
"Koreans love Malaysia for golf, it`s so cheap. They put themselves at a golf resort and do nothing but play golf."
Golf promotion is a cornerstone in Malaysia`s tourism promotion in Korea.
"We are not into the royal entertainment business, we provide specialized, quality lifestyle holiday tours, beautiful beaches, excellent ecotourism, food, our cultural diversity, shopping, everything is so cheap in Kuala Lumpur."
He explained Malaysia is truly Asia because it is located smack in the middle of two giants - China and India - plus the country boasts countless ethnic minorities.
"We understand this; it is the basis of our strength," he said.
While Korea is looking for its tourism identity, Malaysia, through its best practices and aggressive marketing campaigns attracted 22 million visitors last year.
"We have a package for both low- and high-end travelers and also domestic promotions for our own citizens to discover other parts of Malaysia," he said.
"Through tourism we want to promote ourselves and the strength of our diversity."
By Yoav Cerralbo