Rafidah's many overseas missions to attract foreign investments should
be cancelled if the government has taken policy decision not to depend on
FDIs, starting with her Japanese mission from March 10 - 18
by Lim Kit Siang
Monday): The Prime Minister, Datuk
Seri Dr. Mahasthir Mohamad said in Langkawi on Saturday that Malaysia
"did not want to continue depending on foreign direct investment (FDI) but
would focus on local investment". (Bernama)
If the government does not want foreign direct investment, then the first
thing it should do is to cancel all the overseas investment missions of the
Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Rafidah Aziz planned
for the rest of this year, as it would be a waste of public funds when the
government no longer wanted FDIs.
Rafidah is slated to lead an investment mission to Japan (Fukuoka, Kobe and
Nagoya) from March 10-18, followed by missions to the United States
(Raleigh, Minneapolis and Seattle) from April 7 to 17, visits to Bahrain
(Manama), United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Lebanon (Beirut) and Saudi Arabia
(Jeddah) from April 27 to May 7 and to China (Guangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing
and Shanghai) from May 19-30.
Other investment missions which Rafidah had lined up for the rest of the
year would include Europe (Germany, United Kingdom and Spain) from June 9-17
and Taiwan (Taipei) and Korea (Seoul and Busan) from August 4-12.
If the government has arrived at a new policy decision as indicated by
Mahathir that the government did not want to continue to depend on FDIs for
growth, then what is the use and purpose of Rafidah continuing with her many
overseas investment missions in the coming months?
In actual fact, the question is not that Malaysia does not want FDIs but
that FDIs are avoiding Malaysia as a destination, for two reasons: China has
become a more powerful magnet for FDIs and increasing factors which have
made FDIs more wary of coming to Malaysia, such as:
Malaysia's international image as a "terrorist centre';
Malaysia's international perception as an Islamic State
following the "929 Declaration" by Mahathir that Malaysia is an Islamic
State on Sept. 29, 2001 at the Gerakan national delegates' conference; and
Mahathir's image as increasingly anti-West, especially with his
recent repeated advocacy of the use of the oil weapon by the Islamic
countries against the US and the West, placing him in the company of Saddam
Hussein of Iraq as the two leaders publicly espousing the use of the oil
weapon against the West in recent years.
There may be very little that Malaysia could do with China
emerging as the biggest magnet for FDIs, but the increasingly adverse image
of Malaysia to FDIs because of local domestic factors should be urgently
addressed and overcome to ensure that Malaysia remain attractive to FDIs as
well as domestic investment.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National