The removal of the Bumiputra equity quota for foreign investments and property transactions is no longer sufficient to attract Foreign Direct Investments to Malaysia in today’s competitive global environment. These measures should have been put into place when Malaysia was in the forefront of the new developing countries with Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Today, these countries are way ahead of us together with other economies such as China and India. Countries that were behind us in their development; Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have removed their restrictions on foreign ownership and have provided a whole series of incentives very much earlier and have attracted FDI to their countries. The removal of these restrictions and the abolishing of the FIC therefore are too little too late and will not be sufficient to attract FDI to return to Malaysia. Once the FDI have left they are not going to return. These moves are not going to give us the edge needed in the competition for FDI.
What is needed today to attract fresh FDI is for the government to have the political will to fix the real problems behind the country’s lost of competitiveness. These are firstly corruption, secondly the country’s high crime rate, thirdly the lack of an independent judiciary and the fourthly the inefficient education system producing school leavers without the necessary skills and abilities to enter the work force.
It must also not be forgotten that by Barisan Nasional’s own admission as one of the excuse for continuing the NEP is that the objective of eradicating poverty, has not been achieved and indeed it has not as we can see with the growing urban poor crowding in the cities’ slums. Therefore the removal of these restrictions without providing for affirmative programs (without consideration of race and religion) for the poor and disadvantaged will cause them to remain trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty. This will only lead to a widening of the gap between the rich and the poor in Malaysia. The Prime Minister must not in the attempt to gain popular support come out with knee jerk reactions that will lead to dire consequences to the social economic conditions in the country.
William Leong Jee Keen
Member of Parliament