MALACCA: An international shipping port is being planned for Malacca after China identified the state as part of its 21st Century Maritime Silk Route economic belt (MSR).
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the existing port here would be expanded to meet international standards.
"Admiral Zheng He landed in Malacca some 600 years ago, and this has placed the historic city as part of the MSR belt.
"A vast opportunity awaits Malacca under MSR, and we will start with the port expansion as part of the initiative," he said after attending the Malacca MCA Chinese New Year open house at Pay Fong middle school on Thursday.
The event was also attended by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron, his predecessor Tan Sri Ali Rustam, Malacca deputy MCA chairman Datuk Gan Tian Loo and several other state leaders.
"We are still planning the project to make Malacca port part of the Chinese MSR initiative, and I have discussed this with my counterpart from China," he said.
Liow added that his ministry had suggested that cruise liners ferry tourists from China directly to Malacca through the MSR maritime route.
"We will offer more facilities for Chinese tourists arriving here," he said, adding that the initiative would help promote investments from the Chinese business community.
Liow said the MSR was mooted by Chinese President Xi Jinping as China was eager to increase its maritime cooperation and explore trade opportunities.
On a separate matter, Liow said his ministry was seeking the cooperation of several airlines to use the Malacca International Airport in Batu Berendam.
On protests by Chinese relatives of MH370 passengers here, Liow said that he had asked Malaysia Airlines to answer their questions.
"We do understand their feelings as they lost loved ones. MAS has been told to meet the group of relatives and see what we can offer them," he said.
The relatives had gathered outside the Prime Minister's office on Wednesday to demand that Malaysia rescind the declaration that all on board Flight MH370 were presumed dead.