Kuala Lumpur – The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Ambassador Brian D. McFeeters from innovatively interacting with different parts of Malaysia. From September 27 to October 1st, 2021, Ambassador McFeeters conducted a virtual visit to Sarawak through a series of meetings with Sarawak government officials, businesses, NGOs and Sarawakian alumni of U.S. Embassy exchange programs to discuss U.S. – Sarawak cooperation on public health, the environment, digital inclusion, people-to-people exchanges, and more.
The Sarawak trip was Ambassador McFeeters’ third virtual visit outside of the Klang Valley. Prior to this, Ambassador McFeeters visited Sabah in August and Penang in July.
During his Sarawak visit, Ambassador McFeeters met with the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, as well as the Minister in charge of Health Datuk Seri Dr. Sim Kui Hian. Ambassador McFeeters discussed the U.S. government’s desire to strengthen the U.S. – Sarawak public health partnership with both leaders. COVID-19 remains the top priority for the United States, and the U.S. Embassy will continue to assist Malaysia to fight the pandemic. In addition to the one million doses of Pfizer vaccines donated to Malaysia in July, the U.S. government provided RM2 million for ambulance donations and other support to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) in Sabah and Sarawak last year. The United States will also continue to support and encourage research partnerships that help to identify future zoonotic diseases and their threats, such as that between Duke University and Sibu Hospital.
Ambassador McFeeters also shared the U.S. government’s focus on climate change and the desire to support Sarawak in pursuing its clean energy agenda with the Deputy Chief Minister, PETROS Group CEO Datuk Sauu Kakok, as well as Sarawak Biodiversity Center CEO Dr. Charlie Yeo. Ambassador McFeeters highlighted the U.S. government’s interest in providing technical assistance and exchanging best practices in green energy technology, conservation, and biotech to tackle the climate crisis. They discussed the potential of importing U.S. technology and products to support Malaysian companies in their clean energy agenda and also explored ways scientific and research cooperation with U.S. firms and institutions can be increased.
The United States will continue to work with partners in Sarawak to promote Sarawak’s security and prosperity. In his meetings with the Deputy Chief Minister and Opposition Leader Dato’ Sri Wong Soon Koh, Ambassador McFeeters highlighted the U.S. commitment to security cooperation in Sarawak and discussed shared priorities to address border security, human rights, and issues pertaining to the stateless community in Sarawak.
In addition, the United States remains committed to pursuing digital inclusion and youth empowerment with Sarawak. Since 2004, the U.S. Embassy has partnered with Pustaka Negeri Sarawak to host American Corner (AC) Sarawak, a platform for Sarawakians to visit and learn more about the United States and the U.S. – Malaysia partnership. American Corner Sarawak has been vital in organizing education outreach and programs that encourage and support young makers and creators through access to technology and other resources. Over the coming year, AC Sarawak will also focus on programs related to digital literacy and digital economy. Ambassador McFeeters highlighted the value of this partnership during his meeting with Pustaka Negeri Sarawak’s Acting CEO Puan Arpah Adenan to continue impacting youth in these areas.
Finally, Ambassador McFeeters had the opportunity to learn about Sarawak’s history and cultural diversity through a virtual tour with Sarawakian alumni of U.S. government exchange programs. The interactive session also introduced Ambassador McFeeters to Sarawak’s unique local cuisine. Ambassador McFeeters appreciated the opportunity to “visit” Sarawak and looks forward to visiting in person as soon as conditions allow.
Other examples of the U.S. partnership in Sarawak include:
• On August 19, Ambassador McFeeters launched the second cohort of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs in Malaysia, which includes 10 participants from Sarawak. The program aims to equip women with the tools and skills needed to create and grow their businesses. Another 10 Sarawakian businesswomen graduated from the program this year.
• Through the U.S. Maritime Security Initiative, the Royal Malaysian Air Forces (RMAF) will soon receive three upgraded CN235 planes. The upgrade will increase RMAF maritime patrolling capabilities in the South China Sea. The first aircraft delivery is expected to arrive in Kuching in the coming months.
• The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. Through a variety of programs and engagements, including U.S. educational and cultural exchanges, regional exchanges, and seed funding, YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture an ASEAN community.
- This October, the U.S. Embassy in collaboration with the Biji-biji Initiative and Me.reka will launch YSEALI Bootcamp 2021: Sparking Digital Action – Borneo Edition. The program will consist of a webinar series, a three-week boot camp, and a mentorship component all designed to empower youth to champion social issues facing communities in Sabah and Sarawak, with a focus on the themes of diversity and inclusion, the environment, and digital equity.
- The Embassy also plans to organize a YSEALI regional workshop on digital connectivity in Sarawak in 2022. Young leaders from Sarawak, Malaysia, and other ASEAN countries will gather to discuss how connectivity and digital access can transform communities and economies.
Upcoming People-to-People Opportunities:
• Applications are now open for the U.S. government-funded Community Solutions Program (CSP). CSP provides international community leaders (age 25-38), with a four-month professional development experience in the United States that includes a 35-hour per week practicum at a U.S. host organization and a 10-hour per week leadership development course. Notable alumni include social entrepreneurs Melisa Lin, Lilian Chen and Chan Zi Xing through Langit Collective, which promotes unique and heirloom agricultural produce from farmers in East Malaysia.
•Apply now to connect with other emerging community leaders and collaborate with American NGOs to achieve sustainable economic, social, political, and environmental development: http://bit.ly/csp2022apply
• Photo Gallery
• Social media posts from the visit:
Meeting with Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas
Meeting with Opposition Leader Dato’ Sri Wong Soon Koh
Meeting with PETROS Ceo and Leadership Team
Ambassador Virtual Tour and Lunch with Sarawakian Alumni
For additional posts, please visit the Embassy’s social media accounts.