France were among the very first countries that Malaysia had diplomatic relations after gaining independence. With over six decades of mutual cooperation, one wonders what more can be done to deepen the bilateral relationship. It seems, France’s Ambassador Frederic Laplanche believes there’s a lot still to be done.
“Malaysia has always been a strong partner for France in this region,” says Ambassador Laplanche.
“Our two great nations have struck plenty of commercial and defence works over the years that have benefited both countries well. But this is just a small part or what our two countries can do. We can do so much more in the areas of culture integration, language, and or course, education,” he adds.
If there’s an area that we can look to improve on, is in education and cultural exchanges
“Did you know that the first person to cultivate palm oil was a Frenchman named Henri Fauconnier?” asks Laplanche. “This is just one of the many examples of how our tradition goes a long way in the region."
In the business area, France has had a tremendous growth in commercial activity in Malaysia. “AXA, a French insurer is well positioned in the Malaysian insurance business,” says Laplanche.
“Peugeot has just acquired a plant in Kedah. The French minister of the Armed Forces have visited your Defence Minister. All these are showing our strong ties in the business and defence area. But if there’s an area that we can look to improve on, is in education and cultural exchanges,” he says.
Traditionally, English speaking countries or have English as their second language would veer their educational aspirations to either the United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand, or the United States. But France has an interesting appeal to all this and provides a unique alternative for education-seekers.
“In France, there are over thousands of courses offered in English. It would be a smooth transition for people in Malaysia to study in France,” explains Laplanche. “But having said this, why not take the opportunity and invest in yourself by learning French, and open the doors to an extremely cheap tertiary education by enrolling yourself in a French university.
“In France, a normal university education would cost you one thousand and five hundred ringgit. Not Euros, but ringgit!” exclaims Laplanche.
The low education fees are attributable to the socialist nature of France, and is also seen in other European countries like Germany and the Scandinavian nations. But Malaysia is still very limited in French exposure, from language to culture, and the Ambassador has a quick fix on this too.
“Starting 12th April, we will host Le French Festival. The event will be in key cities of Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, and Johor Bahru,” says Laplanche. “There will be French movie screenings, and other cultural activities that will take place, and will provide a fantastic opportunity for Malaysians to learn more about France and the French people,” he concludes.
To learn more about how to enrich yourself with the French culture, head on to lefrenchfestival.com.my
Watch the full interview with France’s Ambassador to Malaysia
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