Sunday, 25 September 2011

MITI Minister gives DAP Penang CM a lesson in ethics, courtesy and investment in Malaysia

A Menteri Besar or Ketua Menteri of a state within the Federation of Malaysia should be a responsible person who does not talk bad about other brother States in order to gain advantage for his home state. 

Unfortunately in Malaysia we have the un-pleasure of having an ex-convict chosen to become a Chief Minister of Pulau Pinang. 

This politician from Melaka who by the way is the son of DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, loves to crow to uninformed audience about his so called success in administering Pulau Pinang in the last three years, hardly ever thanking nor mentioning that the industrious and entrepreneurial  Pulau Pinang folks who voted for the DAP,PKR and PAS and those diligent workers from other states in Malaysia that had made Pulau Pinang a economic success.

Datuk Sri  Mustapha Mohamed our MITI Minister has this to say to Guan Eng and others "sewaktu dengan dia":

Vying for FDI: Follow ground rules

AS THE global financial crisis looks set to roil markets for yet another year, the competition for foreign direct investment (FDI) is only going to heat up further. Governments at all levels fight long and hard to attract this all-important source of economic growth. Indeed, some of the toughest competition for FDI takes place within countries between regional authorities which vie for the same funds.

This in itself is not unusual. In the United States of America, states such as Ohio, Missouri and Georgia often compete with one another to secure investment. Similarly, China's many provincial and city governments have also sought to differentiate themselves in this increasingly tough terrain.

Malaysia is no exception and competition is good both for investors and the country generally. It forces state governments to work hard on their investment promotion strategies and the eventual execution. In short, we all benefit when bureaucrats and politicians are forced to compete with one another.

Nonetheless, there's always a risk that the civility which is the hallmark of our culture may break down in our quest for more FDI. As Malaysia's Minister for International Trade and Industry with responsibility for the entire nation's FDI figures as a whole, this is an extremely worrisome development.

The overall investment climate can be negatively impacted if state leaders feel so pressured to produce results that they find it necessary to undermine the larger nation's interest.

I'm not saying competition is a bad thing. It promotes efficiency and widens choice. However, it can also turn unhealthy and destructive if good sense doesn't prevail. Indeed, there is a need for a greater degree of gentlemanliness in how we proceed in this area: Malaysia's states (to appropriate a sporting metaphor) should always play fairly and be gracious both in victory and defeat.

So there's nothing wrong with inter-state FDI competition as long as we can keep things friendly and ensure that it brings positive results for the nation.

Further, in meetings with foreign investors, state leaders regardless of their party need to realise that they are first and foremost Malaysians. It serves no purpose to run down or denigrate other states abroad just for the sake of winning over foreign investments. For that matter it is most unbecoming for political leaders to run down Malaysia overseas.

At the end of the day, foreigners don't see us as Penangites, Selangoreans or Johoreans, but collectively as Malaysians. When we go abroad, we represent the entire country, not just our respective states. What hurts one place hurts the country as a whole. It's unfortunate that leaders sometimes forget this.

Recently, for instance, I have been made to understand that chief minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng while speaking at a function outside the country criticised Johor. He claimed that people going there were likely to be "kidnapped", in contrast to Penang - which he declared to be the safest state in Malaysia.

This is rather inaccurate as it doesn't rightly reflect the realities on the ground. The truth is that both states have recorded declining crime trends over the past year, as borne out by the Royal Malaysian Police Force's latest crime index by states. Lim's criticisms of Johor are hence harsh and unwarranted.

Lim also used his speech to boast of Penang's success as a world-class electrical and electronics (E&E) hub - which he credited to little over three years of rule by his Pakatan Rakyat administration. He also pointed out that Penang attracted the highest amount of investments in 2010 compared to other states: as if this achievement was due to his efforts alone. Not a word was mentioned about the entrepreneurial and resilient spirit of Penangites.

The fact is that Penang's success did not come overnight. It has become the industrial hub it is today largely because of the work that began in the early seventies under former state leaders like the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu and later continued by Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who were from the Barisan Nasional. Lim must surely acknowledge that he is building on the foundations that these leaders laid.
Lim also seems to imply in his other statements that the federal government has neglected Penang. Nothing could be further than the truth. The federal government, through Mida and other agencies, have worked along with the state government to build a strong E&E ecosystem in Penang and will continue such cooperation as it always has over the past four decades.

Lim is correct when he noted that Penang topped the approved investment list in 2010. Penang was No. 1 with RM12,237 million, followed by Selangor (RM10,641 million), Johor (RM7,464 million) and Sarawak (RM3,945 million). 

But the approved investment totals for the first seven months of 2011 paints a different picture: Penang has dropped to No. 4 (RM4,624 million) while Johor is now No. 1 (RM5,950 million).

To make out that Penang is Malaysia's only star performer in Malaysia and discrediting other states - is disingenuous and goes against the spirit of federalism.

Moreover, there is a mix of factors in attracting FDI. Investors decide where to put their money based on many considerations, such as infrastructure, the availability and cost of land, availability of human capital as well as the extent of support for their operations.

All of these things take time and effort on all sides to create. Therefore, no one person or party can realistically claim credit for pulling in FDI. It is a collective effort by all Malaysians led by the federal government.

I must stress it is not my intention to criticise any state government or the work of its chief minister/menteri besar - but political pettiness will hurt Malaysia in the long run. We ought not to be running down each other, but rather work together in the spirit of 1Malaysia to prepare for the global economic uncertainties.

Competition is good, but cooperation can benefit all. As people say - you are only as strong as your weakest link, hence let's keep things civil and stick to the ground rules next time, shall we?

Read in full here.

As a Malaysian and a Johorean myself I personally think that Guan Eng should grow up and be a matured Leader but maybe I am asking too much of he who climb up the ladder on the back of his father Kit Siang. 

Guan Eng should at least apologise to the DYMM Sultan and the rakyat of Johor for his insult of the State. If he fails to do so maybe, the Government of Johor should sue him in his personal capacity, that will teach the fella to watch what he says. I think Guan Eng's big mouth will one day be his fall. Amen.

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