KUALA LUMPUR –  Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has rubbished claim that opening the country’s borders for trade will lead to diminished sovereignty, in an opinion piece yesterday for China’s Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Najib also insisted that he is unapologetic for wishing to build world class infrastructure for Malaysia, despite local Opposition’s criticism for his administration’s collaboration with China president Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road initiative.

“It may seem ridiculous to readers in China or other visitors at this forum, but there are some opposition politicians in my country who say we are selling our sovereignty by agreeing to such projects,” said Najib in the article published in the South China Morning Post.

“But I make no apologies for wanting to build world class infrastructure for Malaysia that will, with local ownership being preserved, open up huge swathes of our country, bringing more trade and opportunity to our people, thousands of new jobs, improved living standards and prosperity.”

Najib said in the days of the old Silk Road, open minds and borders for trade are in the interests of all countries, instead of a compromise against sovereignty.

“The same is true today, and we welcome investment from all our friends and partners, just as Malaysia, as a seafaring, outward-looking nation, proud of its diversity, moderation and tolerance, has always traded with and invested in countries around the world, including China,” Najib said.

Najib said joining the initiative has been a “win-win situation” for the South-east Asian region, and Malaysia itself will reap rewards from the East Coast Rail Link project.

He also pointed out to the Digital Free Trade Zone in Kuala Lumpur and the littoral mission ships to be manufactured in both countries as more results from the cooperation.

“That is truly an example of win-win cooperation, and if it is on that basis that the One Belt One Road initiative continues to develop, we should all welcome it.

“We should all contribute to and participate in it. And we should all wish it every success,” said Najib, who is currently on a working visit to China until May 16.

China unveiled its One Belt One Road initiative in 2013 as a development strategy that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among various countries.

It has two components — the Silk Road Economic Belt that will be established along the Eurasian land corridor from the Pacific coast to the Baltic Sea, and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road.

– http://www.themalaymailonline.com