ASHGABAT (Turkmenistan), Oct 28 Malaysian professionals working abroad with special skills and capabilities are viewed with high regard, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
The prime minister said in recent times there are many overseas-based Malaysians with professional and specialised jobs such as engineers, pilots, doctors, and not manual workers or domestic helpers.
Malaysians are held with high regard because of this. If we are to take up labour-intensive jobs abroad, foreigners will not look at it that way. This is because our workers abroad have special capabilities and are able to contribute to the nations where they are based.
I hope all Malaysians will go that way, by seeking knowledge, equipping themselves with skills and become professionals abroad, he said at a dinner with some 80 members of the Malaysian diaspora in Turkmenistan on Sunday night.
The premier's wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Malaysian Ambassador to Turkmenistan, Roseli Abdul were also present.
Dr Mahathir, who is here on a two-day official visit beginning Sunday, said he was proud of foreign-based Malaysians' capabilities, adding that they even lend their contributions to the nation's development efforts when they finally return home.
Their country is always on their minds even when they are working abroad, and when they return home, they contribute their expertise, and with these contributions, Malaysia will be a developed nation and no more a developing one.
To be on par with the developed nations, that is our aspiration. Some even say we are half-way there while some are of the view that we already are (a developed country), but the truth is we have not become one yet.
We need to work hard to excel in all fields so that we can contribute towards the country's modernisation and the world in general, he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said national petroleum company, Petronas' ability and expertise in developing the oil and gas industry in Malaysia and abroad such as Turkmenistan was an outstanding achievement.
He said Petronas' success in being able to operate in various parts of the world was because its employees are good in the field, in the process earning global recognition.
Today, the world recognises Petronas as a giant in the field of oil and gas. Petronas is not just local oil producers, it has now ventured into the global stage as well, he said.
After two high profile visits by Turkmenistan leaders in 1994, its government was made aware of Petronas' experience and accomplishments in the oil and gas industry and invited the national petroleum company to invest in the country.
Two years later, in 1996, Petronas obtained a 32-year Production Sharing Contract (PSC) licence for exploration and production of oil and gas in the Block-1 offshore area in the Caspian Sea.
Turkmenistan has the fourth-largest natural gas reserves in the world behind Russia, Iran and Qatar, with an estimated proven reserve of 20 trillion cubic metres.
However, the numbers could be higher as much of its natural gas deposits haven't been explored.
Source: Office of the Prime Minster Malaysia