Malaysia - Foreign Policy

Malaysia continues to pursue an independent, principled and pragmatic foreign policy, founded on the values of peace, humanity, justice, and equality. The overarching thrust of its foreign policy has been to safeguard Malaysia’s sovereignty and national interests as well as to contribute meaningfully towards a just and equitable community of nations through the conduct of effective diplomacy.

Malaysia’s foreign policy is largely influenced and shaped by three key factors, namely its strategic location in Southeast Asia, its attributes as a trading nation as well as its unique demography. While the foreign policy approaches may have differed over the years due to changing domestic and external factors, the basic principles of the policy have continued since independence. Policy-making has been guided by the criteria of credibility together with consistency and coherency, which have served the country’s best interests.

ASEAN remains the cornerstone of Malaysia’s foreign policy and the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015 has significantly elevated Malaysia’s approach and engagement at the regional level. Concurrently strengthening bilateral and multilateral aspects of Malaysia’s engagement with the world will continue to be an important focus. The nation’s well-being is founded on the strong and friendly relations with other countries and its commitment to the multilateral system.

Under the present leadership of Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Malaysia continues to promote a forward-looking and pragmatic foreign policy that facilitates trade, attracts foreign investment as well as projects Malaysia as a stable and peaceful country. 

As a member of the UN, Malaysia is fully committed to multilateralism in advancing global peace, security and prosperity. Malaysia’s record in peacekeeping operations under the UN is a testimony of its dedication in carrying out the mandate of the international community in advancing global peace and security. At the UN and other international fora, Malaysia will continue to actively participate in the deliberations and efforts toward finding solutions to various global issues. Malaysia will continue with the principles of engagement and cooperation rather than isolationism and unilateral action.

In terms of technical cooperation with other developing countries, Malaysia has worked with other countries through the sharing of its experience and knowledge through various foreign policy mechanisms. These include the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) and through linkages such as the Langkawi International Dialogue, bilateral humanitarian assistance as well as through its public diplomacy programmes.

As a country with a large Muslim majority, Malaysia also gives importance to the solidarity of the Ummah and the spirit of cooperation among the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  Malaysia’s status as a developing nation makes it imperative for the country to engage actively in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Commonwealth, Group of Seventy Seven (G77), Developing Eight (D8), Asia Middle East Dialogue (AMED), Far East Asia Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). 

Through these organisations, Malaysia has sought to promote the South-South Cooperation among the developing countries and the Muslim world.  Malaysia also advocates the “Prosper thy neighbour” policy to enhance economic relations and cooperation with its neighbouring countries through Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Phillippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMTGT) and other entities.

In line with the objectives of promoting and protecting Malaysia’s interests abroad, a network of 110 diplomatic missions in 84 countries as well as one friendship and trade centre have been established. The diplomatic missions comprise Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates-General and Consulates.

In responding to the complexity in global affairs and expanding international relations, Malaysia’s conduct will continue to be guided by the principles of respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the affairs of other nations, peaceful settlement of disputes, peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit in relations.