Detractors raise concerns about minister’s assertion that Malaysia is a viable investment destination, as corporations shun the country in favour of its neighbours
Updated 5 hours ago · Published on 10 Jan 2021 8:00AM
KUALA LUMPUR – Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz was at the receiving end of some scathing comments from international business leaders after he posted glowing statements about Malaysia’s position in the global economy on a social networking site.
Tengku Zafrul had recently shared a report by The Edge on LinkedIn, in which he talks about Malaysia’s economic strengths in the global community.
However, his decision to upload the article drew flak from a host of people, including international business players.
Eurocham Malaysia CEO Sven Scheider said: “I am very sorry to make this comment, but representing a sizable community of foreign investors, the European Union (EU), we currently receive a lot of concerns regarding Malaysia as a viable investment destination.”
In his comments, Sven said that Tengku Zafrul had failed to even meet investors and corporations to listen their concerns.
“Without these inputs, your ministry certainly cannot address the problems on the ground. Besides, it really needs more than a few nice words and window-dressing,” Sven said on LinkedIn.
Replying to another commenter, Sven mentioned that, despite how Vietnam has “aggressively moved ahead”, he still believes in Malaysia.
“I believe in Malaysia, and I know that we can achieve a lot together. We provide inputs on regulation, competition and attract investors together. This, in return, allows for the creation of thousands of job opportunities for Malaysians.”
In the article shared by Tengku Zafrul, he had referred to how Malaysia has recorded a total of RM109.8 billion worth of foreign and domestic direct investments, involving close to 3,000 projects in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors in the first nine months of 2020.
However, Collectr Sdn Bhd CEO Christian Angell Isaksen took the minister to task for pooling in foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic direct investment (DDI) into his figures.
“I don’t really see how this is good news. First of all, you are pooling FDI and DDI in your statement, which doesn’t really provide a barometer of FDI at all. How much of the RM110 billion is FDI?” Christian said.
He then went on to ask why a RM1.6 billion investment into 1,800 jobs was a good thing, pointing out that each job would then cost RM900,000.
Meanwhile, Federation of Asian African Trade Development and Investments secretary-general Datuk Thiwakkaran referred to how large corporations have moved away from Malaysia to greener pastures nearby.
“But larger corporations are leaving Malaysia and moving to our neighbouring countries, like Indonesia and Vietnam, and our people are losing jobs and opportunities. What is the measure that the government and Finance Ministry are going to take to over this issue?” he said.
In the Edge report, Tengku Zafrul had also mentioned Putrajaya’s investment of RM1.57 billion to create high-skilled jobs.
But Pial Khadilla Abdullah, who heads the Global Institute For Tomorrow (Asean) office in Kuala Lumpur, touched on the fact that Malaysia has a largely unskilled workforce.
“According to Dr Muhammed Khalid’s book, ‘Antara Dua Darjat’, only about 10% of our workforce are bachelor’s degree holders. Between 60% and 70% are diploma or certificate holders, so what about just jobs before high-skilled jobs?” she said.
In the Edge report on January 7, Tengku Zafrul had claimed that Malaysia is well-positioned in the global economic arena, referring to a Bloomberg report stating that Malaysia ranks fifth among emerging economies as a key destination for business. – The Vibes, January 10, 2021