The Treaty meeting in Poland was pleased to have, for the first time, a representative of Malaysia present to observe the Treaty meeting.
In recent years Malaysian scientists have begun to develop an interest in Antarctic research and have been sending scientists to Antarctica as guests of the Australian and New Zealand Antarctic programs (see story in Australian Antarctic Magazine 3: 46). In addition, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahatir, visited the Antarctic Peninsula in the 2001–02 summer, further stimulating Malaysian interest in Antarctica. Malaysia has also foreshadowed cooperative research with the Argentine Antarctic program in the 2002–03 summer.
In August 2002, the Malaysian Academy of Sciences convened an international seminar on Malaysia’s future scientific opportunities.
Because of the growing Malaysian interest in Antarctic research and possible interest in accession to the Treaty, the Treaty Parties decided to invite Malaysia to observe the recent Treaty meeting to assist their understanding of how the Treaty operates. Dr Azizan Abu Samah, head of the Malaysian Antarctic Research Program, attended the Warsaw meeting. This is the first time that any state not party to the Treaty has been invited to observe proceedings and reflects the importance that the Parties place on doing what they can to encourage States with an interest in Antarctica to become party to the Treaty.
Australia has indicated to Malaysian scientists that we are pleased to continue cooperation with Malaysia and will continue to encourage their accession to the Treaty. To mark the close relationship that is developing, the occasion of the August seminar was used to sign a bilateral cooperation agreement between the AAD and the Malaysian Academy of Sciences.
Manager, Antarctic Treaty and Government, AAD