Lasse Reimann’s KL posting ends

Danish envoy Lasse Reimann ended his posting as Danish Ambassador to Malaysia in December 2003, after six successful years of strengthening ties between the two countries.
     Reimann, whose six year service in Malaysia makes him one of Europe’s longest serving ambassadors in Malaysia, has presided over major Danish investments in the country. He told Malaysian English-language daily The Star early December, that the Danes are here to stay, in good times and bad times.
     “The Danes who expanded their businesses here have persevered when the chips were down in 1997. None of us turned our backs on Malaysia because we knew that you would come around the corner,” said the departing envoy, who was posted here in 1997.
     Some Danish companies had been investing in Malaysia for almost 100 years, such as United Plantations Bhd, which expanded here in 1906.
     Reimann also mentioned one of the major developments in the maritime industry, when the world’s largest container liners Maersk Sealand moved its Asian container hub to Tanjung Pelepas from Singapore in October 2000.
     “It was a big decision then and their move has proven to be the right thing to do. Their operations in Tanjung Pelepas are very successful,” he told the Malaysian daily, adding that the expansion of the port, with more piers being built, will result in greater business volume.
     Maersk Sealand also holds a 30% stake in the port.
     According to Reimann, more Danish investments are heading here as Malaysia is an attractive investment center.
     “More investments are in the pipeline. Danish firms also see Malaysia as an ideal platform for marketing into the region and beyond ASEAN into countries like Australia and China.”
     He pointed out to The Star that some of the advantages which have made Malaysia an attractive investment destination for the Danes are the easy regulations with regard to setting up a business in the country, the straightforward procedures, good infrastructure and use of English language.
     In term of bilateral trade, Denmark’s main exports to Malaysia are machinery and equipment, food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, while its Malaysian imports are mostly computer products, electronic equipment, vegetable and raw mineral oils. To Reimann, the relation is pleasant.
     “I am pleased that Malaysian exports to Denmark are rising, and that our goods are also very marketable here.”
     Reimann has spent all his annual holidays in Malaysia, with Cameron Highlands being his favourite retreat – the 61-year-old envoy has been up the hill resort 20 times in all.
     His trips there, however, have not just been for leisure. He has been solidly supporting environmental protection activities and raising these concerns on many of his travels to the nature retreat and to other scenic spots around the country.
     During one visit to Cameron Highlands, Reimann has praised the Society of Regional Environmental Awareness of Camerons Highlands (Reach) as a model organization that influenced development in an environmentally sound way.
     “Reach is a valid player in efforts to reach sustainable solutions in the fragile environment of Cameron Highlands,” he has said.
     In July, he announced a three-year MYR1.1-million grant from the Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA) to Reach and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia to support their water resource, solid waste and land use management projects.
     The nature-loving envoy has also been at the forefront of the continuing collaboration between the Danish and Malaysian governments on environmental issues such as energy, waste management and biodiversity.
     Malaysia receives about MYR30 million annually from Denmark under the Malaysian-Danish Environmental Cooperation Programme for energy efficiency and renewable projects.
     “Following the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, Denmark committed itself to supporting environmental efforts, including countries well above the level of qualifying for development aid,” he recounted his country’s ties with Malaysia with regard to development assistance.
     “Malaysia was among the countries that we wanted to work with. We are not doing this (providing assistance) here to achieve any specific Danish goal,” Reimann explained.
     “We consider this effort as a partnership between Denmark and Malaysia. I am very pleased that Malaysia has now taken more ownership of environmental issues such as energy efficiency, renewable waste management and environmental planning.”
     Reimann was also involved in the Clean Development Mechanism, another fresh area of impending cooperation with Malaysia, under which developed countries like Denmark would assist developing nations to achieve specific environmental goals.
     “This effort will involve the private sector here and we already have an understanding with your government. We are looking at several companies with specific projects in mind.”
     Reimann mentioned his country’s involvement in the Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry’s Low Energy Office (LEO) building in Putrajaya, which will open next year.
     “The building will be an important demonstration of how a modern office building can conserve energy,” he said with pride.
     The Danish Ambassador has already flown back to his home country on December 17 for a vacation before starting with his new assignment in Europe’s westernmost country of Iceland early next year. His successor, Borge Petersen, will be arriving in Kuala Lumpur in February to assume his post in Malaysia.

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