by DAPSY Acting National Secretary, Loke Siew Fook
on Wednesday, September 25, 2002
in Petaling Jaya
Foreign Minister or even the Prime Minister himself must work out all the necessary diplomatic means to get the US government to de-list Malaysia from the “terrorist-risk” countries and the Canadian government to retract the visa regulations imposed on Malaysians.
The blacklisting of Malaysia as one of the 15 “terrorist
risk” countries by the US Immigration and the imposition of visas for
Malaysians entering Canada has no doubt branded and strengthen the notion that
Malaysia is now a terrorist hotbed, an Islamic country nestling Islamic
militants and not a safe place to be among the international community
especially the foreign investors and tourist.
These developments are a major blow to Malaysia’s
international image especially at a time when our country’s international
competitiveness has slipped to 26th position, one of the weakest
among competitive economies in Asia. It will also not help to push up the low
Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to Malaysia, which only amounted to RM 3
billion in 2002.
The unfair portrayal of Malaysia’s international image by
the US and Canadian government has totally overshadowed the incentives announced
in the Budget 2003 by Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad last
Friday to lure foreign investors to Malaysia.
One of the strategies in Budget 2003 was to attract more
foreign Operational Headquarters companies (OHQs) and Representative Offices to
set up their operations in Malaysia. The incentives given to these foreign
companies are 10 years tax exemption and tax-free for expatriates on income form
services rendered abroad.
The government must realize that tax incentive alone is no
longer attractive for foreign investors to invest in a particular country
especially at a time when most of the developing economies in Asia are also
giving similar incentives. Other factors will be taken into consideration by
foreign investors such as the international image of the country, security
factors, political situation and others non-monetary incentives.
All thinking Malaysians will agree that our country is
still one of the safest and harmonious places to live in and all the hype about
the terrorist threats are unfounded. The problem is such a negative branding and
image of Malaysia will scare off investors who are not familiar with the real
situation in Malaysia and only depend on foreign media to judge the situation of
In view of such developments will hamper the chances of Malaysia attracting further foreign investments, the Foreign Minister or even the Prime Minister himself must work out all the necessary diplomatic means to get the US government to de-list Malaysia from the “terrorist-risk” countries and the Canadian government to retract the visa regulations imposed on Malaysians.