Ways to accelerate economic development in Perak

DAP Malaysia's 37 th Anniversary Dinner- "Love Malaysia Save Malaysia"
by MKula Segaran

(Ipoh, Sunday):  The Menteri Besar (MB) of Perak has spoken to the press that ways must be found to accelerate economic development in Ipoh and Perak as a whole. In fact the domestic investment in Perak for the first 6 months of 2002 is only RM160 million which is extremely low as compared to many other states in Malaysia.

Perak used to be prided as the most developed state in the 60's. But today the Perak state it lags in all aspects and sectors of the Malaysian economy. Although all states in Malaysia had high economic growth but Perak had little development in terms of new townships, commercial centers and infrastructure set up. Penang in the north and Selangor in the south of Perak had a very high economic growth but Perak was not only left out but its population had to migrate mainly to these states to seek employment. Thus in all respect Perak lacks in economic and infrastructure set up that Selangor and Penang boosts about.

We suggest to attract investments the following need to be looked into:

1) Many potential investors have been wooed to neighboring states, as the costs of land premiums are minimal. Thus the state government must lower its land premiums to attract these investors. Also there is a urgent need to get the Federal Government to give special incentives like tax holidays to encourage business to be located in Ipoh .A thorough study ought to be carried out to ascertain why companies like Saveskin, ScanCon and many others have moved out their operations and have relocated them overseas? From our knowledge we are given to understand that these industries were having administrative bottleneck with the state officers and department.

2) Revamp State corporations, which has not been financially well managed. Many of the Perak State Economic Corporations subsidiaries are running at a loss. This is because
generally those appointed to manage these corporations are inefficient. Many of the administrators have been selected based on their political connection to the B.N government and not on merits.

3) At one time in the 60's Ipoh had more millionaires than any other town in Malaysia. We
need to find out how to bring more economic activity so that Ipoh can be a vibrant city again.

4) Conduct a study as to why nearly 1/3 of the City shops is vacant. Even new townships like Station 18 along Jalan Pasir Puteh is largely vacant.

5) We suggest that the State Government to begin a real dynamic drive to persuade all big
companies and Public listed companies to move their activity to Ipoh. There are many Perak based companies that are having their main office(HQ) in Kuala Lumpur.

In this context the state government should give special incentives/privileges to companies like KLK Bhd., Choo Bee Bhd, Eee Lee Bhd.and many others who have located their HQ in Ipoh. Undoubtedly the presence of these Public Listed Companies creates employment opportunity and the related activity contributing to Ipoh's growth. The Government should encourage the private sector to invest and expand their activity in Ipoh and in Perak as a whole.

We suggest that government to include DAP leaders as part of the contingent when it makes trips oversees to woo investors. Many of the western foreign countries which are doing economically well are of socialist government. DAP being an old member of the Socialist international can contribute by persuading these socialist governments to invest or assist in economic growth of Perak state. It need to be observed that despite numerous trips overseas by the Perak MB and their entorage in the past, not much has been achieved to the benefit of this state.

6} Conduct a study whether any progress or benefit has been achieved by being a twin city of Fukoka in Japan. Although the current Datuk Bandar is the fifth in line, not much progress is in sight. There is no pleasure living or recreational facilities in the state. A pedestrian mall for people to hang out can be constructed in Ipoh and other towns in Perak to encourage healthy lifestyle. Good values and ethics practiced in Fukoka, particularly in the commercial sector ought to be followed and practiced here

7) Improve the administration management (government).

8) Take initiative to make Perak as a center for education

9) Stricter enforcement of law to wipe out corruption and red tape which is widely
prevalent. Criminal activities which is on an increase and threat from extremist and terrorist groups need to be checked and dealt with immediately as it may shoo away potential investors.

10) Abolish or reduce highway toll charges.

But all the above suggestions become meaningless unless corruption and cronyism is weeded out. It is a known fact that high incidence of corruption amongst ruling politicians is the real stumbling block for Foreign Direct Investment in the state of Perak.

The State government needs to address the above matters in an objective manner.

The DAP urges the MB to table a motion in the up coming State Assembly meeting in March to discuss openly as to how to better the present investment position.


*  M. Kula Segaran, DAP Perak Secretary