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The Malaysian Saga

It’s the Political-Economy, Stupid!

by Greg Mills and Emily van der Merwe

The lobby of Proton’s Shah Alam factory outside Kuala Lumpur centres on a colourful line-up of its models since the manufacturer’s inception. The slab-sided Saga, launched in 1985, quickly became Malaysia’s most popular car, selling more than a million units, helping Proton to gain a 55% share of the domestic market within its first decade.

Photo: Greg Mills, PM Hailemariam Desalegn and President Olusegun Obasanjo at the Proton Factory near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photos: Emily van der Merwe)

But Proton’s early success offered false promise, illustrating just how difficult it is to start a national car project from scratch, the idea of then deputy prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1979. The Asian financial crisis of 1997/8 saw domestic sales plummet to less than half of a 400,000 vehicle annual peak. Despite committing capital investment of $5 billion since 1983, the presence of tariff protection and government subsidies, and an early technology sharing agreement with Mitsubishi, the creation of a sustainably profitable business has proven elusive.



Canada Day 2019

27 June 2019

High Commissioner of Canada Sandra McCardell hosted a Winter Carnival in Pretoria to mark Canada Day. This will be her last celebration in South Africa as she completes her term at the beginning of August.

Photo: High Commissioner of Canada Sandra McCardell with Secretary of Defence Dr Sam Gulube

High Commissioner McCardell reflected on her time in South Africa and recounted some of her greatest memories which include:
•        Meeting many South African stalwarts of the freedom struggle, being inspired by what they achieved, and learning from South Africa’s experience of transformation and reconciliation – which has great meaning for the world
•        Witnessing Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney receive the OR Tambo award in gold – the highest award to a non-South African – for his work within the Commonwealth in the fight against apartheid. While PM Mulroney welcomed Nelson Mandela in Canada only a few months after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela addressed Canada’s Parliament before his own.


South Africa – UAE Business Forum

25 June 2019

A high-level trade and investment delegation organised by the Ministry of Economy under the chairmanship of H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, participated at the Africa Trade Week, in Johannesburg South Africa, from 23 – 25 June, under the theme ‘Africa - The New Home for Trade’. The Africa Trade week saw the participation of senior officials and representatives from the federal and local authorities as well as the UAE’s private sector.

Photo: Mr Mahash Saeed Alhameli, Ambassador of the UAE to South Africa (2nd from left) visiting the stands


Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival 2019 aiming to boost rural economy, cultural tourism and promote unity in a diversity of cultures

26 June 2019

By Stella Sigcau

Ntabankulu which is the Mountainous part of the Mpondo Kingdom surrounded by the mighty Mzimvumbu River will once again become colourful and a centre of attraction during the second weekend (13th -15th) of September 2019 receiving guests from various walks of life attending the famous and historic Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival. Over 20 000 people are expected to attend this event which will be held at Lwandlolubomvu Great Place, Matshona Village, Ntabankulu. September month called Umphanda in the Mpondo language is of significance in the Mpondo history as it was apparently the first month of the New Year in ancient times.


Liberating Language an Expression of Freedom

20 June 2019

Minister Mozammel Huq, Minister of Liberation War Affairs of Bangladesh paid a short fact finding trip to South Africa recently. It was the life and struggle hero and freedom icon Nelson Mandela, the first president of a democratic South Africa that motivated the minister’s visit. The minister is himself a veteran soldier who fought for the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971.

Photo: (l-r) Mr Shahiduzzaman Sarkar, Member of the National Parliament of Bangladesh, High Commissioner Shabbir Ahmad Chowdhury, Minister Mozammel Huq, Minister of Liberation War Affairs of Bangladesh, Anisha Pemjee, The Diplomatic Society, Kirtan Bhana, The Diplomatic Society and Mr Motahar Hossain, Member of the National Parliament of Bangladesh

That conflict is similar to the June 16th uprising in Soweto, South Africa, which rejected the imposition of Afrikaans as a language medium in schools. This uprising is commemorated on June 16th known as Youth Day in South Africa.  



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July/August 2019









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