Australia’s first foreign-born foreign minister, Penny Wong, is in Malaysia – – the country of her birth to the world – – for talks on security and instability in Myanmar.
On Thursday, she got back to Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah where she was brought into the world in 1968. She left with her Australian mother when she was 8.
Penny Wong has attempted to reaffirm Australia’s image as an increasingly different country that is at home in Asia.
Australia, a former British colony, has in the past been considered a generally Anglo outpost.
In any case, late census data has shown that the greater part of its people was born overseas or had an immigrant parent.
Tim Harcourt, the chief economist at the University of Technology Sydney, said he accepts Australia’s regional neighbors value its cultural diversity.
“I think the Asian nations are really good at understanding Australia’s multicultural nature,” he said. “There is a good understanding of that and someone like Penny Wong herself, you know, born in Malaysia. Her father’s Malaysian, and her mum was from Adelaide. So, she is a mix herself and I think it is the mix you get together between the Anglo-Celtic heritage, the Indigenous heritage, and modern Australia when you have got every nationality under the sun. I think it is the mix together that is the strength, not one community or the other.”
Penny Wong likewise examined regional security and safeguard collaboration with senior Malaysian officials.
They have reiterated their concerns about Australia’s plans for a nuclear-powered submarine fleet under the AUKUS coalition with the United States and Great Britain.
Malaysia and Indonesia have communicated concerns Australia’s proposed submarine capacity could light a regional arms race.
Penny Wong was in Vietnam for talks recently. This is her second visit to Southeast Asia since the Labor party won the election in Australia on May 21.
Penny Wong has likewise traveled with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Indonesia and has likewise made three trips to the Pacific to counter China’s security and trade ambitions in a region that Canberra regards as its traditional sphere of influence.