Idex Focus: Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Defence Malaysia, discusses his expectations for Idex - with video.
Asian nation keen to become region's launch pad for projects
q What are your expectations at Idex?
a We expect some partnerships between Malaysian companies and UAE companies. We have been talking about collaborating on maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft with Mubadala and the Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Centre (Ammroc). I am encouraging these companies to work together with a synergistic approach.
q Are there opportunities in manufacturing as well?
a We have been working very closely with Airbus and Boeing in manufacturing some composite components for the aircraft and these are the launching pad for the component manufacturing. Composites Technology Research Malaysia is talking to Ammroc and Mubadala about collaborating on manufacture of composites.
q Tell me about the Malaysia 2020 Vision
a We are working to transform our economy from a moderate economic growth to a high-end economic system. There will be a diamond social stratification where the middle class will be the majority of society and this will create the professional group and technocrats who will be involved in aerospace and other related defence industry.
q Are you pursuing political ties between Malaysia and the Gulf region?
a Through the visit of Najib Abdul Razak, the prime minister, last [month] the top level of officials have followed up their discussions. The follow-through process is taking place. The collaboration is not just in synergistic business but in equity participations which Mubadala and Ammroc are talking about now. Also training and new areas dedicated to developing industries … We are inviting companies from US and Europe to relocate R&D [research and development] and downstream activities. We have skilled workers to enhance the programme of offsets and transfer of technology. In Third World countries we were used as a dumping ground for any military assets. I think we have to shift the mindset to work together and collaborate not just in the usage of the equipment but in manufacturing, assembly and distributing the product, not just in our countries but in the south Asian region.
q What role is Malaysia seeking to play in the Asian defence industry?
a The Asean [Association of Sout East Asian Nations] region imported US$22.5 billion (Dh82.64bn) of defence equipment in 2009 and with collaboration of the Asean countries, using Malaysia as a hub for the defence industry, we are offering to use Malaysia as a launching pad to distribute and market their products in the south Asian region and co-operate with the Asean region.