LONDON: Malaysia not only managed to retain its seat at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council under Category C during a recent re-election, it also won a record number of votes with 142 out of 165 member countries.
Malaysia has now held its seat on the IMO Council for the eighth consecutive term with a higher vote tally, earning the third-highest spot after Singapore and Malta.
Category C comprises 20 countries which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the IMO Council would ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.
The result of the vote on the last day of the IMO’s 31st General Assembly, though, was not totally unexpected for Malaysia, given its track record and performance as a Council member since 2006.
However, the astounding increase in the number of votes on the last day, which reflected the overwhelming support of other member countries, was the highest since it became an IMO Council member.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who led a 30-strong delegation consisting of officers from the ministry, the Naval Department, port authorities as well as main players in the nation’s maritime industry, considered the win as a mandate for Malaysia to carry out its responsibilities to developing nations that look up to it as a role model.
“Malaysia’s win to be re-elected is most historic because we have received a record number of votes. We received 142 votes, which means 142 countries from the whole world supported Malaysia.
“With a record number of votes, Malaysia is placed in the top three and this in itself is history in the making,” said Loke after the results were read out by the secretary-general of the IMO, Kitack Lim, who considered the election as “most competitive”.
Loke added that Malaysia must continue to support and contribute to developing nations.
“The support is not seasonal, to be given only during an election", he said, adding that Malaysia will continue playing its role in giving input and technical cooperation.
Loke believes that as a maritime country, Malaysia has the capabilities to compete with the best.
“I hope that this victory will inject the spirit in us to strive to be the best. Now we are number 3 and in 2021, we must be number 1. We must also strive and work hard to move to category B by 2025.
“Our work has only just begun,” he told the cheering delegation at a celebratory dinner last night.
He added that the maritime sector can change the economic landscape of the country, as Malaysia has ports that are as competitive as other ports in the world.
Also present were Dr Adina Kamarudin, director general of Maritime Affairs at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“The Foreign Affairs Ministry went full throttle in lobbying efforts ever since we officially announced our candidature in February this year. We have always been consistent in promoting Malaysia in the maritime sector,” she said.
Port authorities in the Malaysian shipping association also helped in lobbying efforts, she said.
“Malaysia’s greatest realisation since becoming an IMO Council member is our aspiration to help our fellow members, particularly developing countries.
“A significant outcome has been the establishment of our own Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme in 2013. It is an inclusive programme that transcends regions and continents,” Adina added.
She said the programme has benefited 430 representatives from more than 57 IMO Member States.
“We have also contributed towards enhancing facilities at both the World Maritime University in Sweden and the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta,” she said.