Pandas will boost tourism to Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - The two pandas to be loaned to Malaysia by China will boost the tourism industry as it will attract more foreign visitors, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She said foreign tourists were expected to flock to Malaysia to see the giant pandas once they were brought here.

"I expect an influx of tourists from countries like Indonesia and Singapore," Dr Ng said after launching Malaysia Festival of the Mind at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman here yesterday.

The loan request for the pair of pandas was made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao during his visit to Nanning in April.

Dr Ng also revealed that the female panda that would be on loan to Malaysia was fertile.

"We are hopeful it will be able to produce baby pandas during its 10-year stay here," said Dr Ng.

On critics who questioned Malaysia's ability to care for the pandas, she said China would not have agreed to lend them if Malaysia was not capable of taking good care of the animals.

Malaysia, she said, had all the capability to take good care of the mammals and added that the Government would work closely with panda conservation specialists from China.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Malaysia is aiming to lure more investments from China, particularly in the field of telecommunications, transportation, construction and steel manufacturing under the country's Economic Trans­formation Programme, reports Bernama.

He said Malaysia welcomed multinational companies from China to undertake the RM8bil (S$3.2billlion) Gemas to Johor Baru Electrified Double-Tracking project that would span over 197km.

"We are delighted too that China has invited Malaysia to tap the halal products market in Ning Xia. I do hope that more joint venture projects will be undertaken both in Malaysia and China in the future," he said at a dinner last night which was hosted for a visiting Chinese Communist Party delegation.

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