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Official Visits: Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore

From June 17 to 24, 2002, David visited Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.  In Singapore, David highlighted the presence of Canadian high technology firms and know-how at CommunicAsia/BroadcastAsia 2002 (June 17 - 18).  With over 2000 exhibiting companies from over 40 countries, these exhibitions are one of the largest international showcases for information, communications, and broadcast technology in the world.  David’s presentation to the Canadian-hosted Venture Capital and Partnering Forum, held immediately prior to CA/BA 2002, is available here. 

In Malaysia, David advanced an agenda of partnership in high-technology and international education marketing (June 19 - 20).  In Cyberjaya (Malaysia’s High Tech corridor), for example, David learned about the incredible advances being made and discussed opportunities for our two countries to work together on emerging technology initiatives. Over the course of a full two day visit, David met with Prime Minister Mahatir, spoke with the Canada-Malaysia Business Council (available here), met with representatives of Malaysian non-governmental organizations, and visited the University Putra Malaysia.

The most charged part of the trip was to Indonesia (June 20 - 24). As the first Canadian political Minister to officially visit the country in almost 5 years, the four day visit provided an opportunity to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations.  A large portion of the trip, however, focused on the unfortunate situation regarding Manulife Indonesia, a subsidiary of the Manulife Financial Corporation – Canada’s largest insurance company and one of the largest world-wide.   The decision by a local commercial court to declare the company bankrupt when it was, and continues to be, completely solvent threatened almost 4000 Indonesian Manulife employees, 400,000 Indonesian policy holders, and millions of dollars in investment.  David met with company employees and forcefully raised this issue with the Ministers of Energy and Trade and Industry.  Among other things, David called for the removal of the court-appointed curator - whose qualifications and impartiality were being called into question - and the appointment of a fair and impartial curator (or receiver) to protect the company pending appeal.  By the end of the visit, the curator was in the process of being removed, and the government had provided assurances that it takes the situation very seriously and looks forward to a fair and just resolution.  See David’s statement to press regarding the Manulife situation, available here.   Photos of the rally by Manulife employees are available  here.

David’s trip to Indonesia also included a visit to the State Institute for Islamic Studies, a round-table on corruption and governance, the official opening of the Canadian Chancery, and a speech entitled “Indonesia and Inter-faith dialogue: One Common Ground” to the Indonesian Council on World Affairs, available here.
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