KUALA LUMPUR: Mauritius hopes that Malaysian government will consider opening a High Commission in the Indian Ocean island republic.
High Commissioner of Mauritius to Malaysia, Issop Patel, said it is high time that Kuala Lumpur, which established diplomatic ties with the island republic in 1987, considers opening its embassy in Port Louis to further strengthen bilateral ties, especially economic, trade, culture and people-to-people ties.
“The current bilateral ties are excellent. Our hope is also that Malaysia uses Mauritius as a gateway to the African continent,” he said, adding that both the Commonwealth countries are similar in its ethnic and religious diversity.
Issop said this to Bernama International News Service in an interview on several bilateral matters in conjunction with the one-year rule of the new Malaysian government under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.
Issop further said that Mauritius also hopes that Malaysia could support Mauritius’ bid to become an observer in the Asean grouping, which currently has 10 members.
Mauritius, with some 1.27 million people, achieved its independence from Britain in 1968. Since then, it is renowned for being one of the most stable democracies in Africa and is a well-known international financial centre with tourism, sugar and textile as its economic mainstay.
Asean, established on Aug 8, 1967 in Bangkok, counts Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam as its members.
Mauritius and Malaysia are members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), an inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region through its 22-Member States and nine Dialogue Partners. Mauritius and Malaysia are also members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Talking about his impression of the new government, Issop said: Policies made by the new government that has positively impacted is the creation of the Asia-Mauritius Chamber of Commerce to be officially launched soon.”
On the international front, Issop said Mauritius appreciated Malaysia’s support in the United Nations resolutions regarding the fate of the Chagos Archipelago or Chagos Islands, a chain of 60 islands.
Last February, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected Britain’s claim of sovereignty over the Chagos Islands, saying that the detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned”.
The ICJ’s opinion was non-binding.
This was following the vote in June 2017, where the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in favour of Mauritius to bring the dispute over the sovereignty of the Chagos Islands to the ICJ to get the top UN court’s advisory opinion. A total of 15 countries voted against the resolution, while there was 65 abstention.
Malaysia was among the 94 countries which supported the resolution to request for an advisory opinion of the ICJ.
On May 22 this year, 116 UN member countries, including Malaysia, voted in favour of a resolution that urged London to “withdraw its colonial administration” from the Chagos Islands within six months.
Only six countries voted against the non-binding resolution, while 56 others abstained.
Mauritius has claimed that the Chagos Islands, including Diego Garcia, had been wrongfully taken from Mauritius when British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) was established in 1965. The US has a major strategic military base in Diego Garcia - the largest among the Islands - about 1,931km north-east of Mauritius. — Bernama