Bumi equity in foreign eateries:
another blow to Malaysia's image
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
Ismail Raja Mohamad, Director General of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs
Ministry confirmed yesterday that all eateries wholly-owned by foreigners
will now be required to have a minimum paid up capital of RM1 million with
30 percent Bumiputera equity (NST, March 24, 2005).
The new guidelines also require
the compliance of existing eateries and restaurants.
Failure to comply with this new
requirement will result in non-renewal of business operating licenses and
work permits for expatriate staff, including the foreign proprietors
Such move is unthinkable in the
age of globalization, at a time when the country is fighting hard to survive
as a player in world trade and industry.
Malaysia will become a laughing
stock in the eyes of foreign investors and the move certainly would not help
to arrest the exodus of factories and dwindling foreign investments in
Many factories were closed down
in Bukit Raja, Petaling Jaya, Penang, Shah Alam, Klang and other free trade
zones in the country. Do our policymakers know the actual reasons behind the
exodus of Motorola, Walls Ice-creams, Breeze, Philips and many other big
Coming back to the 30%
Bumiputera equity requirement, what would happen to those eateries and
restaurants selling non-halal food and liquor? How do they get Bumi
If the move is said to aim at
protecting the local industry, why then the equity requirement was strictly
confined to Bumiputeras?
What has happened to the
promise of taking away the walking sticks or clutches so that Malaysians can
proudly walk with our own feet?
Must we continue to hold on to
the clutches and never be able to stand up with our own strength in pride
The fact that Malaysia has a
great variety of food and cuisines has been always our pride and advantage.
Many foreign tourists and travellers love to visit Malaysia largely because
they like the diversity of culture in this country, where food is certainly
one of the main attractions. What do we benefit from curbing the growth of
foreign eateries and restaurants (which is a plus to our varieties of food)
in our country?
We spend millions of ringgit in
advertisements and promotions every year to sell Malaysia through Tourism
Malaysia. We claim Malaysia as ‘Truly Asia’. All these efforts will go
down to the drains if such insensible, illogical and unreasonable move be
allowed to implement here.
Would you imagine our
neighboring countries like Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia also impose
such a crazy ruling in their countries?
Is there another better way to
kill the spirit of free enterprise, which is the lifeline of modern day
Let’s pray for senses to
return to the heads of the Cabinet Ministers.
* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew,
DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief