While the DAP led State Government is finding all sorts of excuses why there has been a huge drop of investments in Penang since they took over from BN in March 2008 ranging from the global downturn, lack of confidence to lack of skilled engineers etc. It is heartwarming to note that PM Najib has been tirelessly doing a lot of good deeds all over Malaysia in his personal and official capacity and the Western Digital’s decision to invest in Penang is certainly welcome news for Penangites in particular and Malaysia in general. Just hope that the DAP State Government this time will spare everything and give all its cooperation to Western Digital unlike last time..read here.
Penang FDI : Denial is not a strategy — Calvin Sankaran
May 31, 2010
MAY 31 — Western Digital’s decision to invest RM3.87 billion in Penang has provided a much-needed lifeline for the state’s faltering foreign direct investment (FDI) efforts and fading attractions as an investment hub. It is noteworthy that this FDI was secured with the personal involvement of our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
It is absolutely imperative that Penang spares no effort to maintain its position as a key node in the global electronic supply chain by having the right policies, physical infrastructure, human resources, technological and managerial skills, and last but not least, a strong and visionary political leadership.
However, the undeniable fact is that Penang has dramatically lost its competitive edge in the last few years. The disastrous and unprecedented 80 per cent drop in FDI in 2009 is a sad testament and reflection of this alarming collapse.
That Penang has performed far below the national average and other key states in attracting FDI is an even further cause for worry. While almost every country and every state had seen a drop in FDI in 2009, none has witnessed a contraction as severe as Penang’s.
In fact, in my more than two decades of working in Penang’s electronics industry, I can’t recall a time when the future of Penang’s industrial sector has looked bleaker.
It is highly regrettable that instead of admitting and acknowledging the problems and focusing on finding solutions, the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his key investment officers seem to be in a defensive, denial mode by trying to rationalise the plunge by offering excuses that just do not make sense at all.
Much had been said by the Penang state government on the shortages of workers experienced by the industry currently. The comments by the Japanese ambassador had been frequently quoted by the state officials to defend their failure in attracting FDI.
However, such excuses might able to find traction with the uninformed man on the street but not knowledgeable industry professionals, who will laugh off these claims. It is well known that during the recent global economic slowdown, there were thousands of workers laid-off in Penang.
As the global economy has picked up steam resulting in demand uptick, the factories naturally need workers again urgently to meet the increased orders. It is common sense that while firing workers can be done quickly, hiring them takes much longer. More knowledgeable government officials and leaders would have anticipated this and taken appropriate pro-active actions instead of passing the buck to others.
Lim also had been quoted as saying that his highly controversial decision to turn down FDI worth USD3.0 billion(RM 10 billion) was a right decision in the light of “severe” shortage of electronics engineers.
This unbelievable and unforgivable blunder was justifiably called the “mother of all blunders” by many industry professionals. This is sadly again a reflection of poor managerial decision making and shocking ineptitude on the part of the state leadership.
Perhaps Lim is unaware of the fact that global high-tech leader, the United States, and the cradle of innovation, Silicon Valley, would not be what they are today if not for imported talents from around the world. It is estimated that around 60 per cent of the Silicon Valley’s engineers and scientists are foreign-born. Closer to home, Singapore is another example where much of its technological advances are based heavily on “foreign talents”.
The fact is no country in the world can produce 1,000 engineers at any given moment, not even the most technically advanced nations in the world such as the US, Germany and Taiwan. It must be noted that Malaysians and Penang engineers are highly regarded globally and much sought after. As such it is a mockery to claim that we don’t have the resources when the top companies in the world keep hiring and luring our best brains away.
Lim certainly is the CM who had made the most number of overseas visits to attract FDI among the all Malaysian state leaders. From FDI statistics, he also appears to be the least productive as well. As an industry professional, it appears to me that the real problem is political interference, a lack of knowledge and managerial skills. Penang must exclude politicians and politically well-connected individuals from the FDI efforts and allow only industry experts with proven records to spearhead it.
If Penang does not buck up and get its act right quickly, then the state faces a real risk of de-industrialisation. This would subsequently lead to a dramatic loss of quality of life. Such a scenario would be tragic not only for the state and Penangites but also for the entire nation.
Read more here.