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Jan 4, 2024

EUVP Visit Story – Tharma Pillai

Photo Mr Tharma PILLAIIntroduction

My participation in the European Union Visitors Programme (EUVP) was both unique and unforgettable. Initially nominated in 2021 to represent Malaysia, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a virtual engagement. However, in January 2023, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the EUVP organizing team, my in person visit became a reality.

Brussels: Engaging with Influential Figures

The Brussels segment was especially memorable for visiting the European Parliament and meeting Antoine Ripoll, Director for Parliamentary Relations with ASEAN/South East Asia. These interactions offered invaluable insights into the Parliament's operations and laid the groundwork for future collaboration. Discussions with the EEAS Head of Division for Southeast Asia and ASEAN on EU-Malaysia human rights and trade relationships further illuminated the complexities of these critical issues, specifically covering the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR). Other key meetings included discussions on combating disinformation and understanding the EU Digital Services Act with an EP Press Officer, as well as exploring sustainable corporate governance with a representative of DG GROW, and delving into issues of decent work and global supply chains with representatives from DG EMPL. These discussions collectively offered a holistic view of the EU's efforts in digital governance, corporate responsibility, and social affairs, equipping me with diverse insights relevant to advancing democracy and human rights in Malaysia and ASEAN.

Paris: A Cultural and Historical Highlight

In Paris, the visit to the House of Jean Monet stood out as a highlight. This iconic location, where key European documents were signed, offered a profound historical perspective on the EU's formation and evolution. The experience at the museum brought to life the significance of these documents in shaping the European landscape.

Future Goals: Impacting Malaysia and ASEAN

Inspired by the insights gained, I am committed to translating these learnings into tangible initiatives for Malaysia and the ASEAN region. The EU's strategies in human rights, democracy, and trade will serve as a model for enhancing our efforts, especially in empowering youth and strengthening democratic processes.

Acknowledging the Organizers

My heartfelt gratitude goes to the EUVP organizing team, for their meticulous planning and unwavering support, which made this enriching experience possible.


This EUVP journey was not only educational but also pivotal in forming lasting connections and gathering knowledge to advance Undi18’s objectives and positively impact the ASEAN community. My appreciation extends to the Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia for the nomination and I hope for the continued flourishing of Malaysia-EU relations.