Malaysia Can Only Succeed To Brand Itself Internationally As A Corporate Nation With Good Governance; Transparent Timely And Truthful Disclosure; Effective Action Against Corruption; And A Culture Of Excellence And Accountability
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP is prepared to support in the national interests Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s efforts to brand Malaysia internationally as a corporate nation with integrity, quality, security, service and efficiency. However, the failure of Malaysia so far is not so much caused by poor investor relations or weak publicity skills but due to the government’s refusal to recognize the weaknesses and failure to overcome them.
Malaysia can only succeed if Datuk Abdullah adopts 4 practices that would impress foreign investors’ namely good governance; transparent, timely and truthful disclosure of information; effective action against corruption; and inculcating a culture of excellence and accountability. Without these 4 qualities a corporate nation with integrity, quality, security service and efficiency would be mere lip service.
For instance in spite of Datuk Abdullah’s promise to curb corruption, the quality of that promise is open to doubt when no progress is made against corruption. Actions against VIPs involved in corruption were taken mostly before the 2004 general elections, whilst the 18 VIPs under investigation “disappeared” when nothing was heard of after the elections.
The action against UMNO officials suspended from holding party posts for practicing money politics in UMNO elections also backfired when those suspended were allowed to cling on the government posts. Amongst UMNO wakil rakyats who were suspended are Silam MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Entrepreneur Development And Co-operatives Ministry Samsu Abdul Rahman suspended as Silam UMNO Division deputy head, UMNO MP for Titiwangsa Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz suspended as Wangsa Maju Division head and Melaka State EXCO member for Tourism Heritage And Culture Datuk Amid Nordin suspended as Kota Melaka UMNO division head.
It does not make sense that you can be a Minister even though you are not qualified to hold posts in UMNO. Worse the ACA was not allowed to investigate and take action on such money politics even though it is a corrupt practice. Clearly being an UMNO official requires a higher moral and ethical standard than holding a government post.
Such selective and double-standards does not inspire confidence amongst foreign investors when the Transparency International said the perception of corruption in Malaysia has worsened with Malaysia sliding from 37th in 2003 to 39th in 2004. The time has come for the Prime Minister to make good his promises and strike fear in the hearts of those who are corrupt when there are still so many abuses of power from illegal logging to wasteful and defective completion of government projects.
Is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) In 2003 RM 9.4 Billion As Stated By The Prime Minister Or RM 15.6 Billion As Announced By Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz?
The government must also overcome the problem of differing economic figures and contradictory statistics that appears to be manipulated to put the government in favourable light. Datuk Abdullah said yesterday that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) increased to RM 17.9 billion in 2004 as compared to RM 9.4 billion for 2003.
These figures contradicts the Malaysia International Development Agency annual report presented by Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz on 10 March 2005. Datuk Seri Rafidah had announced that the FDI commitments for manufacturing and related services sector in Malaysia for 2004 fell 16% to RM 13.10 billion from RM15.60 billion in 2003.
The difference RM 5.2 billion is distressing. This begs the 5.2 billion ringgit question whether FDI in 2003 is RM 9.4 billion as stated by Datuk Seri Abdullah or RM 15.6 billion as stated by Datuk Rafidah. If top Malaysian leaders can not even agree on statistics, how can we inspire confidence amongst foreign investors?
Similarly is our FDI for 2004 RM 17.4 billion as announced by Datuk Abdullah or RM 13.1 billion as announced by Datuk Rafidah? Such discrepancy in figures cast doubts on all other published data of our economic performance. Foreign investors have a right to expect timely, transparent and truth disclosure. Malaysians have a right to expect a more responsible and professional performance from our country’s economic managers!
Good governance as well as a corporate culture of excellence and accountability are important requirements sought by foreign investors. Singapore is a good example how a country without natural resources can fashion itself to be an internationally renowned trade centre by relying solely only on human resources and accepted practices.
As Datuk Abdullah said, the time for honeymoon is over. Now is the time to act and deliver. And Malaysians are still waiting.
* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General