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Speaking while visiting Malaysia, the minister asserts that Australia is a part of Asia

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - When visiting the city in Malaysia where she was born, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong claimed tha...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - When visiting the city in Malaysia where she was born, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong claimed that her experience proved that Australia was a part of Asia because, according to recent statistics, more than half of all Australians were either born abroad or to immigrants.

Wong made an official visit to Malaysia and stopped in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, where she spent her formative years for eight years before moving to Australia.

On her first trip to Malaysia since a Labor government took office last month, she told the reporters, "This is a very Australian experience since one in two Australians were either born overseas or have parents who were born overseas."

It's important for Australia to communicate with South East Asia in a way that acknowledges our shared history and future with the region, she added.

Results of the five-year census, which were announced on Tuesday, revealed that for the first time, 51.5% of Australians were either migrants themselves or the children of migrants.

"We live in a multicultural and varied country. It is one of Australia's assets, and we ought to convey that story more throughout the region "She spoke.

In a speech the previous day, Wong described how her Hakka Chinese grandmother had raised her children by herself in Sabah after the majority of her family perished in World War Two.

At the University of Adelaide, Wong's father received an Australian scholarship, which allowed him to "rise out of the poverty he endured as a boy."

He got married to an Australian woman, and they settled back in Kota Kinabalu to start a family.

Twenty years have passed since Mahathir Mohamad, a former Malaysian prime minister, made the infamous statement that Australia could not join an East Asian diplomatic group because "they are Europeans, they cannot be Asians." Wong's remarks and official visit to Malaysia coincide with that statement.

Mahathir subsequently stated in a 2019 newspaper interview that immigration would cause Australia to "be more Asian than European" in the future.

Late on Friday, Mahathir sent Reuters an email in which he expressed his pride at having an Australian foreign minister who was born in Malaysia and his belief that all countries would eventually have a diverse population due to "easy travel and porous borders."

According to the census, the top source countries for the nearly one-third of Australian residents who were born abroad were Britain, India, China, New Zealand, and the Philippines, with Asian countries collectively being a bigger source than Britain and New Zealand.

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