Malaysia and UAE Share Best Government Practices Handling Covid-19 AcademWebinar

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The Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), under the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with Rabdan Academy, a leading educational institution specializing security, defense, and emergency preparedness, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) organized a virtual conference of knowledge sharing in the best practices of both countries in curbing the spread of COVID-19. The conference covered three major themes; policing system, healthcare and international relations. The conference also highlights the diplomatic relation between Malaysia and the UAE.
 
Opening the session, Dato’ Kamarudin Jaffar, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs said in his speech, “This initiative is an impetus for meaningful future relations and deeper cooperation between the two countries. The takeaway from the session would be crucial to both sides in preparation of any or similar circumstances, moving forward. We hope this will pave the way for more similar collaborations between Malaysia and the UAE.”
 
His Excellency Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister for International Development Affairs at (MoFAIC) said in his opening remark, “The UAE has a strong historical relationship with Malaysia and he stresses the need to move forward together and to share expertise and knowledge on best practices facing not just this pandemic but also future crises. The existing collaboration is important and strengthens the international relations between both countries to face this challenge. Another important factor is the strategic locations of both countries and the strong infrastructure helped in managing to not stop the supply chain, food and medical equipment.”
 
Speaking on the close relations between the two countries, Khalid Ghanem Al Ghaith, UAE Ambassador to Malaysia, said, “Malaysia and UAE share a high level of cooperation through knowledge sharing on combating COVID-19 in each country. For example, in terms of aid, UAE has donated medical assistance to Malaysia in the form of 20,000 test kits and masks whereas Malaysia in turn donated food supplies to the UAE. Our cooperation emphasised the need for global cooperation and the need to exchange learnings in combating COVID-19.”
 
“COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented global situation and is one of a kind crisis. Inevitably there is an impact on Malaysia’s economic front due to containment and movement control orders imposed by the country. Because of this, the Malaysian government has launched several economic plans to help the people as well as Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). On this note, our strong relationship with the UAE has helped to learn and improve our strategies when faced with a health crisis like COVID-19. ” said Mohd Tarid Sufian, Malaysian Ambassador to UAE
 
Dr. Faisal Al-Ayyan, Vice President of Rabdan Academy said, “The cooperation between Rabdan Academy and IDFR is a reflection of the level of bilateral relations between the UAE and Malaysia, especially in facing the challenges of COVID-19. The two friendly countries form a strategic depth for each other extending from East Asia to the heart of the Middle East. The cooperation covers several areas, such as food security, trade, economic and cultural exchange. We hope to continue this cooperation with our Malaysian partners.”
 
The focus of policing system in addressing COVID-19 pandemic
The issue of policing was discussed by Colonel Abdulrahman Ali Al Mansouri, Director General of Ministry Affairs at the Ministry of Interior and DCP Dato’ Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf Secretary of Royal Malaysia Police. As both countries’ governments declared nationwide lockdowns that resulted in the shut down of non-essential businesses, both countries shared how law enforcement officers operate and enforce law and order as well as dispersing crowds and gatherings.
 
Spokespersons from both countries agreed that government policies related to COVID-19 should be clearly communicated to all local law enforcement officers. Local law enforcement leaders should clearly establish how officers are to interact with the community and enforce the rules. Officers should be prepared to answer questions about testing kit availability, travel restrictions, quarantine and isolation, and personal safety measures (including who the public should call for such information).
 
Both countries spoke on how the role of law enforcement should be focused on informing the public about the current restrictions and encouraging individuals to comply with the state and local emergency health declarations. 
 
The focus of the health system in responding to COVID-19 pandemic
On the discussion regarding the health system of both countries in responding to the COVID-19, Dr. Farida Al Hosani the official spokesperson for the health care sector in the UAE praised the strategic relations between Malaysia and UAE in producing successful efforts and responses in containing the spread of COVID-19.
 
Dr. Farida said, “The number of test has been done so far is more than 5 million tests and this is an average of 530 thousand per 100 thousand populations, which is around 50% of the UAE populations have been already tested we are also one of the least countries in terms of death, the case fatality rate less than 0.4%. “
 
“UAE have been ranked as one of the top countries in terms of COVID-19 response safety and also it was praised by WHO’s experts in terms of handling COVID-19 response, in addition the handling of testing the populations access to test, also the UAE ranked one of the top three countries in the world, and we are looking forward for more collaboration with Malaysian government in the future. Learning from each other will enable us to succeed in any future challenge. We are very pleased that Malaysia and UAE are in such a positive collaborative partnership.”
 
Malaysia’s representative, Dr. Wan Noraini binti Wan Mohamed Noor, Head of Surveillance Sector, Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health, Malaysia, said that the UAE, being a global hub like Hong Kong and Singapore, is beginning to reveal itself as a pragmatic and effective leader in combating the virus. Given Dubai’s nature as a global hub for finance, tech, and travel, there are larger stakes at play.
 
Additionally, Dr. Wan Noraini praised the country’s technology sector as proving useful as Emirati company Group 42 (G42) has been tackling the outbreak head-on. She highlighted the UAE’s plan to leverage existing artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing technology to prevent the virus from spreading and to ensure medical supplies reach the areas where they are most needed.
 
The development of these types of innovative technologies comes at a crucial time as the international community grapples with a potential global catastrophe. She notes that the UAE also offers Malaysia practical and innovative initiatives that the country can learn from.
 
The focus of diplomacy and international cooperation in addressing COVID-19 pandemic
“The COVID-19 pandemic unquestionably presents an era-defining challenge to public health and the global economy. Seeing that the challenges are global, it is imperative to countries to cooperate in more knowledge sharing, more global cooperation and therefore a global concerted effort,” said Mohamed Al-Qurtasi, Director of Operations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
 
“To overcome this crisis, we need international collaboration, strong relationships and effective diplomacy. To see how powerful such global ties can be, governments need only look to scientists,” agrees Datuk Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah, Chief of Protocol cum Head of COVID-19 Task Force, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He further adds that ‘science diplomacy’, meaning international cooperation with science at its core, is the key to overcoming COVID-19.
 
The context of Datuk Wan’s statement is that scientists have long formed relationships with colleagues across the globe. Countries are increasingly recognising the diplomatic value of such cross-border scientific projects and networks, known as “science diplomacy”. These international networks can re-establish trust and diffuse tensions when political relations are strained.
 
The online conference reflected the close bilateral relationship between Malaysia and UAE. In the spirit of maintaining diplomacy and the close ties of both countries, both parties agreed to learn from each other in order to combat the global spread of COVID-19.
 
Dato’ Kamarudin said in the closing of the conference, “We extend our gratitude to Rabdan Academy in organising this conference. The academy possesses the latest programs and education with great credibility in the region and the world. Rabdan Academy is unique in providing training programs with international standards that meet the Ministry’s needs in terms of the education and training of its employees in specialized subjects with the aim to enhance their capabilities. It has been an enlightening conference and I hope both countries have benefitted from the mutual sharing of knowledge and experiences in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID-19 is a global challenge, it will require more solidarity between our nations.”

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